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Scaling up

Last edited: January 03, 2012

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In the campaigning context, the term ‘scaling-up’ is used to refer to an increase in the depth (or breadth) of a campaign to achieve broader impact. It can involve expanding target audiences, campaign themes, capacities, activities, communications and geographical coverage (both within countries and from one country to another), as well as the necessary funding to carry this out.

Campaigns that are to be scaled-up should typically have been carried out successfully at a smaller scale, or in a ‘pilot’ phase, with a rigorous monitoring and evaluation process to assess strengths, weaknesses, good practices, and impact. In addition, there are campaigns that have been scaled-up in terms of being ‘replicated’ from one country to another, that is, from a national to global scale. Often in these cases – for example in global, annual campaigns such as the White Ribbon campaign and the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender Violence campaign –  there is a campaign model or set theme (a different one each year for instance) that is provided by the campaign initiators that others can follow. Activities may differ widely therefore from one local or national context to the next, but the overall campaign theme, messaging and implementation model are largely the same, which adds an important coherence to the impact of the overall campaign.

Forms of scaling up 

  • From “pilot” or smaller scale to full scale: One can envisage scaling up as enlarging the target audiences in different ways – increasing the number of people to be reached within a specific audience (e.g. 100% of female high school students instead of 20%), adding similar audiences from different geographic areas (e.g. from one school to a whole school district), or targeting entirely different audiences (e.g. school principals and teachers in addition to school girls). Scaling up could also involve adding or targeting different sectors (e.g. health, law enforcement, legal), or forms of VAW (e.g. domestic violence, sexual harassment, sexual violence, etc.). Innovative behaviour change campaigns, for example, may start at a small scale, e.g. within a specific community, so as to test and validate the campaign strategy, and adjust it if needed. It is essential to define during the initial planning process what information is needed, at what moments, to determine whether the campaign strategy can be considered effective and thus apt for up-scaling. The monitoring system should include specific indicators and “milestones” and generate this information in a timely manner. Different monitoring methods, including quasi-experimental design, can be used. (See Monitoring and Evaluation in this module for guidance). 
  • From national to international: Campaigns that start in one country can be successfully replicated in other parts of the world, or can build alliances with campaigns in other countries so as to exert greater influence at national and international levels. Similar contexts can make it possible to transplant a campaign model without substantial modification. E.g., the White Ribbon Campaign – which targets men and boys – started in Canada and has expanded to 60 countries around the world. To enhance the chances of a successful transfer of the campaign model, a full strategic planning process should be carried out and monitoring be planned carefully. Omitting this step could lead to ineffective implementation that is not adapted to local contexts, thus confusing target audiences, wasting resources and damaging the credibility of the campaig

Example: In 2008, Breakthrough launched its Bell Bajao/Ring the Bell campaign to call on men and boys across India to take a stand against domestic violence (DV), by performing a simple bystander intervention – ringing the door bell when they witnessed DV taking place. The campaign’s integrated cultural, organizing and media strategy sought to make the issue part of mainstream conversation; increase knowledge about and change community attitudes towards DV and towards HIV-positive women; and alter individual behaviour. By 2010, through their PSAs on television, radio and print, their online multimedia campaign, educational materials and travelling video van, over 130 million people had been reached.  In addition, more than 75,000 rights advocates were trained to become agents of change – their combined efforts resulted in a 49 percent increase in the number of people aware of the Protection of Women from Domestic Violence Act in India, and a 15 percent increase in access to services for survivors. 

At the 2010 Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, a commitment was announced to expand Bell Bajao on a global scale in 2011. In addition, as part of the UNiTE Campaign to End VAW, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has publicly endorsed Bell Bajao. Visit the Bell Bajao Global Campaign website.

Practical Instructions for scaling up

The German development agency GTZ offers step-by-step guidance on scaling-up. It is designed for development projects but can easily be applied to campaigns:

Step 1: Select the item to be scaled up.

Obtain a precise and concise description of the experience from the project that has been selected for scaling up (capitalizing on experience):

-      What are the good practices that can be generalized and applied independently of the project context?

-      Under what financial and institutional conditions can they be generalized?

Step 2: Formulate the scaling-up strategy.

When designing the scaling-up strategy, several key aspects should be highlighted and presented/documented:

-      The presentation of the innovation

-      The hypotheses for the scaled-up innovation, taking into account the sustainable financing of the innovation

-      At which level will which results be achieved?

-      The communication strategy

-      The strategy for negotiation with the participating actors

-      The forms of intervention and support by the  stakeholders.

Detailed planning is virtually impossible. But it is useful to reach agreement with the key partners on milestones and cut-off points.

Step 3: Select partners for scaling up.

Partners must be selected on the basis of their core competencies for communication, knowledge management, advocacy, policy advice and other criteria. The strategy requires a stakeholder analysis that extends beyond the cooperation system of the current development project.

Step 4: Provide financial and human resources.

Scaling up is often a tough negotiation process of unforeseeable duration. Resources will be needed not only for the start-up phase. Sufficient financial and human resources must be made available to sustain the innovation.

Step 5: Monitoring and quality assurance

In the course of the scaling-up process, new actors affect the innovation that is being scaled up. Compromises need to be negotiated, and concessions made. Joint monitoring within the partner system guarantees the quality assurance and steering of the process. It is essential that the core of the innovation can actually be transported, disseminated and mainstreamed by the scaling-up process. Expectations that are too high can block the process.

Step 6: Check progress continuously

The checklist below can be used to continuously review whether the designated development steps for the scaling-up process have been successful. Even if at the beginning of the scaling-up process many of the points included in the checklist still elicit a negative response (i.e. have as yet received inadequate attention or none at all), the tool can be used to monitor progress. Over time, more and more of the steps in the process should elicit a positive rating.


Checklist for scaling-up

1. Evaluating experiences

Have we described the experiences and good practices from the project precisely and in a structured fashion?

Are we sufficiently familiar with the financial and institutional conditions for scaling up?

2.    Scaling-up strategy

Have we discussed the hypotheses for scaling up with various key partners?

Have we discussed and agreed on milestones and cut-off points with the partners?

Have we discussed various options for scaling up and reached a sound decision in favour of one of them?

3.    Selecting partners      

Have we conducted a stakeholder analysis and discussed it with different partners?

Do the key stakeholders possess the core competencies needed for scaling up?

4.    Resources

Do we possess sufficient human and financial resources for the start-up phase?

Is the scaling up of the innovation financially secure, or is there a financing model?

5.    Monitoring and quality assurance

Do we have the instruments to monitor and steer the process together with selected partners?

Do we know what the core of the innovation to be scaled up is?


Adapted from Scaling Up in Development Cooperation. GTZ, 2010.