Saturday, September 13, 2008

The true value of campaigning?

I’ve read and observed lots over the past few years from charities all over the globe about the value of their campaigning or lobbying efforts. For the most part I hear things like, “If a regular giver subsequently becomes a campaigner it increases their lifetime value by 20%”.

And as fundraisers we love this. Why? Because it’s quantifiable.

But what about direct impact? I’m not talking about how much extra money you can raise by getting someone to take action, but how does it help progress your cause?

For me, the primary reason I am yet to find someone who has truly cracked this is because of that dreaded five letter word…silos.

Let me explain…

I once had a meeting with a large NGO and we wanted to discuss some ideas to demonstrate genuine joined up thinking, how to bring fundraising and campaigning together to raise some money and empower individuals to take action.

So what happened?

The campaigners turned up for the start of the meeting, stayed for a bit, left for 2 hours and returned at the end when we were about to discuss ‘the campaigning part’ with a raft of excuses as to why they couldn’t stay for the whole meeting.

So what you say?

This isn’t a rant about campaigners. I like them. The point is, this is a universal predicament. Campaigners and fundraisers working in isolation.

What I am desperate to do is help organizations develop a ‘true’ measure reflecting the impact of their campaigning/ advocacy efforts. Not measuring outcomes, but real impact.

For example, if an environmental group was lobbying MP’s on their green policies, how could that organization measure the ‘greenness’ of the pollies following their work? Not the number of petitions signed or letters sent, but the change in behavior as a result of their work.

Creating such a model incentivizes campaigners and fundraisers to work together as both sides have a tangible gauge for their work and we can get on with developing truly integrated activities (minus arguments about whose budget is being used).
I’d love to hear from anyone who has managed to crack this one and developed such a model (so I can rip it off)!

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