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Issues to consider when ending a campaign

Last edited: January 03, 2012

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In an unfortunately not uncommon scenario, the planned time-span for the campaign has elapsed; activities have been carried out as intended; and resources have been depleted. But the goals have not yet been reached, the outcomes produced are disappointing, and there are no resources available to continue.

Thorough strategic planning and regular monitoring can reduce the risk of such disappointing situations, but ultimately, even a good campaign can fail, as there are often many external factors at play which lie beyond the control of campaigners. Such factors can include unexpected shifts in the public policy environment, natural disasters, political crises, economic downturns, etc.

In addition, perhaps the wrong goal was chosen, but valuable outcomes have still been achieved. These outcomes can help shape future efforts to re-strategize and modify goals in new or revived campaigns.

To draw lessons for the future, it is useful to:

  • Evaluate the campaign: what are the internal and external factors that have hampered goal attainment? What could be done in the future to remove these obstacles?
  • Mitigate potential harm: If it is unlikely to attain the goal through more campaigning, steps must be taken to limit possible harm for the target audiences. What other initiatives and organizations are active on the campaign issue and can offer support to VAW survivors who may need it? These should have been mapped early in the strategic planning process. VAW survivors and others affected by VAW should be referred to these initiatives.
  • Raise more resources: If promising ways of overcoming difficulties have been identified, options for renewed fundraising efforts should be considered. Conversely, campaigners could also choose to continue on a minimal budget, adjusting goals, outcomes and activities accordingly.
  • Sharing lessons learned: to prevent future campaigns from running into the same difficulties, even bad experiences should be made available to others.


Dissemination of learning and global knowledge sharing

Whatever the outcome of a campaign, lessons learnt and key findings from evaluations should be shared widely within the campaign alliance and among other campaigners, possibly world-wide, so as to build a body of knowledge for future reference. Learning can be disseminated in many ways, including specialized journals, speeches at relevant conferences and meetings, and information portals, e.g. the UN WOMEN Virtual Knowledge Centre, C-Change: Communications for Change website (USAID), or the BRIDGE gender and development website. Because the local context can vary so widely in any given situation, before using any learning materials in their campaigns, campaigners should pre-test these, or evaluate their content with their prospective audiences in mind. This can be done for example, through focus groups, through consultation with those who shared the evaluation of their campaign, or even through having external specialists in the field who are not familiar with the campaign read and comment on lessons learnt.

Dissemination of learning has long been neglected in campaigning on violence against women and girls; only in recent years have evaluations – particularly the few on VAW and behaviour change campaigns – started to be publicized. Please refer to Sample Campaign Evaluations in the Monitoring and Evaluation section of this module, and the Tools Section of the Virtual Knowledge Centre for more information and links to existing evaluation reports.