What Charities Can Learn From The Obama Campaign


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Barack Obama's campaign for the US presidency provides some useful lessons for the voluntary sector. All charities, big and small, can learn from the tactics used by the campaign, and its successful marriage of new online techniques with classic campaigning methods.

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  • 2004: Bush beats Kerry 51% to 49% 2008: 53% of Ohio voters had been contacted personally by the Obama campaign v. 36% by McCain campaign And: Obama beats McCain 51% to 47%
  • Most charities don’t need to raise $600 million to achieve their aims Although you are competing for donor £s and attention, it is not a zero-sum competition
  • Talk about $$$ facts here
  • Making supporters feel connected to something bigger
  • But new media and communication tools are not enough. Obama himself was a community organiser and his run for the Presidency had clear hallmarks of a traditional, knock on doors campaign
  • Giving supporters tools to get involved. Clever use of web to disseminate these tools
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Up9sxl6qQS0&feature=channel_page Grassroots efforts of the 1950s, even the 1850s
  • Giving supporters a voice
  • Building social capital, making it easy for people to get involved. ‘Learn More’ is low-commitment invitation, draws people in. = FOCUS GROUP FEEDBACK
  • Making it easy for people to sign up and start participating (at a low level, with regular reminders and suggestions of how they can then go on to increase the involvement and support)
  • Giving people information about how to connect with fellow supporters and groups in their local area. Allowing real world meet-ups to happen much more easily.
  • Don’t forget to say thanks!
  • Asking supporters to help shape the future direction
  • Supporters can continue to be involved as the campaign ends and the work morphs into something different. E.g. MPs in our surveys often say that they would like to see charities staying engaged with them between campaigns.
  • What Charities Can Learn From The Obama Campaign

    1. 1. What charities can learn from the Obama Campaign Jennifer Shea, Research Director Gemma Tracey, Researcher Telephone: (020) 7426 8888 Email: gemma.tracey@nfpsynergy.net Web: www.nfpsynergy.net
    2. 4. Why all the interest in Ohio? Where IS Ohio?
    3. 5. Agenda <ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><li>A consistent message and a strong and OPEN campaign </li></ul><ul><li>Using new media to enhance (not replace) traditional campaigning </li></ul><ul><li>Keeping up the momentum </li></ul>
    4. 6. An OPEN Campaign <ul><li>O n demand </li></ul><ul><li>P ersonal </li></ul><ul><li>E ngaging </li></ul><ul><li>N etworks </li></ul>Source: Resource Interactive, http://theopenbrand.resource.com/framework.php
    5. 7. The importance of a consistent message “ Obama almost never delivered a speech from a lectern unless it was festooned with the word “change”. On Election Day, 34% of the voters said that they were looking for change, and nearly 90% of those voters chose Obama.” Ryan Lizza, The New Yorker, 17 th November 2008
    6. 9. Creating a strong visual brand Americans Abroad for Obama First Americans for Obama Jewish Americans for Obama Obama Kids LGBT Americans for Obama Veterans for Obama Republicans for Obama
    7. 10. Ceding some control to supporters can bring huge rewards
    8. 11. … but be prepared!
    9. 12. <ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><li>A consistent message and a strong and OPEN Brand </li></ul><ul><li>Using new media to enhance (not replace) traditional campaigning </li></ul><ul><li>Keeping up the momentum </li></ul>
    10. 13. Email No. 1 – be specific with deadlines
    11. 14. Email No. 2 – make supporters feel connected to something bigger
    12. 15. Obama’s background as a community organiser
    13. 16. Email No. 3 – Give supporters the tools to get involved
    14. 18. Email No. 4 – Give supporters a voice
    15. 19. Email No. 5 – Make it easy for people to get involved
    16. 20. Website screenshot No. 1 – Easy to sign up
    17. 21. Website screenshot No. 2 – local information
    18. 22. Website screenshot No. 3 – show people how they are making a difference
    19. 23. <ul><li>Introduction </li></ul><ul><li>A consistent message and a strong and OPEN Brand </li></ul><ul><li>Using new media to enhance (not replace) traditional campaigning </li></ul><ul><li>Keeping up the momentum </li></ul>
    20. 24. Website screenshot No. 4 – Don’t forget to say thanks!
    21. 25. Follow-up email No. 1 – Keep supporters involved
    22. 26. Website screenshot No. 2 – Moving on, with supporters
    23. 27. What can charities learn? <ul><li>Use new media to capitalise on supporters’ existing networks and build engagement </li></ul><ul><li>Give supporters the tools they need to be activists </li></ul><ul><li>Trust supporters and give them a voice </li></ul><ul><li>Keep supporters on board after a goal is achieved </li></ul>