Power of community

Our research to understand what points of intervention create of campaign champions.

We often find that people who are directly affected by an issue become the most effective and committed campaigners, even if they have never campaigned before.

Last year we interviewed over 45 women  campaign leaders from across India. We found that those who had developed a sense of belief in their community, and who regularly reflected on their growth, were more likely to build and sustain impactful campaigns.

‘Belief in their community’ has been suggested before as a key factor in psychological models of empowerment. Whereas self efficacy describes your belief in your own ability to accomplish a goal, collective efficacy is a group’s shared belief in its collective capabilities to organise and execute to achieve a goal.

When we interviewed women campaigner leaders in India, it became apparent that a person’s self efficacy was not as important as their collective efficacy. Many campaigner leaders had strong belief in their own abilities, but without seeing the supporters of their campaign as a community that they believed could work together to win, their confidence often didn’t lead to outcomes.

Campaigner leaders who had belief in people power, combined with a tendency to reflect and learn, were more likely to research their campaign, create an effective strategy and eventually become a spokesperson on the issue.

From these interviews, we have developed a ‘Champion Index’, which is designed to understand what key points of intervention are most likely to support the creation of champion campaign leaders. We discovered that most ‘champions’ demonstrate five key characteristics, which can be developed with coaching and the growth of a successful campaign. These can then be used to identify the most appropriate support for throughout a person’s campaign journey.

By looking for correlations between scores in champion areas and outcomes in leadership, we have developed a model for how people become campaign ‘champions’:

  1. ‘Belief in Community Power’ and ‘Reflects and Learns’ are the most important attributes for a champion to have. Without these, other attributes of the Champions Score do not progress.
  2. These drive champions to ‘Gain Expertise’ in their issue area and create a multi-pronged, step-by-step ‘Strategy’ collaboratively with others in their community.
  3. Once they have a clear strategy, they can ‘Talk Publicly’ about their campaign and work with others to ‘Build a Movement’.

While these are preliminary findings, they correlate strongly to external research about the power of community in sustaining and mobilizing campaign leaders. Going forward with this research, we aim to create more opportunities for network and community building which will inspire and strengthen a new generation of champions.

We are starting by convening 5-day residential trainings for women campaign leaders in India, with a focus on community building, shared experiences and networks of support. Click here for more information about the She Creates Change Learning Lab that took place in November 2017.


By Danny Hutley, Learning and Impact Advisor