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  • Writer's pictureMatt Oliver

Thursday Thought: Busting campaign siloes

Updated: Sep 28, 2023

(Almost) every Thursday, we post a brief blog thinking about aspects of campaigning. We’ll keep them short and snappy so you can read them in that awkward gap between meetings or while you’re waiting for your coffee to brew.


As campaigners working on neglected diseases, it can often feel frustrating when we see campaigners working on other, related issues fail to involve us in their work. Why don’t they care about this clearly important thing? Why are they ignoring this intersection, when including it in their work could make an enormous difference to our campaign?

The funny thing is that there’s usually someone else thinking the exact same thing about us.

I’ve been trying to remind myself that no campaigner is short of things to do. That overwhelming to-do list is one of the biggest culprits when it comes to siloed campaigning. We focus on the things that we think will deliver the greatest impact, quickly – usually something super targeted. We struggle to keep track of emails and newsletters, even from colleagues working on the same issue. We can’t to find the time to think creatively and collaboratively within our own sector, let alone with others.

Where issues intersect, it’s usually both campaigns that could ask why the other isn’t echoing recommendations or joining actions. Sure, there might be a therapeutic value in expressing your frustrations, but complaining isn’t going to change the status quo – in fact, it might undermine efforts to build relationships with colleagues outside our silo.

Turning to the most basic principles of campaigning is far more fruitful. The Kingdon Theory holds that for policy change to happen, you need a practical solution for a politically salient problem and enough political will to implement it. So, if we want another campaign to prioritise a joint issue above the long list of other things on their to do list, we need to find a problem that is as salient to them as it is for us and a solution that would resolve it well for both our issues. And we need to convince the right campaign leaders of that fact. To do that, we need to engage genuinely and in good faith.

So let’s be a little bit kinder to our colleagues running other, also very important campaigns. They are in a different but fundamentally similar boat. Complaining about how they’re not pulling us along isn’t going to cut it – instead, let’s try to row towards each other and see where we really can help each other out.

Our Ready Next Time report is an attempt at doing exactly that – identifying the issues where a collaborative effort by campaigners on TB and pandemic preparedness could deliver genuine mutual benefit. You can read it here.


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