Your campaigns toolkit

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Becoming a campaigner

Welcome to the campaigns toolkit where you will find all the information needed to empower you to run your own campaigns.

All campaigns start with a passion or idea, which is turned into a series of events or actions used to create a positive impact. It can be called influencing, raising your voice, advocacy or campaigning but they are all about creating change. Whether it’s lobbying for improved access to sanitary products or increased support for Estranged students, running a campaign is about wanting to create positive changes in the world.

Anyone can run a campaign. The resources below will help you take your first steps towards becoming a effective campaigner. Scroll down to find out more...

Don't know where to start?

Your 'smart' goals

Before you start your campaign, you need to pinpoint exactly what you would like to change, considering what the issue is, and why it's a problem. Once you have identified the problem, you can turn that around into solutions or ‘goals’ to form the basis of want you want from your campaign.

Your campaign goal is the overarching thing you want to change. It sets the purpose of your campaign and should describe what you want to achieve.

Your campaign objectives are the smaller steps you will take to achieve this.

To help set your campaign objectives use the SMART model below.

To increase recycling rates in the SU.
To increase recycling rates by 15% in the SU.
To increase recycling rates by 15% in the SU.
To increase recycling rates by 15% in the SU.
To increase recycling rates by 15% in the SU by January 2022.
Something to note:

If your campaign is focusing on raising awareness of an issue, and not designed to solve an issue, you can still set SMART goals because you are looking at making tangible behavioural change. However, it might not seem so clear how to measure the impact. Why not think about ways that you can? For example, if you're aiming to raise awareness of student safety, perhaps something as simple as asking people what they know before and after an event can be an effective way of measuring impact. If there's been an increase in their knowledge, you've made tangible change!

The four campaign stages

How to start
your campaign

How to start your campaign

Not sure where to begin with your campaign? The resources below will help you identify the problem you want to change, figure out what you want your campaign to achieve and introduce the key steps to researching and collecting evidence to support your campaign.

Problem tree

Before you start your campaign you need to identify the problem and what exactly you want to change, think about what the issue is and why it is a problem.

A way of visualising this is to use a problem tree.

The problem tree is a tool used to understand the cause and effect of problems in relation to the core problem. Each part of the tree represents a different point of the problem.

Write the problem you have identified on the tree trunk
On the roots write down all possible causes of the problem. Try and explore all possible factors including social, economic and political causes including attitudes and behaviours.
On the branches, write down the consequences of the problem.

Once you have identified the cause of the problem you can flip it and find solutions which will start to form the basis of your campaign.



Imagine you are asked to complete a jigsaw. However, as you look through the pieces you realise you have not been given the bigger picture you are creating.

In some cases, you can guess and piece it together, however, having no big picture to look at can make the process a lot more difficult.

The same principle applies to running a campaign, you need to start off with that big picture of what you are wanting to create. This is your campaign goal.

Your campaign goal is the overarching thing you are wanting to change. It helps set the purpose of your campaign and should describe what you are wanting to achieve.

Top tips for setting a campaign goal:

Use the SMART format to help set your aims
Try and limit yourself to only 3/4 aims within your campaign
Remember who your target audience is (will they understand jargon?)
Don’t forget to set time aside to review your aims
Something to note:

Having a clear campaign goal will help keep your campaign on track. Once you have established your goal, make sure you refer to it often.

To help achieve your goal and keep you on track, campaigners set ‘mini targets’ called aims or objectives.

These act as stepping stones to help keep your campaign grounded, provide direction and increase the likelihood of succeeding in your campaign.

Building an Evidence Base

Knowledge is crucial to running a successful campaign, with detailed facts and figures forming the bedrock of any campaign.

To do this you need to consider what you need to know and where you can find this information.

To start building your evidence base, you need to know exactly what to research. Look at your campaign goal and what questions need to be answered in order to reach your goal.

If your campaign goal is to increase the amount of vegan and vegetarian options across campus, you may want to consider asking the following questions to know what areas to research:

  • What options are offered already?
  • Why are vegan and vegetarian options needed?
  • Do other campus' offer a wide variety?
Something to note:

Chances are this will not be the first time this issue has been raised, so it’s worth having a look to see what other studies have been done. Consider looking at organisations based outside of the UK for research as they can offer a different perspective and a larger scale.

