Campaign Selection Criteria

This checklist could and should be used by us for many of our future planning decisions. This is not a perfect checklist and not all of the criteria are always applicable, but it's a foundation you can build on. Much of the list was extracted from a book the Midwest Academy produced, and the last seven questions are from someone in a progressive anti-corporate group called the Alliance for Democracy.

A good campaign should:

  1. Result in a real improvement in people's lives
    If people can see and feel the improvement, then they can be sure it has actually been won.

  2. Give people a sense of their own power
    People should come away from the campaign feeling that the victory was won by them, not lawyers and experts. They should also have a renewed sense of democracy in action.

  3. Alter the relations of power
    Building a strong, ongoing staffed organization creates a new center of power that changes the way the other side makes decisions.

  4. Be winnable
    The problem must not be so large or the solution so remote that the organization becomes overwhelmed and paralyzed by the enormity of the task. The organizations members must be able to see from the start that there is a good chance of winning, or at least a good strategy for winning.

  5. Be widely felt
    Many people must feel that this is a real problem and must agree with the solution. It is not necessarily enough that a few people who run in the same circles as you feel strongly about it.

  6. Be deeply felt
    People must not only agree with your organization, but feel strongly enough to do something about it.

  7. Be worthwhile
    Members should feel that they are fighting for something about which they feel good and which merits their efforts and the little bit of time they can spare.

  8. Be easy to understand
    It is preferable that you don't have to convince people that the problem exits. Sometimes this is necessary, but a good issue should not require a lengthy and academic explanation.

  9. Have a clear target
    The target is the person, group of people or institution that can give you want you want.

  10. Have a clear time frame that works for you
    A campaign must have a beginning, a middle and an end. You should have an idea of the approximate dates on which these points will fall.

  11. Be non-divisive to your constituency
    Don't pit members of your potential coalition against other members. Look down the road several years. Who will you eventually need to bring into your efforts? Will this issue help or hinder you reaching them?

  12. Build leadership
    The campaign should have many roles for people to play and should cultivate new leaders over time.

  13. Set your organization up for the next campaign
    In addition to thinking about future issue directions, consider the skills and contacts the group will develop in the campaign that can be used for the next one.

  14. Have a pocketbook angle
    Issues that get people money or save them money are automatically more magnetic.

  15. Raise money
    You must have a clear idea of how you will obtain funding sources for your campaign. Good planning and strong rhetoric mean nothing if you don't have the resources to fuel your campaign.

  16. Be consistent with your values and vision
    The issue we choose must reflect our values and visions of a better society and must captivate people's sense of justice.

  17. Will the action help grow our membership?

  18. Is it something our membership can get behind and is there something people can do?

  19. Does the proposer have a track record for achieving results and is the proposer personally committed to spending time raising money and getting others involved?

  20. Is this something where we can see tangible results in one year?

  21. Is it doable with our limited staff and financial resources?

  22. Is there a probability of major outside financial support and, if so, from where?

  23. When the campaign succeeds, will we get credit or will larger organizations eclipse our efforts?

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