Take a look through our toolkit which includes our advice and support for you when planning, running, or evaluating a Student Campaign. What are you looking for?
How do I plan my Campaign?
At NUSU, we want to support you so that you feel confident to run a successful campaign and know where to access the right support. SO. Where do you start? If you are reading this, you probably know that you want to change something, whether it is a process, policy, procedure, or a change to attitudes and ideas. The first thing to consider is whether a campaign is necessary to make your change. Or is it as simple as just asking the right person the right question? Let us know your idea and we can advise you.
If you do decide that a campaign is the best way to create your change, it is time to start planning.
Aims and Objectives
The first thing you need to do is define your campaign aim and objectives. Your aim is the overall change you want to make. For example:
- “To reduce the cost of eating on campus”
Your objectives are specific goals that will help you to achieve this general aim. For example:
- “The cost of hot drinks to be reduced to £1.30 at Newcastle University catering outlets by the end of this semester.”
- “The Robinson Library to install a microwave for student use by the end of the academic year”
The number of objectives should be determined by what you think is necessary to achieve your aim. However, when devising your objectives you want to try and make them SMART.
You also need to think about how you will measure your achievements. When it is a change to a process, procedure or policy, this is often easy to measure. However, if it is a change in attitudes and ideas, you might have to be more creative, perhaps by running surveys, getting quotes or taking photos.
Planning your Activities
Once you have your aim and objectives sorted, you need to decide how you are going to achieve them. When planning these you want to make sure that they are always linked to helping you to achieve your aim and objectives.
Suggested Campaign Activities
Here are just a few examples of what NUSU Officers and students have used to campaign with in the past. Videos / Petitions / Keynote speakers / Panel discussions / Demonstrations / Craftivism / Posters / Stalls / Events
If you are looking for some inspiration, reflect on effective campaigns that you have seen or heard about in the past or let us know what you are thinking of doing and we can help.
How do I budget correctly?
When planning your campaign, it is important to consider how much it is going to cost and whether you have the funds available to cover these costs. This will really help you also if you are planning to apply for the Campaigns Fund or one of our grants. At NUSU, there are a number of different funding opportunities that you may be able to use to access the funds that you need to run your campaign. If you are not sure about what funding is available, then let us know and we can point you in the right direction. For example:
If you are part of a Society you may want to apply for a Special Grant.
If you are looking to run a student-led volunteer project, check out Go Volunteer’s grants.
If you are looking to campaign and you are not supported by a Society, Sports Club or Go Volunteer project, check out our Campaigns Fund where you can apply for up to £300 and support your campaign.
When applying for this funding, you will need to break down the costs of your campaign. Think about the different activities that you want to undertake and itemise the costs associated with each of these. This, plus any overall costs (such as promotion), will give you a good idea of how much you will need. Remember to explore ways to keep costs down and don’t forget to look around for the best price.
Collaboration & Working Together
To help promote, grow, and develop your campaign you will need the support of like-minded individuals or groups. These are often to referred to as your campaigning allies and it is good to have as many allies as possible.
Examples of allies could include societies, clubs, reps, or your NUSU Officers.
Societies: particularly if the Society is linked to what you are trying to change. For example, if you want to run a campaign about conserving the environment, you may want to contact the Eco Society.
Sports Clubs: especially if you want to run an active campaign. For example, at NUSU we have supported the This Girl Can campaign with a number of Sports Clubs offering taster sessions.
Your Reps: there are Reps on your course, in your halls, and out in your local community. They all meet with some of the big decision-makers for the areas they are represent, so they could have a lot of influence in helping you achieve the change you want to see.
NUSU Officers: your Full-Time Officers and volunteer Liberation Officers can be a strong source of support for your campaign, particularly if it relates to their role.
University Staff: if you know of any University staff that support what you are trying to change, then they could be a great ally. They may be able to help spread the word, particularly amongst other staff, who may well be the ones you need to convince.
External Groups or Organisations: may be able to offer support, expertise, or guidance related to your Campaign. In some circumstances, they may even want to be part of it. It is often worth showing that the change you want to see happen affects those outside of the University as well and some of these external organisations can be powerful allies.
The more people supporting and backing your campaign the more influence and opportunity you have.
You may also want to consider the support of the NUSU Student Council. Student Council is a great place to gain support for your campaign. By submitting a motion you can publically announce your campaign aims and potentially gain the support of Student Council members. The University sees Student Council as a representative student group and tends to listen to their views on student concerns. You can also use motions to mandate a NUSU Officer to support and promote your campaign in the meetings they attend.