Where to look?

Try tapping into government research and knowledge which could include:

Category Source
Local Durham SU
Durham University
Ask your MPs
Durham County Council
National National Union of Students (NUS)
Student Unions
Office for National Statistics (OFS)
Parliamentary briefings/Hansard
Trade Unions
British Medical Organisations
Global Trade Organisations
United Nations
Charities (e.g. Oxfam, Water Aid)
Other Governments

Freedom of Information (FOI)

Using the Freedom of Information (FOI) and Environmental Information Regulations (EIRs) is a common and often very effective campaigning tool to help build up the evidence for a campaign or gain crucial information on how decisions were made.

Myth Buster

False: Anybody can apply for a FOI.

Myth buster

You must work within the organisation to apply for an FOI...
Click to reveal the answer


FOI is a legislation that gives access to any non-personal recorded information held on behalf of central government, local authorities and other public bodies, unless a specific exemption allows the authority to refuse to give this information.

If you apply for a FOI be as specific as possible with the information you are asking. Sometimes information acquired through FOI requests can also produce an interesting angle for a media story.


How to launch
your campaign

How to launch your campaign

Planning an effective launch can ensure your campaign has a maximum and lasting impact. The resources below will guide you through selecting your campaign tactics, using social media to support your launch and how to plan your campaign timeframe.

Deciding your tactics

Once you have established who you are targeting your campaign at, you can then decide what necessary actions you want to take to achieve your campaign goal. These actions are often referred to as campaign tactics

To run an effective campaign, you need to pick the right tactic, at the right time and with the right audience. However, it can be easy to plunge straight into discussing one or two ideas and not consider other creative and interesting campaign tactics.

The following exercises can help you consider which tactics to use:

Fastest thoughts

This exercise helps you think of a large number of tactics quickly. The idea is to encourage creativity and energy.

  • In the middle of a large piece of paper, write down the issue that needs to be tackled.
  • Ask people to say whatever comes into their heads as fast as possible without censoring it.
  • Have one or two note takers to write down all the ideas.
  • Make sure there is no discussion or comment on each others ideas (structured thinking and planning can come later).
  • After everyone has finished, check all ideas are clear and ask for any further explanations if necessary.


This exercise will help you think of advantages and disadvantages of tactics but don’t discount the crazier ideas straight away, sometimes these are the ones with the most potential.

  • Get a large piece of paper.
  • On the left, write down the problem you are wanting to tackle.
  • In a column next to it, list the actions you might take (look back at your campaign goal and aims).
  • Next to them write down the benefits, limitations and consequences of each action.
Problem Action Benefit Consequence Limitation
Too much single use plastic on campus Create a single use plastic sculpture and display in the Palatine Raises awareness, uses up the plastic, opportunity for people to get involved Annoy people and permission needed to display sculpture Could we collect enough plastic?
How do we create a sculpture?

Task Match

This exercise will help you explore the skills and resources you already have in your group and think about the tactics they could help you with.

  • Cut up lots strips of paper and hand a few out to everybody.
  • Ask people to write down their skills, equipment or other resources they have access to (each suggestion should be on separate pieces of paper). You do not need to have the resources directly e.g. my friends trailer.
  • When everyone has finished writing, spread the suggestions out in front of you.
  • Move the pieces of paper into groups.
  • Then use these groups to think of campaign tactics e.g., the skill of sewing or painting could be grouped together to give you the idea of a street carnival (possibly more exciting than just leafleting).
Something to note:

Be flexible during your campaign, if something unexpected happens, consider turning it into an opportunity and look into using a different tactic to continue to build pressure and create an impact.


Use the campaign tactic generator for more ideas on actions and activities you could do.

Creating a plan

Creating a plan for your campaign ensures that you have a method laid out to achieve your campaign goal and aims and are able to keep on track, foresee busy periods and maintain good communication with all involved.

An effective way to help you plan out your campaign is to use a timeline. Timelines give you an idea of how many different things you may have to do and when they need doing by.

Timelines can take many formats, however, there are a few basic tips you can follow when you start planning.

