Campaign Accelerator

People Powered Campaign Planning with Design Thinking

People powered campaigns thrive on strategies that put people at the centre of change. It’s a shift for many campaigns and campaigners, so we created the Campaign Accelerator

The Campaign Accelerator blends high-performing campaign strategy tools with proven methods inspired by design thinking. We’ve found that this hybrid approach enables teams to build campaigns that engage more people in deeper, more powerful ways – resulting in bigger wins and longer-lasting success.

Design Thinking

Design thinking has earned a reputation for generating innovative new products and services. We’re seeing the methodologies spread quickly throughout the international aid and development sectors (“human centred design“), and the NGO / advocacy worlds are beginning to take note as well.

Adapting and including a design thinking approach in campaign planning develops empathy with audiences, challenges assumptions, and helps us better understand people’s challenges and needs.

The process includes field research and interacting with key audiences to uncover what inspires action. Gaining empathy helps remove the barriers between ‘us’ as staff and ‘them’ as people we wish to engage.

“This methodology fits well, optimises our different skills and in just a few days working with people i’ve never worked with we created critical mass for a new campaign in a really constructive way – that is the force of what we can do as an organisation. MobLab is helping to optimize the main activity of our organisation which is campaigning.”
– Accelerator participant, Brazil

Design thinking uses prototypes and testing to gather direct feedback on how and why people engage in and interact with campaigns. The process of prototyping, testing and iterating based on feedback frees teams up to try wild ideas while minimising risks. Free from failure, participants find courage to try new things rather than sticking to what they already know.


This is an action-based process. We develop ideas and test theories. We get out of the meeting room and work with key audiences. Over five days, the plan evolves and gets refined. Multidisciplinary teams work together–team members contribute equally throughout the process by relying on diverse perspectives and expertise. Together, problems are identified and solutions tested, building a culture of collaboration that lasts beyond the planning process.

Participants have remarked that there was no difference between roles during the process. Alignment on strategy and plan through the process brings higher levels of autonomy during implementation. Teams are able to focus on the big picture instead of small details.

Results: Plan for Moving Forward

By the end of the five day programme, teams generate a project plan with clear next steps based on an analysis of the problem and solution, audience research, and tested ideas that address the campaign challenge. Participants also walk away with processes and tools for radical collaboration and planning that can be taken home and used with their teams long after our week together ends.

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Day 5

strategydot sensingdot creativedot prototypedot plandot
Challenge Sensing Create Prototype & Test Plan & Pitch

Campaign accelerator

DAY 1 :: Challenge


Vision drawing
Causes breakdown
Context map
Stakeholder & system mapping
Stakeholder prioritisation
Campaign canvass

On Day 1, we focus on strategy through a mix of tools to build a common understanding of the challenge. We start by creating a vision for a radically positive future and dig deep into the problem to identify the hidden causes behind the problem we are trying to solve. We look at the whole system and trends to identify existing and possible disruptions that could address the root causes of the problem. We define possible strategies that our organisation can take to create change and identify the people with whom we need to work to deliver solutions.

At the end of the day, we’ll have created a vision of what we can achieve and identified possible strategies that will be tested and refined over the following days. We take a collaborative approach to strategy that involves the entire project team using visual templates and exercises. This allows everyone to participate and build the possible strategies for a project step-by-step.

DAY 2 :: Sensing


Empathy map
Insight statements
Campaign canvass

Day 2 focuses on gaining insight and building empathy with people we want to reach and engage with during the campaign. We do this by defining specific audiences, identifying uncertainties and assumptions we have about the strategy and conducting field research to gain insights into their needs, motivations and barriers. Participants find people who fit our key audiences and then interview them in order to surface patterns or trends. These interviews and observations generate critical insights to inform our next step: creative idea generation.

Campaign Accelerator

DAY 3 :: Create


Creative principles
Structured idea generation and development
Project criteria for selection

On the third day, the team creates and develop ideas specific to our strategy based on insights from the previous day. We employ a structured idea development process based on creative principles and typically invite external guests to maximize creativity and idea generation. We use agreed criteria to select several testable project ideas that put audiences at the centre of our efforts to bring about change.

DAY 4 :: Prototype & Test


Audience testing
Audience feedback
Campaign canvass

On Day 4, we discover which project ideas resonate with audiences by creating low fidelity prototypes for each of the proposed project ideas and conduct field research to test concepts with key audiences. This allows us to determine which ideas will be most effective and make improvements based on their feedback.

By the end of Day 4, we’ll have an agreed strategy, defined target audiences, agreement on which ideas we will take forward and an understanding of how to improve it/them based on audience feedback.

Campaign Accelerator - Creative Table

DAY 5 :: Plan & Pitch


Seven shifts
Engagement Pyramid
Team dynamics
Campaign Canvas

The final day synthesizes everything into a plan we can pitch to decision makers or funders and begin implementing. We develop an outline of the project plan – including the campaign story, engagement strategy, timeline of activities, responsibilities, success metrics, and immediate next steps. Together we define what success looks like and how it will be measured. Finally, we create a timeline with clearly assigned tasks and roles. We also explore how the team will work together to deliver this new plan.

Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a good project for the accelerator?

Projects that have the “raw materials” – a challenge, the research, an understanding of the context and key stakeholders – and have not yet defined the strategy and plan are ideal for the accelerator. There also needs to be agreement that people-power will be a significant part of the project.

How does it work?

The Campaign Accelerator is a facilitated and collaborative process that takes project teams through the steps to create and test a plan that you can implement. This is an action-based process. We create theories and ideas and we get out of the meeting room to test them with the important audiences. The plan evolves and is refined over the course of the five days.

Who needs to participate in the workshop?

The participants for this workshop should be the team who will implement the plan. They will create it and commit to tasks by the end of the five days so it is essential that the whole project team covering all programme areas is present.

When and where?

We typically run the accelerator starting on a Thursday and finishing on a Wednesday to manage energy levels and focus. This is an intense and tiring process, particularly for English as a second language speakers. You can contact to discuss possible projects and dates. We have specific space and location requirements for the workshop to be a success, so please discuss these with your facilitator.

What will you get out of it?

In addition to having a plan that is ready to pitch with clear steps for implementation, you will learn new tools and techniques for campaign planning and strategic innovation that you can repeat in future projects. This is also a great opportunity for teams to learn how to work collaboratively, accomplish something together and have some fun building strong foundations to deliver the project.