How to convince people internally to support your campaign

How do we inspire our colleagues to care about our campaign? How do we motivate them to get involved and promote it?

These are questions many campaigners grapple with on a daily basis.

If you can’t convince people within your own organisation about your campaign, then you can’t expect to successfully influence people outside. This challenge was under discussion on the recent Leadership in campaigns course.

The conclusion? There is no magic answer. But as campaigners we hold the key to the solution.

There isn’t a tool we can roll out that tells us how to do this. But, according to Ian Chandler from The Pressure Group, there are lots of things we can all do to influence people internally. Here is just a flavour from our workshop:

Success breeds success

Create energy and buzz around your campaign. Share and celebrate campaign successes because people are inspired by success and naturally want to get on board. Celebrations can also help to increase the visibility of campaigning in your organisation.

Align your campaign to your brand

Ensure your campaign and key messages are aligned with your organisation’s brand and core agendas. Make it clear that you are working towards a shared goal, and build a communications plan for selling your campaign to specific groups and individuals internally.

Identify any deeper problems and where they come from

Perhaps the issue is a lack of a campaigning culture in your organisation. This was another hot topic on the Leadership in campaigns course.

Try to explore where this might come from, why, and what else might need to change in order to build a campaigning culture internally.

Build understanding of campaigning internally

As a campaigner, consultant, and trainer, I’ve worked with many organisations and seen how a lack of knowledge about campaigning can often lead to misunderstanding and miscommunication internally.

Ian suggests you could offer internal workshops on campaigning to colleagues. For senior staff you could market this as “how to approve a campaign strategy and being a critical voice,” for instance. This can help people to understand the purpose of campaigning, what it involves, and what it can achieve – just as you might already be doing for your campaign supporters and activists.

Use your campaigning skills!

You are a campaigner. Influencing people is key to what you do. Ian points out that winning people’s support internally is part of your campaign plan. So, answer the same questions you address in any campaign strategy:

  • What specifically you want to achieve?
  • Who do you need to influence?
  • Who do you need to visibly support your campaign?

Once you have answered these questions:

  • Communicate in ways that will resonate with these audiences
  • Build influential alliances internally
  • Treat people internally and volunteers as valued audiences and supporters for your campaign.

Building a campaigning culture is a potentially long process, but part of the solution to this is influencing people internally and inspiring them to back your campaign. Some organisational shifts may be required to tackle culture change, but there are also many things we can all do to start influencing it. As campaigners we are well placed to start!

Find out more about NCVO’s Leadership in campaigns course and how you can sign up.

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Sarah Gilbert Sarah Gilbert is an experienced campaigner. She is an independent consultant and runs projects for NCVO on campaigning and influencing, including the Certificate in Campaigning and Leadership in Campaigns. She also coaches campaigners, has guest lectured for Roehampton University, and is a member of the advisory board for the University of Westminster's MA in Campaigning, Communications and Media. Sarah sits on the Campaigning Effectiveness Advisory Board and writes blogs, articles and tweets about how to influence people and the sector’s role in campaigning.

2 Responses to How to convince people internally to support your campaign

  1. Really great piece, Sarah. This is certainly true. This first step is senior buy-in and advocacy, internal understanding and then external impact follows.

  2. Andy Glyde says:

    To get staff engaged with our campaigning for the General Election, I set up a sweepstake for staff, which included bonus points for every campaign action that a member of staff took. It’s surprising (not really) how engaged people can get when there is a little healthy competition involved!