Our overarching goal is to increase the number of candidates elected in 2024 who support these civil society causes, and to support and empower a unified, interconnected movement across Europe in putting consistent pressure on election candidates to sign pledges in support of a variety of issues.
We will do that by identifying and supporting existing NGO coalitions that already plan or consider running a “pledge campaign”. This project isn’t to get the partners sharing and campaigning on common demand, but we will focus on providing them the best tools to run their campaigns, facilitate coordination and information sharing and support them in getting their supporters to directly contact candidates for their specific political demands.
These actions can only be successful if there is active cooperation and co-creation among partners. Alliance4Europe has extensive experience convening, coordinating, and supporting civil society coalitions for impact, and we will build on those networks and experiences in this work here for long-term sustainability.
Set the tone for the new European Parliament: Ensure that all elected candidates are aware that their constituents, organised or represented by NGOs, care about what they represent and how they vote, and will actively engage with them throughout their entire term of office for the next five years.
Engage Citizens: Encourage European citizens to engage with campaigns by offering them meaningful opportunities to take actions during the campaign period, being engaged voters, and to impact the electoral results. In the long term, this involvement will deepen citizens' sense of ownership and participation in the democratic process at the European level, connecting with the national and local levels.
Build the collaboration muscle: By working together, CSO coalitions can collectively create more pressure than what they could do individually. Our work will support equally large, well-resourced pan-European CSOs, and small, local or national organisations with less access to resources, but that are no less important to driving change at all levels. This community building should be sustainable and long-lasting. The assets, resources, networks, and community we develop during the European Elections 2024 should then be leveraged, developed and deployed further in advocacy and further similar election campaigning in the long-run.
The project has 5 connected components:
The shared collaborative database of election candidates
People power tools for citizens to ask candidates to sign a pledge on a specific issue
Interaction with candidates: they can engage with pledges and share their feedback
Get Out The Vote: coalition members commit to encourage their supporters to vote
Post-election database of elected MEPs, and all the pledges they signed
At the moment a shared and organised platform or system for NGOs to collaborate on creating a shared, crowdsourced database of all candidates in the 2024 European elections simply doesn’t exist. That said, the need for such a tool, and the readiness to engage with others to collaboratively source and co-create its content, has already been expressed by multiple organisations working at the European level. There's a great appetite for this work in the movement.
As mentioned above, previous experiences have taught us that unless a collaborative tool and process is set in place early on, before the actual election campaigns launch, we’re risking having to deal with obstacles such as duplicated efforts, potential to overlook some candidates, inefficient use of limited resources of the movement.
That’s why the first and most important component of our project is a comprehensive, crowdsourced, shared candidate database, which will improve collaboration, effectiveness, and will help maximise the impact of both collective and individual campaigns.
To make this happen, we will develop a tool that supports NGOs in collaborative editing and data entry of candidates and their contact details. This tool will enable us to gather information on candidate party affiliations, candidate list publication timelines, election processes in different constituencies, and polling data. Additionally, we will import automatically data collection by scraping relevant publicly available web pages or wikidata, so campaigners can focus on quality control and identify the best sources to use.
When developed, the candidate database will serve as a valuable resource to NGOs across Europe, allowing them to interact with candidates to secure their support to their causes, as well as engaging the organisation’s supporters, followers and members in campaigning for a better, more forward-looking European Parliament.
The key condition to successfully implementing this core part of the project is a dedicated coordinator and project manager. The role-holder would not only support the collection and input of candidate data, but would also take on the training and onboarding of new organisations joining the coalition. They would oversee the project budget to ensure efficient resource use, they would be in charge of putting in place workflows and processes, lead on stakeholder engagement, coordinate quality control, and overall ensure effective project management.
Coordinated European mapping of candidates enables national and local campaigns to be more effective by targeting a broader range of candidates and saving on time and resources.
At Fix the Status Quo, we have developed a state-of-the-art distributed campaigning tool that follows a key principle: true distribution. Each partner organisation in a campaign receives their own widget, which they can embed on their own website. The tool collects supporters' contact details (with GDPR compliance) exclusively for each partner - there’s no complicated data sharing, but organisations working in coalitions reap all the benefits of collaboration.
For example, during the successful Restore Nature campaign powered by Proca, more than 80 organisations worked together, engaging over a million supporters. Each partner displayed the total number of supporters on their counter without worrying about sharing contact details with others. Working together, but growing their own organisation. If successful, our technology is invisible and supporters or candidates are interacting transparently on each partner’s website.
The 2024 election to the EP will be an important moment for organisations to make the best possible use of online and digital engagement and advocacy tools, in order to add pressure on election candidates, encourage people to vote and support these causes. We expect the widespread demand for simple to use, intuitive, tried and tested tactics such as email-to-target, tweet-to-target, petition, phone calls etc.
Many of these online campaigning tools already exist in our online toolkit called Proca. As part of the scope of this project, we will further develop specific features, in particular flexibility, ability to collect campaign target feedback, and seamless integration with the candidate database mentioned above.
What’s unique about Proca and what we intend to perfect as part of the election campaign is that it’s built for flexibility and collaboration.
Each coalition can pick and choose what tactics best support their campaign, one might want to focus on twitter, the other sending emails and a third do both. One might want pre-written messages, the other let the supporters write it. One might want to engage with all candidates, the other focuses on a subset only. One might choose to let many organisations joining as partners, the other focus on an existing network.