  • Work out what your overall time frame is e.g. how long will it take you to achieve your aims (an awareness raising week, 1 term, the whole academic year or longer)
  • Work out what tasks need to be done when (does a letter need to be written by a certain date, will exam period get in the way, do you need to submit a motion to Assembly)
  • Once you have plotted out the course of your campaign, you can see how much work it will take and whether your plans are realistic
  • Look for big gaps in your timeline and consider redistributing your tactics and think about what to do next. Starting off with lots of tactics can be tempting, but this could mean after 2 months everyone is exhausted. You want to ensure you and your campaign doesn’t lose momentum.
  • Consider adding more confrontational tactics (e.g. protest) further into your time frame to give yourself time to build momentum and gain more supporters.
Something to note:

When planning out your time frame, make sure you check how much time and energy people in your campaign are willing to give to the project. This will help you plan better and ensure everyone knows what to expect.

In order to...

This exercise can help you understand whether a course of action is realistic or should be dropped in favour of something else. It can also show how a crazy sounding idea can actually be completely practical!

  • Think of an action that needs completing to achieve your aims
  • Then complete the sentence… ‘In order to do *insert action* we need/have to/should…’

This will help you work out what the action needs to be successful. You can then check whether you have enough time, energy and resources in the group for this action.

Something to note:

Fighting for positive change can be tiring and campaigners can suffer from burnout. When you plan out your campaign consider people’s limits and add in time to de-brief and relax. If you notice anyone in your campaign group getting tired out, check-in on them and see if any of their responsibilities can be shared around. If that isn’t possible, can you re-evaluate your plans so that they are less intense? Everyone should be aware of their own personal limits and not take on too much - take a look at our self care section for more information.

Spreading the word

To get your campaign out there, good publicity and outreach are essential for communicating your campaign message and getting people involved to take actions. Successful campaigners are constantly reaching out and ensuring their presence is known to people.

Below are some top tips for raising the profile of your campaign:

Create a brand

When creating a brand, try and create material ahead of time so when you are in the middle of your campaign you have everything prepared and ready to go.

Make sure you have some consistency in your brand, including the language you use, pictures, colours and font type.

The tone can be causal, funny or serious, just make sure you choose a tone that matches your target audience!

Think of clear messages that you want to send out. People won't read messages that are too long or wordy, but they need to be informative so that it grabs their interest. You could draft a communication plan with scripts, launch day announcements and any updates you have planned.

Top tip!

Canva is a free online tool that can help you design graphics and advertising materials for your campaign.

Create the right kind of content

Content can be used to raise awareness of your campaign. When creating content consider who your target audience is and where they find their information sources:

  • Blog posts
  • Facebook/Instagram/Twitter updates
  • eBooks
  • Guest posts from a YouTuber or Alumni who has a big following
  • Tutorials on ‘how to’
  • Videos with a ‘call to action’
  • Student specific sites (The Tab, Palatinate)


Good promotion can help you effectively raise the awareness of your campaign.

Some popular options to consider are:

  • Facebook advertisements
  • Tweets
  • Instagram (specifically Instagram stories)
  • Student radio/newspaper ads
  • Display boards
  • Leaflets
  • Hashtags
  • Hosting an event or workshop
Top tip!

You can contact our campaigns coordinator for the SU to help promote your campaigns.


If you are using social media channels to promote your campaign, consider scheduling in posts before your campaign launches to save you time during busy periods.

Don't forget...

The SU offers up to £100 worth of funding to help with your campaigns. You can apply here.


How to build

How to build pressure

The challenge of campaigning can be ensuring momentum isn’t lost so the person/organisation you are campaigning against continue to feel pressure.

The resources below will help you identify who your targets are, who your allies are and how to ensure you can form an argument.

Power Mapping


1 - Who is your target?

Targets generally include:

- Those responsible for creating the problem

- Those who have the power to fix the problem (but are not doing so)

- Those who are working to fix the problem. This includes you and your group!

You can have both primary (the person who has the power to grant your demands) and secondary (the person that can influence the primary target to grant your demands) targets.

Something to note:

You might need to research your targets further to find out who actually is the decision maker.

2 - Who has the power?

Each target you have identified will have a varying level of influence/power.

You can use the graph to establish where each target would fit.

Power mapping tool
Something to note:

Draw out a version of this graph. Put each stakeholder on a post-it note. Depending how supportive or how much power they hold on the issue, place them appropriately on the diagram.

3 - Finding the connections

Once you have plotted your targets on the graph, you can identify your primary target.

