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Key points to consider

Last edited: January 03, 2012

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In campaign planning, the following points deserve particular attention:

  • Effective campaigns are purpose-driven. A shared sense of purpose should inform all stages of campaign planning and implementation. Campaigns are complex, onerous processes – lack of goals and concrete plans may waste resources and fail to produce results.
  • Purposeful strategic planning and campaign preparation are crucial. It is important to note that this stage can often be time consuming and labour-intensive.
Example: Oxfam Great Britain’s We Can campaign to end domestic violence against women rallies thousands of activists – of both sexes – to challenge abuse. Campaigners in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and Afghanistan, visit households, persuading couples to find ways to address their differences without violence. The campaign aims to recruit 5 million volunteer ‘change makers’ by 2011 to mobilize 50 million people against violence.


Watch a video about one of the campaign’s Change Makers.


Oxfam Great Britain decided in August 2000 to start the South Asia-wide campaign. It then took almost four years of an iterative strategic planning process, encompassing several rounds of research and consultations throughout the region, to define and plan the We Can campaign. It was eventually launched in September 2004. Its innovative approach encouraging women and men to make a formal pledge to end VAW and devise appropriate action in their own lives has triggered an impressive range of activities and demonstrable behaviour change among people who took the pledge, the “change makers” . 

Read the Campaign Strategy.

Read the external evaluation.

See the We Can Campaign Website and other videos.

 Source:  Aldred & Williams, 2009. We Can: The Story So Far.

  • Participatory planning and consultation with others, especially members of the target audiences, women’s organizations, relevant public institutions and other groups who work to end violence against women and girls (VAW), is needed to:

-      identify what is needed according to the perspective of the target groups;

-      enhance the quality of the situation analysis and research on the campaign issue;

-      identify barriers to, and enablers of change;

-      build on local knowledge and social networks;

-      identify potential allies and supporters;

-      avoid duplicating or hampering other effective initiatives to end VAW.

Depending on the nature of the campaign and its context, consultation can be organized in the form of workshops, focus groups, face-to-face meetings with stakeholders or virtual discussions, e.g. via e-mail listservs, chat groups or “Skype”.

  • Documenting the planning process, such as through written meeting reports summarizing key discussion points and decisions, flip-charts, and materials consulted (e.g. reports, statistical charts), is essential for future reference and decision-making. Campaign planning is an iterative process – moving back and forth between the different steps is necessary to integrate new insights gained at each stage of planning. Comprehensive documentation helps to ensure that critical decisions, agreements, potential risks and other campaign dynamics are captured each step of the way to provide a frame of reference to move the campaign forward.
  • Formative research, i.e. research carried out before and during the campaign to determine and refine the campaign strategy and implementation, provides accurate, up-to-date information to build the strategy on a sound basis. The complexity and nature of formative research depends on a number of factors, including the nature of the campaign. For example, in an advocacy campaign for legal change, analysis of law, law-making processes, the institutions involved and ways of influencing these will be key topics for formative research. In behaviour change campaigns, formative research examines the prospective target audience, their behaviour and the factors which influence it. In social marketing, formative research is used to determine the best ways to reach the target audiences. 

Formative research should combine several methods and use different sources of information so as to take into account different perspectives and cross-check the data obtained. Where resources are insufficient for large-scale surveys, participatory research methods, e.g. focus group discussions, can be used to obtain basic information. See Monitoring and Evaluation in this module for guidance on data collection.





Example: The Red Flag Campaign run by Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action in the United States, systematically conducted focus groups discussions to inform their research and evaluation. In a first phase, they used focus groups to determine what college students thought about dating relationships, and their willingness to intervene if they witnessed something that was troubling. After the initial campaign posters were created, the designers reconvened the focus groups to ask students if the wording used was appropriate, whether the target audience could identify with the models, and whether the poster design enhanced the message. The designers then made changes based on that feedback.


See the Campaign Planning Guide Table of Contents to get a sense of the scope and depth of preparatory work recommended before implementing the campaign.


Source: Potter, S. (2008): Incorporating Evaluation into Media Campaign Design, Harrisburg, PA, on VAWnet, a project of the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence/ Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence.


In large-scale campaigns, it is advisable to cooperate with research institutions so as to ensure methodological rigor, e.g. by conducting a population-based survey to gather comprehensive data on the campaign issue. But even campaigns that run on a tight budget can obtain quality scientific advice, e.g. by cooperating with students who research on the campaign topic or strategy as part of a thesis.


Example: The Cambodian government, supported by its bilateral and multilateral donors, commissioned a baseline survey on domestic violence against married women and other family members. The survey drew on the work of several organizations in Cambodia working on ending gender-based violence, including Project Against Domestic Violence (PADV), Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights (LICADHO), Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center (CWCC), Gender and Development (GAD), and Social Services of Cambodia (SSC).



The survey was based on a representative sample of 3,300 people in 13 (out of 25) provinces in 2005. A similar follow-up survey in 2009 with a sample of over 3,040 people in 13 provinces assessed the impact of the Domestic Violence Law, adopted in 2005, and related awareness-raising activities. The 2009 survey showed a significant decline in incidence of domestic violence as reported by the respondents, from 63% to 54%. The baseline surveys have been used by Cambodian NGOs as an advocacy tool to sustain attention on VAW. In 2007, for instance, the Cambodian Committee of Women (CAMBOW) produced a follow-up report called Violence Against Women: How Cambodian Laws Discriminate Against Women.

  • Monitoring is essential to verify, at regular intervals, whether the campaign progresses as planned and whether context changes call for adjustments, e.g. different tactics. It refers to the continuous process of systematic collection of data and information to stay informed of campaign activities, their outcomes, and the degree to which campaign goals and objectives are being met. Monitoring the broader environment helps to recognize new opportunities – or threats that may jeopardize campaign activities and outcomes. It is a key part of effective campaign management and therefore needs to be a prominent item in campaign planning. For more information on monitoring see Monitoring: Key Issues (under Campaign Implementation), as well as Monitoring and Evaluation in this module.
  • Resource mobilization and management: It takes money and other resources (staffing, equipment, time, etc) to run effective campaigns. The availability and efficient management of funding and other resources is a key determinant in the scope of a campaign.