The Secret of Campaigning: insights from charity leaders

Charities in the 21st century have to be laser-focused on their mission, whilst grappling with new and complex demands.

An often unsustainable paradox.

And many third sector teams find themselves walking the tightrope between direct frontline service provision and broader advocacy for systemic change.

How does it all work?

The Possibility Club podcast from always possible has been asking these questions for years.

Drawing on insights from prominent charity leaders in recent episodes, we have delved into the complex interplay between delivering at scale and the barriers faced in modern-day campaigning.

The Dual Role: campaigning and frontline service

CEO of Pregnant Then ScrewedJoeli Brearly, says her experiences underscore the complexities of this duality. As an advocate against the motherhood penalty, she’s been on the frontline, directly assisting affected women disadvantaged by becoming pregnant, while simultaneously pushing for broader societal change on maternity rights.

Similarly, Jamie Klingler, with her involvement in the Reclaim These Streets campaign, highlights the tension between immediate support for affected individuals and long-term advocacy for safer streets. The question arises: can charities truly balance these roles without one overshadowing the other?

Barriers to modern-day campaigning

Dr. Julia Grace Patterson from EveryDoctor sheds light on the intricate challenges in today’s advocacy landscape. The balance between upholding core values while navigating the political spectrum is precarious. In a world saturated with information and competing narratives, genuine engagement becomes a potent tool. But, as Jamie Klingler points out, even with active engagement, campaigns can face resistance, making it imperative for charities to be strategic and adaptive.

Ideology vs. neutral advocacy

The debate about the role of ideology in charity campaigning is a potent one. Can charities ever truly campaign for change without being ideological? Dr. Patterson’s experiences with EveryDoctor reveal a challenge between voicing concerns assertively and maintaining essential relationships. The critical priority lies in ensuring campaigns resonate with genuine concerns while avoiding overt ideological biases.

The future of charitable campaigning

Richard Freeman, CEO of strategic consultancy always possible, always emphasises the importance of “practical bravery and radical collaboration” in navigating the complexities of modern advocacy. Forward-thinking and adaptability become crucial.

As the landscape evolves, charities must not only address current challenges but also anticipate future shifts, ensuring their campaigns remain relevant and focused on the problem they are trying to solve.

Does your organisation feel clear and confident on its position?

The always possible team work with charities as diverse as Age UK, Royal Opera House, Little Green Pig, Together Co and Grassroots Suicide Prevention on strategy, positioning and impact measurement.

Listen to the full podcast conversations between Richard Freeman, Joeli BrearlyJamie Klingler and Dr Julia Patterson on The Possibility Club for even more insights into charity leadership in the 21st century.

The Possibility Club Podcast. Practical Bravery. Richard Freeman meets Joeli Brierly. Defending Motherhood!
The possibility club podcast. 5 big questions. Jamie Klingler on justice, safety and reclaiming these streets
The Possibility Club Podcast. 5 big questions. Dr Julia Grace Patterson on the NHS, the future of healthcare and taking on the government