Campaign Strategy: Understanding and Leveraging

Submitted by Sarah Pullman on Tue, 2006-09-26 13:34.

with Leda Dederich (dotOrganize) and Liz Butler (ForestEthics)

Notes by Phillip Djwa

We need to be thinking about the experience of working with organizations that lack a strategic focus and merge traditional organizing and think about better processes for that.

Talk was about the process for campaign strategy, look at Forest Ethics as a case study, and look at the main questions we have about integrating technology into campaigns.

A lot of times organizations don't have a strategy and/or don't know how to integrate technologies , but as "technologists" (i.e. web people) we are asked to create a website to support them.

However, actually sometimes it is campaign strategy that is needed. Also, technologists that want to help organizations need to know about the campaign to assist in terms of speaking their language.

Basic Campaign Strategy

1. Identify Long term goals
2. Research the problem
3. Identify Strategies
4. Determine who the target is (Should be a real person)
5. Power map the target (what influences them?)
6. Identify Tactical options
7. Choose Tactics
8. Create Timeline
9. Execute and Win

Outcomes become an important aspect

Many organizations are reactive
They know tactics really well, but strategy not so well. They have been doing it for so long and they don't know strategy or technology.

Technologists often know tactics, but not strategy. So the result is a disconnect that can really prevent success.

As a technologist, don't do strategy unless you know how, but often times, developing this strategy is a key part of success in campaigns.

But ask for strategy from the org. Lots of people discussed how they insist on it and some of the approaches towards this.

Example of Forest Ethics – Liz talked at detail. I hope you can grab her PPT on this!

  • Logging companies will listen to their major customers, so the key strategy is to focus on the end client of the major customers
  • Tactics can be seen here:
  • Another key point is to focus only on tactics that make ForestEthics stronger
  • Build the capacity of the organization at the same time as taking action
  • Don't choose tactics that weaken the organization
  • Tactics can shift as they review them in terms of effectiveness

Some voiced concerns about technology and an active discussion:

  • Limits of many NGO's is that email lists are used as only for 1) send email to someone or 2) send us a cheque
  • Instead, figure out how to use people to do "Real world stuff" – ie. Offline
  • Don't need lists, but do need people that can work
  • Also Tech savviness is a key aspect. The tech component is difficult as they will have to learn it, and it takes months and months
  • Appeciative Inquiry is another process. Ask "what is working" at the organization instead of what is wrong.
  • How can we get technology not to "lead" but to support.
  • Power struggles between online organizers and technologists. There are new buzzwords and technology instead of being something that we have been working on for a while that technology supports.
  • Online organizing is still organizing on a basic level. Don't discount leadership, people having control over their decisions, etc.
  • What are the successes?


  • Electoral process is around contacts – how do we integrate offline and online
  • Integrated online phonebank that created success
  • House parties
  • Human rights online organizing – ranking company

- If what organization needs to do is build the strategy or goals, and the integrator doesn't know that, there is a big disconnect
- Organizations come to integrators between tactics and timeline - "we need podcasts" instead of understanding why podcasts strategically advance their goals.

• Companies will pay for tactics but not strategy
• Remind the companies that it is helpful to have the whole strategy

• People are not empowered to make strategic decisions which can make it difficult

• One person said that it is a mistake to look to technologists for solutions – rare person to be both strategy and technology. Their solution is to find a team approach to asking for the solutions.

• Also, as technologists, don't do strategy unless it is clear to you. Can do a lot of damage

• Technologists can help people in org's make the "case" to senior execs for the strategy –

• Don't forget it is organizational change – which can be hard!

• Shared outcomes are important – between the technologist and the org.

• RFPs can create a split in strategy and technology implementation, but the issue is that sometimes people are brought in to supply the strategy but not the implementation.


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"If you have a chance to go, I strongly recommend it. Beyond the amazing setting (Hollyhock is right out of a fairytale), you will meet and interact with committed, knowledgeable people who live and breathe technology and online strategy. (I also learned almost as much about myself at this conference as I did about web-based campaigns.) "
Kevin Reid, formerly of Amnesty International USA