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European Citizens´ Initiative Forum

Unlocking Success: Essential Tips for Every European Citizens’ Initiative Campaign

Updated on: 18/03/2024

Running a successful European Citizens' Initiative (ECI) campaign requires a strategic approach and effective execution across various domains. From communications and fundraising to community-building and networking, several key factors must be considered. But how do you manage these complexities in a multilingual, transnational and yearlong-plus campaign? 

Of course, campaigning for your idea on a transnational scale and running a well-coordinated initiative is no small feat. It requires strategic finesse, adaptability, and maintenance. But fear not! Here are insights and practical tips taken directly from ECI experts and campaigners themselves, shared during an online World Café event that Democracy International organised on behalf of the ECI Forum on 29 January 2024, and where essential success factors for an ECI were discussed.

Strategic Communications

Let's begin by addressing communication strategies. It's important to understand that there isn't a one-size-fits-all approach to communication in ECIs. As effective communication lies at the heart of a successful ECI campaign, it becomes imperative to tailor messages across diverse audiences. Factors such as the campaign's topic, available resources, and target demographics must shape your strategy. 

Helmut Burtscher, from the ‘Save the Bees’ ECI, emphasises the need for the ECI teams to first leverage available networks and communication tools. Besides, forging partnerships with like-minded entities and utilising diverse communication channels, including social media and newsletters helps to amplify the message and gain public support. Keep in mind that clarity and consistency are key in conveying your message effectively. Therefore, it is imperative to craft messages with a description, function, and structure.

Orange and Blue background with multiple gears and two women speaking to each other

Fundraising Finesse

Embarking on an ECI journey entails mastering the essentials of fundraising. Securing funds and, thereby, resources is crucial for driving the success of your ECI campaign. It requires meticulous planning and strategic partnerships. Consulting funding sources of successful ECIs could be a good start. Anne Hardt, a fundraiser at Democracy International and fundraising expert for the ECI Forum (see our Seek Advice Section), underscores diversifying the funding sources. Funds could be mobilised from civil society organisations (CSOs), corporate entities, and grassroots or small donors. Including local partners helps to build trust as they have existing relationships with local NGOs and the local people. In addition, take advantage of in-kind donations such as volunteers and cost-free advertisement of your ECI in partners’ newsletters or social media. Finally, provide various donation options or QR codes with a fundraising page on all your campaign materials.

Planning and securing enough funds for every phase of the campaign, whether the preparatory, active signature collection or advocacy phase (which is most likely under-budgeted), fuels the journey towards ECI success. Securing funds before the European Commission accepts the registration of your initiative would ensure a solid financial foundation for your yearlong-plus campaign. And don’t forget donations above 500 EUR need to be reported to the Commission. Contributions above 500 EUR will be published on your initiative page in the official ECI register, so choose your allies wisely. 

How do you cultivate collaborative networks? 

Building a strong network of supporters and stakeholders is essential for driving momentum behind your ECI. Therefore, forging partnerships with civil society organisations and NGOs remains key. Aside from this, establishing clear agreements for support and collaboration with partners ensures a unified approach towards increasing the number of signatures collected.

In the digital era, maintaining continuous engagement with your community is paramount. This can be done by setting country-specific milestones or producing language-specific materials, nurturing relationships, continuous information flow and active engagement to strengthen the foundation of your ECI. Olga Kikou, of the 'End the Cage Age' initiative, presented positive and effective examples of working with celebrities and politicians to gain their support and visibility. Contact information of Members of European Parliament, for example, can easily be found on the European Parliament’s website. Celebrities could especially be mobilised for awareness creation on social media.

As you embark on your ECI journey, remember that success is dynamic and multifaceted. However, success hinges on strategic planning, effective communication, and community mobilisation. Getting support and expert advice from digital platforms like the ECI Forum would help overcome the complexities of campaigning, drive positive change, and shape the future of your campaign. 

These insights could serve as a roadmap for campaigners and organisers, guiding you towards a more engaged and participatory Europe. 


Author of Blog Post - Felicia Mabel Frempong


Felicia Mabel Frempong

Felicia Mabel Frempong is a European Programme Intern at Democracy International, an NGO dedicated to enhancing citizens' involvement in political decision-making processes. With a good understanding of the European Citizens' Initiative, Felicia brings valuable expertise to the discussion. Currently in her final year in Master of Development Studies, with a specialization in international economics at the University of Bayreuth, she is poised to contribute significantly to the field of civic engagement and international development.

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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.