Tips for Successful Fundraising/community issues part 1 looked at fundraising, part 2 focuses on community issues, you still need the same tenacious approach but you also need to be prepared to look back in archives and council policies, I personally found most councillors to be a little devious, often even when you confront them with the truth they manage to get their own way, you need to be prepared to exhaust every possible avenue available to you, you need to become an expert on the subject.
When looking at community issues and thing like petitions you always need to think BIG, on my Save the playing fields campaign I chaired a meeting for local residents, app 300 turned up, which is a great turnout for a meeting but 300 signatures on a petition is pretty unimpressive, so instead of asking the 300 people to sign, I gave them forms to take away and to give to friends/relatives who would like to help. Keeping track of the forms was a logistical nightmare, but resulted in 5000 signatures being handed in, far more impressive than 300.
The day of the consultancy regarding the new build the plan was to make banners and stand outside the gates of the school where the meeting was being held, I really couldn’t see how that could make much of an impact on the councillors driving past with their windows up, so I devised a different plan. I marched 70 children dressed in their rugby kits straight into the meeting, It was their field we were fighting for, so I felt they should be at the forefront of the campaign. As the saying goes ‘knowledge is power’ so I ensured the children had banners with information relevent to the fight. Even before we went in, people had negative things to say such as “Are children allowed into the meeting” well they weren’t specifically banned so in my mind they were welcome.
I was so proud of each and every child as they crept silently down the corridor and as I silently counted to 3 with my fingers, burst into their team song “who are, who are, who are we? We are cefn RFC”. That was a pivotal moment in the campaign, the head of the council was quite enamoured with the articulate passionate children. The school wasn’t very happy that they had to print off more forms for all the children and parents to fill in though.
This campaign was a constant stream of thinking outside the box and looking at different ways to get our message out there, I was constantly fact finding, I knew so much about the 33 local councillors, most of whom I had never heard of before, I made sure when I lobbied them I had read their manifestos so knew where they were coming from, what made them tick, and approached each one in a targeted manor. I even lobbied the royal family, the fight lasted months and was totally draining but resulted in us saving our beautiful field for ever, it has Queen Elizabeth playing field status, which is the highest form of status, normal playing field or green field status can be challenged which would have meant a whole new fight, so we were delighted the fight was over.
Before spearheading in this kind of campaign please take a good long look at yourself, are you prepared to see this through to the end? are you prepared to eat, sleep,breath this cause? and are you prepared to trawl the internet and constantly seek other avenues for helpful information? If your answer is no to any of these questions, then just walk away and let somebody else go for it, the most successful campaign is usually the first one, as people are fickle and do not want to give up too much time, so don’t waste this precious first chance. This kind of campaign totally controls your life for months and saps all your energy. If you can say yes to these questions, then go for it, remember to constantly seek new ways to catch peoples attention and spread the word, If you have a campaign going a need a little help in which direction to take I am happy to help 🙂