“When staff went to their first event they’d come back awed by what others were doing, anxious but determined to try things out. From the second event they’d come back comfortable they understood their job. At event three they would be presenting, proud, full of confidence and at the cutting edge of the sector. “
I (Duane) was talking with Alison Goldsworthy about both the challenge of knowing the value of Campaigning Forum event (aka ECF) to members and especially of the value of repeat participation in the ECF annual events. So she kindly offered to write an article about it (while working full time on her Masters in the US!). Below is that article (Thanks Alison!).
Of particular relevance to those wondering “should I participate in successive ECF events” (or to managers trying to decide about who to send) is this quote towards the end:
“As part of any induction process, I signed staff up to the list and always sent them to the ECF annual event. A familiar pattern developed that when they went to their first eventthey’d come back awed by what others were doing, anxious but determined to try things out. Fromthe second eventthey’d come back comfortable they understood their job. At event three they would be presenting, proud, full of confidence and at the cutting edge of the sector. “
Join the Campaigning Forum (ECF)
How I (and my staff) benefited from the Campaigning Forum event
by Alison Goldsworthy
The Campaigning Forum event and community has been an exceptionally valuable learning tool for me since joining as a fresh face somewhat naive graduate in 2005. At the time e-campaigning was transforming, and the sector professionalizing and Liberty X were playing at the leavers ball. The community and events have been a backbone along which my career has evolved. It’s a story familiar across the sector..
The tentative first steps
With few places to go for advice I was delighted to stumble in to a small but growing group of people already grappling issues confuddling me. Even better, many of them had come up with solutions. I sat and listened, like some goggle eyed and impressed eavesdropper, picking up ideas and learning ways to explain them to senior management. For someone based out in the sticks (ok Cardiff, so just not London) it exposed me to discussions I would otherwise have never come across.
Moving in to my first management role, ECF once again came to the fore. Forget advertising in The Guardian or Third Sector, if you wanted to effectively get the word out there for jobs, the ECF list was where you turned. Increasingly I used the ideas of others for inspiration as we drove forwards campaigns that changed laws and improved lives.
The list also showed me the power of networks and introductions. Management is tough, especially when you are 23 and in charge of some bolshy and brilliant campaigners – I reached out to others for their advice. For that alone, and the many mistakes it has prevented me making, ECF should have got my entire training budget.
The awkward teenage years
Those networks and the events that Duane and the ECF team run became even more important as I tried to figure out what direction to take my career. Never boring, ECF acted as a great place to showcase what I’d done, get some brutal feedback and see what others were up to. When I set up my own agency, as many others now do, it helped me understand my own worth and value. Don’t undersell yourself people, doing campaigning well is hard work!
There is no way I would have landed my last big job in the sector or been spurred to develop the work of Which? without ECF. By that stage, the group of people who I’d occasionally have off list ‘discussions’ with (i.e me emailing them privately to tell them I thought they were very wrong, then them returning the favour in kind!) had started meeting privately to provide peer support over beers and board games.
As part of any induction process, I signed staff up to the list and always sent them to the ECF annual event. A familiar pattern developed that when they went to their first event they’d come back awed by what others were doing, anxious but determined to try things out. From the second event they’d come back comfortable they understood their job. At event three they would be presenting, proud, full of confidence and at the cutting edge of the sector. Occasionally when we’d done something especially interesting I’d mail the list about it, keen to share the knowledge that had helped me so much a decade before.
There’s no substitute for the power of the frank, supportive networks that ECF engenders. Through events and online communications it is inclusive and nurturing. As one of the members now longer in the tooth, I’m never too busy to try and give back to whip-smart people involved who keep me on my toes. It’s grown to quite the community, my message to its members would be take part, meet people, and if you’d like to see it develop in a certain way Duane is really rather lovely to have a cheeky Nandos with.
Alison Goldsworthy spent over 10 years in various campaigning roles. Currently a Sloan Fellow at Stanford University in the MSx programme, she was Head of Supporter Strategy and Engagement at Which? from 2013-2016