2022 has been tough for the sector and the world. As the time between crises, scandals, disasters (and new Prime Ministers!) became shorter and shorter, the pace of change demanded new levels of agility and creativity from campaigners.
For many organisations, this year has highlighted how uncomfortable we still are as a sector with moving quickly. But it’s also proven the potential for digital mobilisation to help organisations drive rapid responses and real-world change.
These five highlights from partners we were proud to work with in 2022 are examples of digital mobilisation done well. They offer inspiration and important learning for how online tools, tactics and strategies can inspire powerful support and achieve offline impact.
1. Taking a stand to #stopRwanda
Care 4 Calais and Freedom from Torture
This year, rapid changes to refugee legislation and policy demanded quick reactions. When the government announced plans to deport asylum seekers to Rwanda, human rights campaigners swung into action to stop the flights.
Our partners Care4Calais and Freedom from Torture led the way. Care4Calais took the government to court, and we wrote and built a handraiser in a week (normally a six-week process) to show the strength of public opinion on the issue. This helped them reach 15,000 new engaged supporters and double their email list.
At the same time, Freedom from Torture targeted airlines and the famous football teams that use them to make it a PR disaster for any aviation company to fly refugees to Rwanda.
What we can learn
- Rapid response is everything in moments like these.
- When you’re planning your campaign, think about which high-profile stakeholders interact with the group you’re targeting (e.g. airlines and the footballers they fly around the world). How can you tap into these communities to create pressure for action?
2. Championing debate on assisted dying
Dignity in Dying
Five years ago, assisted dying was nowhere near the top of the political agenda. Thanks to the incredible perseverance and hard work of organisations like Dignity in Dying, that looks set to change.
With general elections coming up in 2024, Dignity in Dying needed a way to make assisted dying a key priority for each standing MP, so together we created the Has your MP pledged? action. The online tool allows you to search whether your MP has pledged to make time for an assisted dying debate in parliament. If not, you can easily email them to ask them to pledge.
The tool is also being used in person at political events. It enables Dignity in Dying to press MPs to pledge their support for a full debate on assisted dying, and for adding it to their manifesto – which is critical ahead of the 2024 elections.
What we can learn
- When done right, digital tools can both mobilise at scale and facilitate quality in-person conversations that quickly get people to act.
3. Tackling transphobia head on
Mermaids and Stonewall
In 2022, organisations like Stonewall and Mermaids had a hugely important job to make sure voices of tolerance and acceptance were shouting louder than those of hatred. This meant building new communities of supporters to stand up for trans rights and campaign against harmful practices, such as conversion therapy.
When their helpline was under attack, we helped Mermaids launch an emergency crowdfunder campaign. They mobilised their digital communities, including email, and raised over £56,000 (more than double their target) in just four weeks.
What we can learn
- When you ask email subscribers to take action from the very first day they join a community, they’ll be ready to act when you need them most.
- And if you ever need a reminder of how amazing people can be in difficult times, read the donor comments on the crowdfunder – they never fail to floor us!
4. Holding a corrupt government to account
38 Degrees and Good Law Project
Faced with a relentless news cycle of scandal and political in-fighting, it can be hard to maintain the sense of public outrage. But both 38 Degrees and Good Law Project do an outstanding job of holding power to account.
When the Partygate scandal broke, 38 Degrees harnessed the power of both people’s collective grief and traditional paid media to make people’s outrage felt. Their Not Like My Lockdown campaign used photos people had uploaded of themselves at home during the lockdown to create a huge photo montage showing an infamous party shot of the prime minister. They then bought up advertising space and published it across local newspaper networks.
As for Good Law Project, what a year they’ve had! Pushing the police to investigate Partygate is just the tip of the iceberg. They’ve also successfully challenged the legality of the government’s Net Zero Carbon strategy, and the widespread corporate practice of dumping untreated sewage in British seas and waterways.
We’re proud to have supported both organisations’ work with digital mobilisation and fundraising projects this year. For Good Law Project, we developed a range of handraisers with follow-up actions including a survey and regular giving ask. For 38 Degrees, we tested ways to drive regular giving donations from their existing community of email subscribers.
What we can learn
- Finding a creative way to take action on the issues at the top of the agenda is a great way both to get media cut through and mobilise high numbers of people
- As always, campaigning opportunities are also fundraising opportunities; make sure you’re daisy chaining multiple impactful actions whenever a supporter takes an action with you
5. Ending the culture of public sexual harassment in the UK
In 2018, Plan UK launched their I Say It’s Not OK campaign to change the conversation around sexual harassment in public. After years of sustained campaigning, this year, they saw an opportunity to get the criminalisation of public sexual harassment (PSH) discussed in the House of Commons through a Private Members’ Bill – but they’d need public support to make it happen.
We worked with Plan UK to run a super short, super localised campaign driving local constituents to email just nine MPs asking them to put PSH on the parliamentary agenda via a Private Members’ Bill. As a result, Conservative MP Greg Clark presented the Protection from Sex-based Harassment in Public Bill 2022-23 to Parliament on 15 June 2022.
What we can learn
- With the right strategy and goal, carefully targeted localised campaigning can have a national impact.
If the past few years are anything to go by, progressive organisations are facing more challenges in 2023 than we’ve faced for a long time. From the climate crisis to culture wars, it can sometimes feel like we’re losing the big battles. But take a minute to look around at the amazing work being done in our sector, and you will see how much change we can achieve when we work together!
It’s all about partnership – between organisations, individuals, and sometimes when we’re lucky, agencies like Forward Action.
We hope you have a very restful festive break – and if you’re a progressive organisation that wants to unlock mass support that starts online, but results in real-world change, email us or get in touch here.