Campaigning with a Difference — Online Campaigning for Nonprofits

Posted on
20 Oct 2020
by
Sarah Monaghan, Campaigns Manager for The Wheel

Campaigning has had to change a lot this year, and we wanted to share how we switched our Budget 2021 campaign to "online-only mode".

This pre-budget season was a very strange one. The usual fiscal noise that dominates the news cycle in the weeks before budget day was replaced by COVID-19 numbers and speculation about new restrictions.

Most organisations delayed submitting, and indeed writing, their pre-budget submissions. Instead of beginning in early summer, as we usually do, we waited to see how the July Stimulus Package would affect our budget asks. In addition to that, we also had to consider the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme and the COVID-19 Stability Fund for Community and Voluntary, Charity and Social Enterprises, looking at how they might affect our budget campaigns in a wholly unprecedented and ever-changing environment.  

Campaigning itself has been turned on its head, with our well-established line-up of in person events, photocalls, and meetings giving way to new formats like Zoom and GoToWebinar 

There are, of course, pros and cons to each way of working, but in this instance, there was simply no option but to move to pure digital campaigning. It certainly forced us to consider new creative ways of campaigning, relying primarily on digital means with social media and online meeting platforms bearing most of the brunt. 

Obviously, we have been moving toward a more digital existence for some time, with storytelling and communication through social media a key component and 80% of people in Ireland now viewing their news online (incl social media) as compared to 64% viewing on TV as their primary source (Reuters Institute Digital News Report 2020). But the acceleration of this caused by COVID –19 restrictions should have each of us considering how to be creative in campaigning on the issues of importance to us.  

At The Wheel we are also at the beginning of that transition to campaigning digitally (temporary as it may or may not be), but here are some of the small steps we took during our Budget 2021 Campaign: Recovery Through Community to move purely digital. 

Launching the Recovery Through Community Campaign 

While it was certainly our intention to launch the campaign in a bright and colourful fashion, we had anticipated and planned to have many of our members with us to do so!  Instead, abiding by restrictions, our CEO Deirdre Garvey and I braved it alone and donned branded face masks to deliver hard copies of our submission to the Department of Rural and Community Development, Department of Health, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and Department of Finance on 23 September. 

Three photos of Sarah and Deirdre delivering The Wheel's pre-budget submission.

Member Engagement with our Budget 2021 Campaign: Recovery Through Community 

While the always-welcome sense of community from gathering as a sector for these cornerstone set-pieces of the year are of course altered, there are gains and learnings to be taken from it also. Not least we could see cross-country engagement from our members for events that would traditionally be held in Dublin and therefore difficult to travel to.   

We moved our pre–budget member briefing online on the 29 September to hear an overview of our pre-budget submission and our Budget 2021 campaign.  

Never ones to miss an opportunity, we captured the following great shot of a few of our members uniting to ask Government to #FUNDCOMMUNITY in Budget 2021. 

Members of The Wheel hold up pieces of paper with letters written on them. Together, they spell out #FUNDCOMMUNITY.

Thanks so much to our contributors: WALK, Youth Advocate Programmes Ireland, Firstlight, Central Remedial Clinic, Cybersafe Ireland, Asthma Society of Ireland, Aontas, Autism Spectrum Disorders Initatives, Irish Advocacy Network, Huntstown Family Resource Centre, and Volunteer Ireland.   

*Note – the latest upgrade from Zoom now allows you to physically move and re-order zoom screens as you want them – which will be a great bonus for future photo ops of this kind! 

In addition, we asked our members to become involved in the campaign in three key ways: 

  1. Contact their local TD 
  2. Attend our budget webinar series 
  3. Support the campaign on social media

All three actions were purely and wholly accessible online. 

Political Engagement with our Budget 2021 Campaign: Recovery Through Community 

While we could not gather at the gates of Leinster House to present our pre-budget submission to TDs as we have in previous years, we are delighted to still receive such positive cross-party political engagement for our Budget Campaign: Recovery Through Community.  

Photos of the following political figures holding The Wheel's pre-budget submission: Jim O’ Callaghan TD (Fianna Fáil); Neale Richmond TD (Fine Gael); Malcolm Noonan TD (Minister of State, Green Party); Paul Donnelly TD (Sinn Féin); Gary Gannon TD (Social Democrats); Seán Sherlock TD (The Labour Party); Joan Collins TD (Right to Change).

(Clockwise L-R): Jim O’ Callaghan TD (Fianna Fáil); Neale Richmond TD (Fine Gael); Malcolm Noonan TD (Minister of State, Green Party); Paul Donnelly TD (Sinn Féin); Gary Gannon TD (Social Democrats); Seán Sherlock TD (The Labour Party); Joan Collins TD (Right to Change).    

Many thanks to all who engaged with the campaign by snapping a photo of themselves with our pre-Budget submission.   

Questions? Email sarahm@wheel.ie.