Working with others is often a great way of winning your campaign. Starting a “partnership” or “joining forces” with another group will go more smoothly if you agree some critical things. Writing down what you agree helps other people see what has been agreed, and also helps you to be sure you are working well together.
Common ground: what do you care about? what change do you want to see?
It’s amazing how much difference there can be between groups campaigning on the same issue. Working with other groups is often essential for success, but if you are going to work together with others, it is important you work out if you have enough “common ground”.
For example: two groups might both be campaigning to get a change in the law to help young people who are self harming. Some might want websites which encourage young people to harm themselves to be banned, whereas another group might be more concerned with getting education about self harm in schools. In this example the groups could maybe work together to raise awareness of the problem of self harm, but their campaign is about two very different wins and it’s probably going to be very difficult for these groups to work together consistently.
What do you bring to the table?
It’s good to share what skills, resources, connections, experience and plans each of the groups has.
Once you know what each group can offer, you can make commitments to each other about what jobs and roles each team will be working on.
What are your red lines?
Some groups will be working towards the same aim but care very strongly about how it is done.
For example some people will not want to work with authorities, some people will not want to talk at all about personal experience, some people will not compromise on certain outcomes no matter what.
Set out your expectations: How will you speak about each other, do the work together, and what will be your red lines?
Who will take the credit?
Does it matter who gets the credit for a win?
If you can discuss honestly what really matters to you in terms of who is seen as the organisers and leaders, then you will more likely to stay strong and undivided even in the face of challenges.
Does it matter who gets the credit if the change happens?
How will you sort out things that go wrong? In campaigns things sometimes change fast, and many people are involved. If something is going wrong or a group you are working with disagrees with how something has been done, would that be the end?
If you plan ahead for how you will deal with conflict you can avoid the whole action falling apart.
How will you resolve conflict?
Teaching and Sharing
Each group can teach the other based on their experience and knowledge.
Each group can share their resources so both teams can do better in the campaign.
If one group is more established and has a positive reputation they might also be willing to share their name.
Write down everything that has been agreed between different groups down on paper and get everyone to re-read it and sign. Though it seems formal, it helps all groups and people to know and remember what has been said.
It’s so very easy to forget, or for people to have a different understanding of what was said - having a written shared agreement keeps things as simple as possible