Global Campaigns in the Clicktivist Era

By Gabrielle Fitzgerald Panorama Founder and CEO

We all know we live in a globally inter-connected world. Changes in technology have greatly changed our daily lives, and we can now quickly speak out on issues that used to be distant problems. The current example is the atrocious kidnapping of school girls in northern Nigeria which has fueled international Twitter trending of the #bringbackourgirls campaign.

While it is too early to tell if the online activism of “clicktivists” will result in the girls returning to their families, there are some tried and true tactics that have been updated for the modern era and should be applied to all global campaigns.

Catalytic Coalitions – Today’s global challenges need catalytic coalitions to help solve them – coalitions that have a grand vision and big voices. Last year’s Global Vaccine Summit built a coalition of government officials, religious scholars, CEOS and philanthropists to set a huge goal to catalyze change and save children’s lives. Co-hosted by the United Nations Secretary General, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Bill Gates, the summit built political will that ensures governments fund vaccination campaigns and parents immunize their children.

Strange bedfellows – Catalytic coalitions that are made up of strange bedfellows help make the case to a diverse set of stakeholders to care about the issue at hand. The United Against Malaria campaign, which used the 2010 World Cup – the first-ever Cup held in Africa – used the popularity of soccer to encourage African leaders to prioritize malaria programs and convince people to sleep under bed nets. The campaign joined the forces of many different champions to help meet its goals: including soccer players, their teams, and leagues, African government officials, NGOs, hotel chains, grocery stores and even Nando’s, the fast-food chicken chain.

Change Agents – When planning a campaign, the first step is to figure out who the change agents are. Often the assumption is that change comes from grassroots, and there are many examples where that can drive impact. Invisible Children’s Kony 2012 viral video led to a direct change in U.S. policy. But we are also seeing an increasing trend of philanthropists serving as change agents, whether it is Michael Bloomberg in pushing gun control, Tom Steyer on climate change, or Indonesian businessman Tahir who is encouraging his friends to support TB in their home country. And there’s another group of change agents where you might least expect it – government officials. While politicians are often seen as politically craven or just plain bureaucrats, don’t forget that they are human too, and can be just as passionate about issues as the next person. The Obama administration deserves a great deal of credit for their behind-the-scenes leadership in ensuring the Global Fund for AIDS, TB and Malaria raised $12 billion in late 2013, using diplomatic efforts to ensure other governments came to the table too.

While there is no magic formula that can be applied to every global campaign, don’t be fooled in to thinking that Facebook likes and trending topics can make change on their own. Motivation, momentum and money are all key to campaigns, and are driven by catalytic campaigns, strange bedfellows and change agents. So while we tweet #bringbackourgirls, let’s make sure we combine that with the tactics that we know work to bring lasting change.

Originally posted by Gabrielle Fitzgerald on