by | Jan 23, 2024

Diving into the 4Cs of effective campaign strategy

Setting campaign strategy can feel like a huge and complex endeavour. It needn’t be. At its best, setting campaign strategy is about the people affected by an issue coming together to work out how best to bring about change, drawing on their respective strengths and insights.

Yes, there are barriers to developing strategy. For some of us, it’s working out where on earth to start! For others, it’s imagining what change is possible. Choosing tactics can be a conundrum. The critical work of convening collaborators can also be challenging. How do we make sure that the group we have convened has legitimacy to act on an issue? And what timeframe should we consider?

SMK have been listening to our community as they ask these questions and we’ve developed a new framework in response. We’re calling it the ‘4Cs of campaign strategy’ framework.  The approach draws on our 20 years’ experience working alongside campaigners and changemakers. You can learn more about it in our deep dive session on How to develop effective campaign strategies next month.

A sense-making framework

SMK has distilled its thinking into four key areas of campaign strategy.  Change is about gaining clarity on the change you want to see. Collaboration focusses on how you can work with others to increase impact. Capacity considers what you have and what you need. Finally, Context helps you understand your environment and the opportunities within it to act.

Tools for an uncertain world

For each of the 4Cs, we’ve identified one or two practical tools to unlock thinking and prompt collaboration with others. These tools can and should be used iteratively as part of an agile approach to campaign strategy alongside our peers, communities, and other stakeholders. We can re-visit them as our understanding of a situation develops or when something changes. The world doesn’t stand still so nor can we!

Support and solidarity

With democratic space closing around us, campaigning can be a lonely business. Shining a light on impactful campaigning is a way to celebrate incremental wins when we are low on energy or hope. They remind us that campaigning is key to making change happen   Our 4Cs strategy framework draws on a rich diversity of case studies from across the sector. It’s not about a single approach to strategy being the ‘right one’. Instead, it’s about learning from each other’s campaigning approaches, particularly, how a set of strategy choices worked out.

Learning from others

At the time of writing, our insights are being sharpened through diverse organisations testing the 4Cs strategy framework. The first-hand experience of our community in strategizing for change – whether through tried-and-tested tactics or pioneering innovative approaches – is an important source of  SMK’s own learning. I’m excited to see organisations use SMK’s 4Cs strategy framework to assess where to place their energies and to identify where the opportunities for change lie. Above all, I am looking forward to seeing how the 4Cs framework can galvanise organisations into new forms of collaboration, making space for people on the frontlines of social change to influence and inform, as we embed principles of equity and solidarity into changemaking.

Book onto the 27 February deep dive session on How to develop an effective campaign strategy here.

Julia Beart

Julia Beart is co-facilitator for the deep dive session on How to develop an effective campaign strategy. Julia is an SMK Associate. the former CEO of Primary Care International and Director of Pragmatic Radicals.



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