How to run a campaign - cont.
Once it has been decided to organise a campaign, decisions need to be made about what resources will be given to organising it, and who will take responsibility. the very first question that needs to be answered regarding a campaign is who will take overall responsibility. This can be a few people, but one person should have overall administrative control, and coordinate the others.
Campaigns can always have more time dedicated to them. Before a campaign is planned, decisions need to be made about how much time can be given to it. There is no point deciding to organise a massive campaign if it is more of an organisational priority to sell tickets to a Jewish nightclub party. Make sure that aims and objectives are suited to the emphasis that a campaign is to be given.
Once a general sense of how big a campaign is going to be has been obtained, it is important to start to put together a core group of activists to run it. Whilst one person needs to be responsible for coordinating others, activists should have specific task and responsibilities delegated to them. Generally, it doesn’t make sense to have too many activists involved in running a campaign from the start. If too many people are involved, but aren’t very busy, they might get frustrated and bored. It’s always possible to enlist extra support when needed later on.
Campaigning can require resources. Start by clarifying what money is available. If there isn’t enough money for the costs that might arise (printing, buying props for photo stunts, room hire, paying for speakers and so on) then raise more. We here at WUJS may have some tips for who you can contact depending on what your campaign subject is.
Where possible, make alliances with other organisations that might want to get involved in helping to run the campaign. Divide responsibilities clearly from the start, possibly in writing. The benefit of involving other organisations is simply that two organisations can sometimes get more done than one can.
Once the general idea of what the aim of a campaign is going to be has been obtained, and the organisational infrastructure for realising the campaign is put together, one of the first things that needs to be done is research.
Although campaigns generally conducted like intellectual arguments or debates, they do need to be backed up by facts and expertise. Before a campaign is launched, start gathering information from trustworthy sources.
Find out the facts of an issue, and work out the argument that the campaign will be present. For example, if a campaign aims to stop a Hamas-sympathetic speaker from speaking on campus, then find facts about Hamas. Find out what the organisation stands for, and it’s policy statements. Collect facts about terror attacks Hamas has carried out. Find the relevant policies of your national government, your student government, and so forth. With this information - collected, analysed, and organised - a campaign is ready to proceed.
It is important to attempt to understand the “other side” when organising a campaign. Read materials and speak to people that might give a sense of what the other point of view is. It is easier to campaign against something one understands, with a sense of what the problems with it are.
Because campaigns are run over a period of some time usually, it is important to maintain good communications throughout. Keep activists informed of what has been achieved, and what still needs to be done. It is easy for a campaign to run out of steam because nobody reports the good news that might motivate people.
Say thank-you to people who help run a campaign. It is often easy to forget to thank people who help a lot, because they are usually ideologically committed, and doing it because they really want to. Even so, thanking people can energise them and leave them ready to contribute more.
It is important to measure how things are going. Keep a list of objectives, (which should all be measurable) and note when they need to be achieved by. Then, as things are done, cross them off the list.
As a campaign develops, some objectives might not be met. This happens. However, what is important is that decisions are made about which objectives to drop, instead of just giving up on things. Similarly, sometimes objectives will be met earlier than expected. For example, an objective might be “to meet twenty student council members and present them with arguments for supporting Israel”. Should a campaign continue to meet council members after 20 have already been met? Maybe. This decision needs to be made sensibly, and with the facts available.
Learn from mistakes
Mistakes happen. Sometimes campaigns don’t go as well as we might like. This is, unfortunately, the way things are. However, mistakes can be a valuable opportunity to learn. If something doesn’t go according to plan, note why, and think of ways that the same mistake can be avoided in the future.
Share effective ideas and resources
Jewish student activists are full of energy and vitality. Jewish students, led by WUJS, managed to contribute to the freeing of Soviet Refuseniks, to ending the quotas of Jews who could study in European universities, and to fight against anti-Zionist propaganda at the UN’s Durban conferences. Where great campaigning ideas and materials work, it is worth passing them to other Jewish student groups, to help them in their work. Jewish students are fighting the same battle, and together, it can be won.