This is who has the most influence over the issue and who is most likely to give you what you want. The ideal target would be the most supportive and most influential.

Now you have identified your target it’s time to map the connections and relationships you might have with them.

Put your target in the centre of a piece of paper, and then map out the connections to them that you know about.

Consider questions such as who does your target have meetings with and who do they work with?

Ultimately you are wanting to create a connection to trace any target back to yourself or a member of your campaign team.

4 - Keep up to date!

Power can shift! Make sure to revise and revisit who your primary target is, as and when needed. You’ll know when!

Spectrum of Allies

Campaigns often recruit advocates or allies to help promote their cause.

The tool below can help you think about the people you have access to that can help support your campaign, as well as the people that still need convincing.

Move from right to left, placing different individuals or groups in each wedge. You can then start to design actions or tactics to move your people from one wedge to the next.

For this tool to work effectively you need to be specific, ‘the public’ is too broad and your campaign actions might not be as effective.

Spectrum of allies

Active support: People who agree with you and are organising alongside you

Passive support: People who agree but aren’t doing anything about it (yet!)

Neutrals: People who aren’t sure, or are unengaged (they might just not know about you yet)

Passive Opposition: People who disagree, but aren’t trying to stop you

Active opposition: people who have done something to prevent you from reaching your goal

Creating an argument

When talking to people about your campaign, a key way to get them engaged is through using the Anger, Hope, Action model of engagement. This model takes people through the emotional stages of being angry about an issue, hopeful there is a solution, and then invites them to get involved by giving them an action.

Make someone angry about the issue. Explain to them what you are campaigning about and why it is unfair or unjust.
Don’t leave someone angry about the issue. Give them hope that it can change. Identify why there is hope at this particular moment. Talk to them about it and why it is so important to support your campaign at the moment and what the chance of success is.
This is the most important part of the conversation and often the part that most people forget. Always have a clear action you’d like people to take and ask them to commit to it.

The action can be anything that meaningfully takes your campaign forward, from signing up to being part of the campaign team, attending the next meeting or joining in a protest.

Apathy staircase

When running your campaign you may encounter people who do not share the same enthusiasm as you. Encountering apathy is often a problem for campaigners, but there are ways to overcome this. Sometimes, apathy is not deliberate, but actually is down to a lack of information or having different priorities to yourself.

To gain support, you need to get people engaged. You can do this by showing people how relevant your campaign is to them and what they care about.

The apathy staircase below can help, just start from the bottom and work your way up!


Give people a call to action, talk about how you are going to make this change and what they can do to get involved.


Next, illustrate how it is possible for their experience to change. Encourage them to think about the benefits of this change, how this change would come about and who can make that decision.


Show the person how their experience is unfair or wrong. Try and use a comparison to help to do this e.g. showing that there is an alternative to their experience.


What is the persons experience of the issue? How will your campaign affect them?

Escalation guide

You need to make sure your target is always aware your campaign is serious and isn’t going away. The best way to do this is to figure out a series of tactics and actions that will build momentum and pressure over a few months.


When is it time escalate?

  • Your target won’t speak to you at all
  • Your target isn’t taking your campaign seriously
  • You’ve reached out to the decision makers and they just won’t move

Why escalate?

  • To increase the pressure on targets when other tactics have appeared to fail
  • To ensure the campaign remains fun and exciting for both campaigners and increasing support
  • To show that you aren’t planning on backing down

How to escalate?

Increase your supporters
  • The more people you can get involved and supporting your campaign, the more you are already winning. The best way to get people involved is to plan a journey to take them on, but don’t just plan one event, plan a series. Use each event as a platform to attract more people to the next event.
  • Run stalls at college and SU events. Make sure to talk to people and tell them about your campaign.
  • Host events such as film screenings or music nights. Consider what skills you have in your campaign team, that can be used to attract people and create an opportunity for them to join your campaign.
Get creative
  • Once you have attracted more people you can start to think about how you will attract more attention, build momentum further and start to think bigger.
  • Consider symbolic or creative actions e.g. a silent protest.
Direct action
  • Direct action can produce some great outcomes, at their best they can shift power and lead to some big wins. However, you should only move into this space if you have had some training in non-violent direct action, and you’ve planned well and thought through the risk. Make sure you feel comfortable going ahead weighing up the risks involved.
  • Direct action is used to ensure your target cannot ignore you for any longer by disrupting things as much as possible.


