I have been thinking about the differences between between supporting a campaign and supporting a movement. Is there a difference? Is it in the leadership or vision or direction? Is it in the approach? How is the environmental movement different from the campaign on toxics? If your job is to support a movement, how is that different from campaign planning? Is it possible to think of design goals and challenges to supporting a social movement?
Campaigns focus on creating targeted change and encouraging others to work on the pressure points someone has identified and that someone has figured out the messaging on. Social movements are really about many campaigns and many messages.
Campaigns are “serve me”. Social movements are self-serve.
In a movement, you need to support leaders and scale by working to attract more people into leadership. In a campaign, the leadership is known and others opinions on the campaign direction are just a distraction.
It is interesting because that distinction plays out the entire strategy on how you deploy the limited resources you have to make a big difference. If you are campaigning, you need to be directive, manage your resources and control each investment to move the campaign along a known trajectory. People within a movement run campaigns. However, if you are building a movement, invest in lowering barriers to participation, invest in viral training, invest in peer to peer connections, invest in tools and services that are self-serve and therefore scalable.
Building self-serve systems requires a completely different design.
We have self-serve banking, appointment scheduling, health-care, self-serve ticketing from airlines, self-serve gasoline, checking bags, shipping, customer support, etc.etc. Self-serve movements can use these same guidelines for self-serve design to help our thinking about movements. This reading made me really think hard about the campaigns that do this and those that don’t:
Democracy and Human Rights to Kiva, DonorsChoose, NPR, Alex’s Lemonade Stand… Movement Approach. Are you investing in a way that supports the growth of a self-serve movement ? Or are you putting money into campaigns? Both are fine but we to often confuse investing in campaigns as part of movement building.