21 Things (Out of Hundreds) That I Learned at the 2015 Ecampaigning Forum

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The setting - Keble College in Oxford
The setting – Keble College in Oxford

The Fairsay Ecampaigning Forum in Oxford is an annual conference that gathers digital activists from all over the world. It’s always a highlight of my working year – because of the great speakers, and the incredibly passionate and knowledgeable community of attendees. Plus using the Open Space method for organising workshops means that the agenda is always hugely diverse and interesting.

Here’s just 21 of the hundreds of things I learned at the 2015 Ecampaigning Forum:

  1. Recommended Toolkit: The Proud to be a Fundraiser Toolkit from the UK Institute of Fundraising. Great for inspiring and unifying staff around fundraising, and a great model for a toolkit.
  2. When trying to map your supporters for a supporter engagement plan, look at your organisation’s culture first. Look inwards and figure out how you work and communicate. Tackle the assumptions and myths in the organisation about why people do what they do. Base your analysis on data rather than assumptions. Having one single database is key to tracking engagement and activity, but that’s unfortunately not how most charities are working.
  3. Recommended Story: I Stand Quietly, shared by the National Autistic Society
  4. At our session on storytelling, we agreed that storytelling is crucial but some are concerned that charities can sometimes be formulaic in their storytelling. Oxfam tried something different by bringing influential YouTube vloggers to refugee camps and got them to tell the stories in their own voices.
  5. Recommended Book: Winning The Story Wars by Jonah Sachs
  6. War Child UK created a daily blog on Tumblr called What Did War Child Do Today? to get the entire organisation storytelling. I think this is a really strong idea with multiple benefits beyond storytelling – transparency and building understanding of the depth of the charity’s work.
  7. Is your charity conservative about sending emails to supporters? The average Gmail user gets only six emails a day.
  8. Recommended Video: The Man Behind Your Chocolate, from the Rainforest Alliance
    http://vimeo.com/78269380
  9. When you’re trying to influence digital growth inside your organisation, why not treat it like a campaign? Note your objectives, your audience, the people or groups you need to influence, and the tactics you will need.
  10. Recommended Campaign: Can You Afford to Swing a Cat in London?
  11. Craftivism is a brilliant way to get people involved in thoughtful activism – creating a calm, conversational space to discuss issues and think deeply about the issues we work on. Sarah from Craftivist Collective is a true inspiration; watch this short video of her presenting at the ECF to find out more about this movement.
  12. To build an effective petition, Beth Granter of Care2 recommends that you include: a verb, an expected outcome, a theory of change, a sense of urgency and reader-centred language. Watch her short presentation for more:
  13. Recommended Video: Choose A Different Ending, from the London Metropolitan Police – an interactive video on knife crime
  14. When you’re making video for YouTube pre-roll ads, make sure your key message appears in the first 4 seconds
  15. With video in general, consider spreading your key message throughout your piece, to cater for short attention spans
  16. Recommended Book: Change By Design, Tim Brown
  17. The brilliant Let Toys Be Toys campaign gained success by listening carefully to their audience on social media and finding out what resonated with them. Jess Day of that campaign explains in this short presentation how they engaged with their audience and ensured that they weren’t just preaching to the choir.
  18. Giant Post It Notes are a thing that exist! And are brilliant for planning Open Space sessions.
  19. With new social media tools, such as WhatsApp, it can be difficult to know which tools warrant your time. Check if it fits your audience, play it with personally before you use it for your organisation. Using the tools socially at work (such as an employee WhatsApp group) can encourage adoption later. See a detailed discussion on the nifty new Troublemaker.Space site.
  20. Recommended Sites for Creative Collaboration: designkit.org, improvencyclopedia.org, gamestorming.com
  21. Recommended Toolkit: Design Principles for the UK Government Digital Service

There is much, much more.  Check out the ECF Live site for videos of the speakers and notes from the various workshops. I can’t recommend this event enough, and am already looking forward to ECF2016.

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