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European Citizens´ Initiative Forum

Mastering the Art of Budgeting: the key to success with your European citizens' initiative campaign

Updated on: 27/11/2023

Make sure you allocate sufficient funds for each phase of your campaign, including for post-collection advocacy; plan most of the available resources for your communications campaign, pivoting on social media;  and mobilise strong human resources – these were the top tips for success shared by European citizens’ initiative organisers at an October 2023 Forum webinar dedicated to funding ECI campaigns, moderated by Daniela Vancic, European Programme Manager at Democracy International.

Check out the Online Course of the European Citizens’ Initiative Forum, where Daniela leads the module on successful campaigning. 

Olga Kikou, from the ECI 'End the Cage Age,' emphasized the significance of preparatory work for budgeting strategies. This crucial phase involves securing funding and support from key groups involved in your issue before initiating an ECI. She pointed out that adequate preparation sets the foundation for a successful campaign. Therefore, she advised tailoring the budget to align with three distinct phases of the campaign: the preparatory stage, active signature collection stage, and follow-up stage during which funds are the most needed. 

André Menache, one of the representatives behind 'Stop Vivisection' ECI, highlighted the impact of communication campaigns on the number of collected signatures. His experience demonstrated that effective and visible communication campaigns with a high impact can be the driving force behind the significant number of collected signatures.

Nils Kluger, from 'Stop Finning' ECI highlighted the significant impact of collecting numerous small donations, which can accumulate into significant amounts that make a difference. In his view, the largest portion of the budget should be allocated to the promotion and social media campaign. He also stated that developing various communication strategies is essential to secure citizens' support. He also stressed the importance of addressing problems without relying solely on financial resources – such as human resources and building up a network of volunteers. 

Read Anatomy of a miracle: how the last 20 days of the Stop Finning EU campaign became a gamechanger – ECI Forum blog post 

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Optimising Returns on Investment

Olga Kikou emphasized the significance of social media and communication campaigns. In today's digitally connected world, harnessing the power of social media for outreach and engagement can be a game-changer. It allows direct communication with a global audience, raising awareness and collecting signatures more effectively. André Menache shared his experience of a successful communications campaign on Italian TV. Television, when strategically employed, can reach a broad and diverse audience, significantly boosting the visibility and impact of an ECI. Nils Kluger emphasized the value of investing in quality content for social media and communication. Creating compelling content that resonates with the audience and consistently setting campaign milestones creates a sense of urgency, encouraging supporters to take action.

Allocating Funds with a Limited Budget

For ECI campaigns with limited budgets, the organizers provided valuable suggestions on the most urgent categories to fund. Nils Kluger suggested investing in creating a strategy to guide future actions by hiring a campaign manager to lead the efforts effectively, ensuring that resources are utilized optimally. André Menache pointed out the importance of collaboration with other organisations to gain visibility. Building partnerships with like-minded groups and organisations can amplify the reach of the campaign and attract new supporters and volunteers.

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Opportunities with Additional Funding

When asked how they would have used more funds with the benefit of hindsight, the organizers shared their thoughts. 

Olga Kikou explained that her group would have invested in the post-collection advocacy phase. Maintaining engagement and reminding people about the ECI's objectives post-signature collection can be crucial in achieving the desired impact. André Menache advocated for a national campaign parallel to the ECI, focusing on achieving both political and campaign success simultaneously. A multi-faceted approach can create a stronger impact on the issue at hand. Finally, Nils Kluger emphasized the challenge of staying in everyone's mind during the campaign. Additional funds could have been used to maintain visibility and keep the campaign fresh in people's minds.

Whether working with limited resources or contemplating the efficient use of additional funding, the emphasis on digital outreach, strategic planning, collaboration, and post-campaign engagement are key takeaways for anyone embarking on the ECI journey. These insights provide a roadmap for effective budgeting and ensuring that every Euro spent contributes to the success of the initiative.

The final segment of the webinar featured Savannah Schuurbiers from ECAS, who offered insights on fund reporting, with a focus on funds exceeding 500 EUR. She stressed the importance of transparent and accountable reporting, which will ensure the integrity of ECI campaigns.


Watch the entire webinar here!

Webinar - How to Budget Your ECI

Read also:

How to raise funds – ECI Forum webpage

How to raise funds for your European citizens’ initiative campaign: Tips from successful organisers and fundraisers – ECI Forum blog post 

Follow the money: how do European citizens’ initiatives raise funds and what are the rules on financial reporting? – ECI Forum blog post 

EU citizens call for an end to cages for animals – ECI Forum Blog post 

End the Cage Age ECI webpage 

Stop Finning ECI webpage 



Mélina Garnier

Mélina Garnier is a European Programme Intern at Democracy International, an NGO that promotes stronger citizens’ participation in political decision making, with experience in the European Citizens’ Initiative since the tool’s inception. She completed her Bachelor’s degree at Sciences Po in Paris in June 2023, majoring in political science and government with a specific focus on the European sphere and the Franco-German partnership.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed on the ECI Forum reflect solely the point of view of their authors and can in no way be taken to reflect the position of the European Commission or of the European Union.
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