Campaign Planner - Questions to consider when planning your campaign

Campaigning on important issues is essential to a healthy democracy. The voluntary and community sector has expertise, evidence and experience across a range of issues and plays an important role in influencing policy and effecting positive change.

What is a policy?

  • It is how political vision is translated into action/change
  • This change can take various forms- e.g. a law, tax, regulation, fund
  • It is a solution to an identified societal problem or gap
  • Delivers outcomes for citizens

What is lobbying and campaigning?

  • Seeking to influence, persuade and build relationships with decision makers and legislators to effect change.
  • In the voluntary and community sector we represent different sectors and lobby on their behalf to ensure positive outcomes for society and our environment.
  • Informing public debate and raising awareness of issues
  • Education policy and decision makers

How can we influence decisions?

  • Lobbying and engaging with politicians—MLAs, MPs, Councillors, MEPs
  • Utilising political mechanisms e.g. presenting at committees (NI Assembly, Westminster, Local councils, European Parliament)
  • All Party Groups
  • Using human rights and equality frameworks
  • Using international frameworks- e.g. Sustainable Development Goals
  • Working with others in an alliance or coalition with other groups
  • Using media and social media
  • Responding to consultations


Creating a campaign


What is your policy change objective, what do you want to achieve and what will success look like?

For example:

  • A solution to  policy need or gap
  • New/amended legislation, tax, funding
  • Stopping (reversing?) a policy decision


  • Why is this change needed?
  • Who will benefit or lose out?
  • What evidence do you have to demonstrate a need?


  • Who do you need to target to influence a decision or to bring about change?
  • Ensure you are targeting the appropriate institution i.e. Council, NI Assembly, Westminster.
  • Are you speaking to the right person? i.e. Minister, committee member, civil servant, party spokesperson?


Create a strategy.

  • How will you seek to influence?
  • Will you work with others?
  • Will you present to a committee?
  • Will you use media or social media?
  • Will you commission research?
  • Will you write letters to the Minister?
  • Will you combine a number of methods?


  • What is your timeframe and when do you expect an outcome?
  • Is there a timeframe already dictated i.e. consultation, legislation going through government?
  • Can you create your own timeframe i.e. is there a number of years past since a previous decision?
  • Are there any awareness days or festivals you can tie in with?


Will there be costs (money and time) attached to the campaign?

  • Research
  • Staff time
  • Campaign materials
  • Travel

Consider how you could reduce costs by working with other groups.

Example Campaign: Action Mental Health: ‘Regress? React? Resolve?


Securing mental health as an integral part of the 2016 Programme for Government


There was an underspend in mental health provision and non-implementation of key mental health proposals, QUB research commissioned by AMH in 2015 into mental health provision here


Targeting Minister for Health, Chair of the Health Committee, MLAs, mental health stakeholders, DoH, Health Trusts, service users


Research, Mental Health Summit, Report Launch event, hustings, social media, meetings with political reps


Assembly Election 2016 and subsequent publication of Programme for Government


Cost of research, hosting events and hustings, printing of reports and publicity material.


  • Health Minister invested £175,000 in mental trauma service.
  • Explicit reference to research recommendations prominent within political party manifestos.
  • Mental Health explicitly referenced in draft Programme for Government.


Useful links