Moving forward

Checking in or evaluating your campaign regularly can help your campaign continue to move forward. Use this section to understand the benefits of monitoring and evaluating your campaign, key questions to ask yourself and some top tips to ensure the wellbeing of you and your campaign team.

Reviewing your campaign

A key part of running a campaign is reviewing what you have done so you can learn from your successes and challenges and to see if you are on track for achieving your aims.

You should look to review your campaign at least half way through and at the end of your campaign. However, reviewing after each campaigning tactic is also an effective way to ensure your campaign remains on track.


To review your campaign effectively you should both monitor and evaluate your campaigns progress:

Monitoring: Throughout your campaign journey, regularly measure and assess what is going on against your campaign aims. This provides you with the opportunity to learn from any barriers or successes and adapt your campaign strategy to suit.

Evaluation: At the end of your campaign, take a look back to draw out learning outcomes that you can feed into future campaign work. You could ask members of your campaign team to get a better reflection of what worked well and what did not.

Why should you review your campaign?

To strengthen the impact of your campaign: Reviewing regularly throughout your campaign can help you assess where you need to focus your efforts and increase momentum, for example, did you have greater success with a particular tactic?
Influence future campaigns: By evaluating your campaign you are providing crucial evidence for future campaigners to learn from your mistakes and successes.

Key questions to ask

  • What is going well/what should we continue doing?
  • What can we improve?
  • What has not gone to plan?
  • What was supposed to happen, what actually happened and why were they different?
  • How has our understanding of our campaign changed?


Running and being part of a campaign can be exceptionally rewarding, however, the emotional demands on campaigners can be tough when you are continuously prioritising the needs of others and fighting for social justice. To help combat campaign burnout, something to remember is the importance of self-care and looking after yourself during your campaign.

Listen to your body
Your body can’t run on empty. If you are trying to brainstorm at 8:00pm at night after a full day's work and you haven’t eaten dinner, the probability you’re going to do your best work is very low. Make sure you listen to what your body is saying and keep it well looked after.
Relax and unwind
Set some time aside to do an activity you enjoy that will help you relax. Some examples from the SU staff team include:
  • Have a bath (add candles for added luxury)
  • Take a walk, go swimming or try an exercise class
  • Cook a nice meal
  • Have a pamper session, paint your nails, do a facemask
  • Call someone for a chat
Set boundaries
Try and set your own personal boundaries during your campaign, some good ones to think about are: having clear communicative guidelines on the ways you like to work; taking rest breaks (spending a night watching Netflix in your pj’s is totally fine) and making ‘no’ a part of your vocabulary and not feeling guilty for it!

Overall, never forget that self-care activities are completely personal and how you engage in any form of self-care is entirely down to you. Some people may enjoy a long bubble bath, whereas others may find this stressful. What’s important is finding a self-care idea that works for you.

Something to note:

Taking care of yourself is not a selfish activity, it just ensures you are in the best position to help others and continue to create positive change in the world.


Generate your campaign tactics!

Tactics or actions are used in a campaign to progress it to the next stage. A strong campaign uses a combination of tactics and different timescales to ensure momentum doesn’t slow and continues to be built upon.

When devising your campaign tactics, remember to consider your target audience. Make sure you have a clear idea of what you want your tactics to achieve and if it’s worth it.

Something to note:

Always make sure you have the right permissions to carry out any campaign action. Be a safe campaigner, don't put you or anyone else at risk!

Click the button below to generate a campaign tactic suggestion, or you can download the document for all the tactics in one place!


Protests can act as a platform for upset and disapproval to be heard. This type of activism can be crucial for creating the groundwork for change. A good protest can inspire lots more people to join your cause. Make sure you clearly define the change you want to see, and scope out and make contact to everyone that could be a potential ally.

Let's work through your campaign!

Now it’s your turn! Use the generator below to create your own campaign using the resources available in the toolkit.

You can choose to plan your campaign online or download the form manually.

Work through my campaign now!

Download a form for offline


    What is the problem?

    What needs to change?

    What is your campaign goal?

    How will you achieve your goal?

    What do you need?

    Who can help?

    Who has the power?

    What tactics will you use?

    What challenges could you face?

    What does success look like?