Campaigning – I Count
By Dr Simon Davey
This article describes how the Stop Climate Chaos coalition used the Internet to launch a successful campaign
The Internet has huge potential to spread messages rapidly and effectively to large numbers of people. It can bring together communities, inspire individuals to action and through collaborative activity, make a difference in the physical world.
I Count is the public facing campaign of Stop Climate Chaos, the coalition of major non-governmental organisations committed to making a difference around climate change. I Count is now the main brand for the work of the organisation.
Initiated by five founder member organisations, the coalition has grown to over 50 (at February 2007), including development, women’s, student organisations and trade unions. The coalition launched in September 2005 and inspired by the success of the Trade Justice campaign, Jubilee 2000 and Make Poverty History - campaigns which genuinely engaged mass numbers of people – I Count was born.
I Count started from the concept that people knew climate change was happening but felt disempowered and didn’t know what to do. The I Count movement is all about inspiring people, encouraging individuals to take action and bring collaborative pressure to bear on decision makers.
The I Count campaign featured a major event on November 4th 2006 – with 25,000 people gathering in Trafalgar Square (a three fold increase on any previous UK demonstration on climate change). The campaign and website had been launched earlier in September that year and backed up by newspaper ads and SMS campaigns.
icount.org.uk is key to changing the tone around climate change – making it more dynamic and fresh, providing inspiration and making ‘turning things off standby’ exciting.
At any one time there are 3 main actions on the I Count website and these are changed monthly. They encompass actions that people can take in their personal lives and may be based on cultural or event themes (e.g. take holidays locally rather than abroad, buy local flowers for Valentines Day) as well as ‘political’ actions such as targeting decision makers (e.g. calling for a UK Climate Bill). Individuals can pledge online which actions they will take, and data is collected by the website. Action reminders are sent by email (and SMS) which stimulates more traffic back to the website. Personalisation is key – every visitor can have a ‘My Actions’ account which tracks and supports their activity.
The difference it makes
I Count dramatically increased the number of attendees at the November demonstration and has helped to build a movement around stopping climate chaos. Communications through email and SMS have been key to this. Through I Count, individuals feel part of something much bigger and empowered to make a difference.
There is no doubt it’s increased the diversity of supporters (and in some cases helped diversify the supporter base of member organisations). The site is still fairly new and I Count are about to review developments but the overall campaign has already attracted over 30,000 subscribers and this increases daily.
New developments planned include linking in with Google maps so supporters can identify other people interested in the issue and make local physical connections. The World Wide Web can be a great tool to make local connections.
How do I make it happen for me?
Lucy Pearce has some words of wisdom for anyone wanted to replicate I Count.
“Be bold, ambitious and adventurous but be clear on your aims, your focus and what you are trying to achieve.”
For more information visit www.icount.org.uk
Published: 3rd May 2007
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