AMPLIFY – Local campaigning in a digital world

Date: 16 May 2013

With the use of smart phones and social networking on the increase, community organisers and campaigners need to make more of online opportunities if they want to have their voices heard – according to a new report released today.

The Young Foundation’s “Amplify: Local campaigning in a digital world” is designed to help community organisations use the free and low cost web tools already widely available.

Between April 2011 and March 2013 The Young Foundation, as part of the Building Local Activism programme supported by the Big Lottery Fund (BIG), worked with six small organisations or individuals that wanted to use digital tools to campaign on issues that mattered to them. The organisations were supported to develop and run web-based campaigns using free or low-cost web tools.

This new report outlines the learning from the work, and boils it down to a practical toolkit which is designed to inspire others to campaign online on issues that matter to them.

The Young Foundation makes five key recommendations, giving practical examples, for how best to use digital tools in a local campaign, telling organisers to:

1. Decide who to engage and what you want them to do – campaigning is a great opportunity to connect with your local community, but it’s important to think about how to connect with them. A range of online and offline methods is important;

2. Collaborate – if campaigners look beyond their immediate geographical areas they often find others tackling similar issues. Online tools can make it easier to connect and widen a campaign’s reach;

3. Keep content accessible and up-to-date – many campaigns will find support dwindles if content becomes stale, but certain social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook should make contacting supporters easier and less time consuming;

4. Maintain momentum – people need to have a reason to stay committed to a campaign;

5. Target influencers to amplify your message – online tools make reaching people in power and other decision makers far easier, widening the impact of the campaign.

Report author Sophie Hostick-Boakye, Associate, said “The emergence of web tools has made reaching decision makers far easier. Technology can help accelerate social progress and by using web tools and targeting people who can change things, local campaigns can be propelled to new places.”

Catherine Dempsey from Hackney CAB , one of the groups The Young Foundation worked with, added “We found that our presence online made connections for us that we wouldn’t have otherwise made, both national organisations and policymakers and small voluntary organisations that were working on the same issues.”

ENDS.

Notes to editors:

1. Contact: Alison Harvie on 07909 912 444 or alison.harvie@youngfoundation.org

2. The Young Foundation will be holding the event – Ungoogleable: Is online presence an essential part of activism? – to launch this publication on Thursday 16 May at 6.30pm with Stella Creasy MP.

3. The Young Foundation is determined to make positive social change happen. We pioneered the field of social innovation with The Open University, UpRising and Studio Schools. We work closely with individuals, communities and partners building relationships to ensure that our thinking does something, our actions matter and the changes we make together will continue to grow. (www.youngfoundation.org )

4. The Big Lottery Fund (BIG), the largest distributor of National Lottery good cause funding, is responsible for giving out 40% of the money raised for good causes by the National Lottery. BIG is committed to bringing real improvements to communities and the lives of people most in need and has been rolling out grants to health, education, environment and charitable causes across the UK. Since its inception in 2004 BIG has awarded close to £6bn. The Fund was formally established by Parliament on 1 December 2006. Since the National Lottery began in 1994, 28p from every pound spent by the public has gone to good causes. As a result, over £29 billion has now been raised and more than 383,000 grants awarded across arts, sport, heritage, charities, health, education and the environment.

5. Building Local Activism was a Big Lottery Fund-supported programme that aimed to uncover how communities can empower themselves through community organising, asset based community development and digital activism. The programme ran from April 2011 to March 2013 and was split into two strands of work: Scaling Proven Models, and Digital Activism.

6. “AMPLIFY: Local campaigning in a digital world” is be available to download from www.youngfoundation.org