Professionalisation of Campaigning

Campaigning is an area of VCS work that long resisted professionalisation, but this is now changing and starting to become a career based on transferable skills rather than issues. This is resisted by some single-issue activists (see rise of single issues) who do not want transferable skills or see themselves as part of the VCS. The growth of non-violent direct action also runs contrary to ‘professionalisation’, but the marginalisation of dissent means that it is increasingly necessary to be organised to succeed in a difficult environment for campaigning.

The last government showed a high level of support for a ‘professionalised’ approach to campaigning by funding capacity building programmes to support campaigners. However the combination of constrained public spending and a Conservative-led government more sceptical of campaigning, mean that there is unlikely to be further funding for this approach. Despite this, professional standards and the importance of demonstrating value for money are likely to remain important as charities focus on making the most impact with scarce resources.

What are the implications?

  • Greater impact for campaigns as professional activists focus on the tactics that work best.
  • Sharing of skills and knowledge as professional campaigners are encouraged to collaborate with others.
  • Potential barriers for new campaigners who lack skills and experience but are passionate about a cause.
  • A risk of reducing the dynamism of campaigning by standardising it.
  • Increased recognition for campaigners, with National Occupational Standards (NOS) and an accredited course in campaigning.

Moving Forward

  • Your organisation’s ability to demonstrate value for money and conform to ‘professional’ campaigning standards may affect your funding for further campaigns.
  • How could you ensure you do not miss out on these opportunities but still campaign using methods suitable to your organisation?
  • Could your organisation do more to develop and recognise the skills needed to campaign?

Want to know more?

What makes a good campaigner

Published by: NCVO

Date: October 2007

Format: PDF

What is it? Report of a study investigating the need for National Occupational Standards for Campaigning Commissioned by the Workforce Hub

How useful it it? This report sets out the rationale for the professionalisation of campaigning, indicates some of the key skills and competencies that might be considered necessary in order to be a good campaigner, and sets out how National Occupational Standards could help.

Campaigners must demonstrate value

Published by: Guardian Voluntary Sector Network / Brian Lamb

Date: March 2011

Format: Web

What is it? A short article outlining why is it important for campaigners to be able to demonstrate value, particularly in the new austere climate for the VCS.

How useful is it? The article suggests that there is a risk of a reversal in the trend of VCS campaigning becoming more influential. It is not just the lack of money, but also the changing political environment which together mean that campainging must demonstrate its impact and value.

Good practice on campaigning

Published by: NCVO

Date: November 2007

Format: PDF

What is it? A guide to good practice on campaigning, focusing on 10 tips for a successful campaign

How useful is it? The report goes into some depth for each tip – covering topics from how to measure whether a campaign is successful to adapting campaign tactics for different circumstances and ways of involving beneficiaries.

Last updated at 15:41 Wed 30/Mar/11.


How will this affect your organisation? Have you considered it during your strategic planning? Can you share any interesting relevant links?

Log in or join for free to comment.