Within each coalition, organisations joining this project will be able to make the online tools work best for their needs. They can customise their widgets, including colour, language, and GDPR workflow - we support equally strict double opt-in via email, and simpler collection of explicit consent on the online form.
But the most important aspect of this component is that our tool connects directly to the candidate database. There’s no need for complicated custom targeting to be added to the backend of partners’ action tools - it’s already connected to Proca, and continuously updated with the most relevant information. When a new contact information is available for one of the candidates, e.g. because they took action on one of the pledges sent to them by coalition members or their supporters, this information will automatically sync with the database, making these new contact details available to all other campaigns. This means that all partners can trust that when they call their supporters to action, the targeting and the target contact details are taken care of.
For long-term sustainability and capacity building, it is crucial to be able to share analysis and data, and develop integrated mailing lists across mutually supportive campaigns. This interconnected approach enables long-term impact, building up civil society power and capacity.
In our experience, the best campaigns are like conversations between citizens and potential decision-makers. This is why this next critical component of the project involves ways for the campaign target - here, the election candidate - to respond, take action, and offer their statement of support or other feedback.
During elections, constituents (as mentioned in the "people power" section) will ask candidates to sign pledges to support various crucial issues. This is a great opportunity because candidates are more likely to make promises and take a stand on these issues during election campaigns, when they’re actively wooing potential voters.
When candidates receive a request to pledge on a specific campaign issue, they will have two options. They can sign the pledge, and optionally add a statement supporting the cause or share their motivation; or they can inform the coalition partner that they're not interested in taking that pledge.
To manage the influx of emails and messages requesting pledges, candidates will also be able to opt for a “digest mode”. Instead of receiving individual emails from each supporter, they can receive daily digests summarising the requests they have received (for example, "X number of constituents asked you to sign"). This ability to interact with the target is a great innovation which allows for a more fruitful and less frustrating flow of information.
To encourage their engagement, we will provide candidates with digital “badges”, such as "I pledged /I signed," which they can display on their websites or social media profiles. These badges demonstrate their support for causes on which they took a pledge, like animal rights, LGBTQ+ rights, climate action, and more.
We will also display the candidate's signed pledge on the campaign website. Candidates can include a personal statement if they choose to do so, which we could also share on the website, or facilitate semi-automatic social media posts by coalition members. Partner NGOs will be notified and provided with information to share the news on their social media channels, showing the growing support among the candidates to their specific cause.
Our tool will have established a validation workflow to confirm the identity and contact details of the candidate signing the pledge (or otherwise responding when prompted).
Another feature developed specifically for the candidates is to allow them to adjust how they receive supporters engagement. By default, we send the citizen messages directly to them, but they can opt-in for a digest (either because they signed the pledge or asked for it). We developed that digest for #restorenature and deliver highly customised weekly emails (summarising how many citizen supporters contacted them and the general project, and a selection of the citizen messages and pictures).
Supporting Get Out the Vote (GOTV) efforts and increasing the engagement of European citizens in the European Parliament elections are essential components of our work and prerequisites of partner participation in this project. It's not enough to have candidates who sign nicely worded pledges; we also need people to vote for them.
Each coalition partner will commit to sending a reminder to all the supporters who have taken action and contacted the MEP candidates to sign election pledges. These reminders will encourage the citizens to go out and vote come election day. The emails could also include suggestions on who to vote for, such as providing a link to a leaderboard or list of candidates who have signed the pledge for that specific issue. The choice of if and how to display that information will be up to the specific coalition partner.
We will make it easy for NGOs to meet their commitments, by offering them the option to automatically integrate the information about action takers among their supporter base back into their own CRM (Customer Relationship Management system). This integration makes it easier for them to contact the action takers specifically, or to target their suggestions to people e.g. in a particular voting area. Alternatively, Fix The Status Quo can send the GOTV email to an organisation’s supporters on their behalf, ensuring seamless communication thanks to our integration with the candidate database.
After the election, we will work with the database, the publicly available information about the results of the elections, and with coalition partners to provide specific valuable information, being able to consolidate and levrage shared assets for further campaigning, advocacy and impact.. The objective of this component of the project is to improve engagement with elected MEPs, transparency, and accountability of newly elected decision-makers to their promises.
We will create a dashboard that shows which new, incoming MEPs, elected among all the candidates, have signed the pledges, and which issues they pledged on. This information will be displayed on the campaign website, making it easy for supporters and coalition members to access and take action. This component of our work will be particularly useful when the newly established European Parliament starts work, and MEPs are faced with votes related to topics they signed election pledges on. Our information about what they committed to will give powerful campaigning ammunition to European NGOs, who will be able to hold these new MEPs accountable to their promises.
In addition to that mapping, we will also share details with coalition NGOs about the MEPs' committee memberships in the European Parliament (EP) and other important relevant information. This helps coalition members understand the MEPs' areas of focus and expertise, enabling them to engage more effectively. We’ll also integrate the information about each signed pledge by MEPs into platforms like tttp.eu (list of MEPs) and mepwatch.eu (list of all roll calls). This integration enhances transparency and accountability for MEPs' actions.
Finally, we’ll provide coalition NGOs with an internal-audience focused overview, such as a scoreboard or intelligence report, containing insights into which MEPs have signed specific pledges, allowing NGOs to track progress and evaluate their advocacy efforts.
Through these actions, we’ll promote transparency, provide useful information, and empower coalition NGOs to effectively engage with MEPs based on their pledge commitments and roles in the EP.