Looking after your Wellbeing
Your wellbeing is important. You can’t pour from an empty pot. Campaigning can be exciting and rewarding but does take effort and perseverance. Campaigning issues can sometimes provoke a defensive response and it is important that you don’t underestimate how that can feel. It’s hard but try to remember to not take things too personally. Just because you didn’t get the 100s of students to an event doesn’t mean the campaign is a failure. Progress can sometimes be a slow train coming! Build a team around you either with friends, Officers, or SU staff. Most probably the best way to ensure you stay well, having others to talk to if it gets to that ‘point’ is a vital part of campaigning.
Social media posts can sometimes take over the campaign and your head. If you think your campaign has the potential to create a lot of press attention, then let NUSU take over posting for a while. We can be the inbetweener and make sure you get a break from any online negativity. We can also help with PR requests.
Negative comments can happen and you might also feel resistance from those who you thought were allies. Stay strong in your belief that the changes you are trying to make are important and needed. Also, try to remember that negative comments can sometimes work in your favour. Some of the most successful campaigns have used negativity to highlight the clear need for progress.
Day to day planning and logistics such as booking rooms and getting refreshments can take up a lot of time and effort and sometimes feel overwhelming when you are in the middle of a campaign. We can help with the more mundane side of things, just ask.
Staying safe when you campaign
During a campaign, yours and the safety of others is very important. At NUSU, we have the tools and experience to help you campaign safely. From advice and guidance, links with those who can provide support, and help you to put together risk assessments, we have got you covered. Below, we have some information about support during demos. However, all campaigns are different, so if you want to talk about the specifics of your campaign, just get in touch.
Demos and rallies.
A big part of many campaigns is a large gathering to demonstrate solidarity and support in the issues that students can face. This can be really empowering and has an important part to play in visibly showing the strength of feeling on campus or in the wider city.
We are lucky to have a fully staffed security team on campus who are committed in keeping students and staff feel safe and welcome. They are also keen to support demos and rallies in a safe way. Let us know as soon as you are planning a gathering. It is important for us to help you stay safe and we can also advise you on the best locations as well as being able to set up a PA so you can be heard. The police might also get in touch if the demo has a chance of attracting an opposing crowd. Freedom of expression is an important part of campaigning but we are keen to ensure that this is done in a respectful way.
National demos and rallies outside of campus.
Your campaign might have been sparked because of a wider local or national issue. We can help you navigate a joined-up approach if you need support in this. Please keep us ‘in the loop’ of any additional plans to demonstrate if it is part of your campaign and we can help make sure your plans are safe.
Evaluating & feeding back
The best way to assess whether your campaign was successful is to consider if you achieved your aims and objectives. If you have - congratulations!
Even if you did not meet your aims and objectives, it is still important to record any other positive outcomes. For example, a campaign that did not lead to a reduction in the cost of eating on campus might have nevertheless secured a commitment from the University to a review of food prices.
When conducting your evaluation, you may want to consider the following questions.
- Did you achieve your aims and objectives?
- Were there any other positive benefits to running the campaign?
- What went well and why?
- What could have been improved and why?
- Did you engage who you needed to engage with the campaign?
- If you were to run your campaign again, what, if anything, would you do differently and why?
- Are you going to continue with your campaign? If so, what are your next steps?
The Feedback Process
It is essential that you let students know the outcome of your campaign - this helps us to continue promoting the campaign. Therefore, after your campaign put together some information about how you got on:
Tell us about your campaign aims and objectives and whether you were successful in achieving them.
Let us know if there were any other positive outcomes from your campaign.
Use any quotes, photos, or statistics that you gathered.
We can then publish website articles, videos, or blogs on our website and promote through our emails and social media highlighting how you have made a difference to students on campus.
Need to go again?
'Campaigns are not made of one-time actions. In fact, change has never happened because of a single rally. Campaigns win because they are sustained and involve building pressure over time’.
If you are looking to make a significant change then a single action might not be enough. Your first campaign might have been a good start but perhaps you need to influence more people or campaign in a different way to truly deliver the change that you want to see.
If so, don’t give up! Take what you have learned from your first campaign and build on it. Reflect on what has come out of your evaluation, what has changed since your first campaign, whether you have gained new allies, whether there any new sources of money, and most importantly of all, what your new aims and objectives are.