Calum Kinsella is a campaigner with the London RESULTS Group and writes this blog post from the RESULTS International Conference (14-17 July) in Washington DC, which he has attended for the first time.
The annual RESULTS International Conference isn’t just any old conference. It’s a meeting of minds and the frontline of advocating to end poverty. I joined hundreds of RESULTS advocates from around the world in Washington DC between 14 and17 July for a packed agenda of workshops and talks. It was exciting to reflect and act at a time when great strides have been made on a range of global issues, yet a lot remains to be done. For example, we now have a wonderful opportunity to make unprecedented progress on the eradication of TB with the UN High Level Meeting scheduled for September. This is something that wouldn't have been possible without the tireless efforts of RESULTS advocates from across the world, and in order for strides such as these to be built upon, we now need to hold governments to account.
Alongside this, we’ve had the opportunity to connect with hundreds of grassroots groups from across the world. I’ve found it fascinating to learn about the different ways advocates structure their groups. We had workshops on 'Building Active Networks' and 'How to Build a Movement' which really galvanized me. I realised that most grassroots groups experience similar challenges such as finding a way to recruit and retain new members, but that each and every group is special and made up of people with different backgrounds, experience levels, viewpoints and life circumstances. The thing that bonds us is shared values and that’s where the powerful potential of grassroots activism with RESULTS stems from. The kind of powerful potential that lead former Member of Congress, David Jolly to tell the conference that "RESULTS is the most well-informed and respected activism organisation for international development issues that exists."
The aim of these workshops has been to make the RESULTS grassroots groups as effective and successful as possible. I’ve loved talking to activists who are just starting out on their journey of building a group in their local area and I’ve also spoken with those who were there at the very beginning. It’s given me loads of ideas that will really help to inform my future campaigning with RESULTS such as the importance of building relationships and following up with politicians.
A couple of other points that have stuck with me are that, when recruiting activists, we should emphasise the power RESULTS has and what being a RESULTS activist means when recruiting. The other is taking the time to listen to potential activist’s story to understand their motivations, interests and skills. Doing so will make it easier to gauge what level and kind of ask is suitable to make to that individual. On that point, I should mention that, in true RESULTS style, there’s been a real emphasis on giving first timers and less experienced activists a real sense of responsibility and this is demonstrated very well by the advocacy day on Capitol Hill which I will post about in a separate entry.
In addition to hearing the detailed information on the global issues that RESULTS campaigns on and hearing stories and insight from speakers including Former President of Malawi, Her Excellency Joyce Banda and World Bank Vice President of Human Development, Annette Dixon, it’s been learning about the nuances of grassroots campaigning that stood out for me at this conference.
Look out for my next post in the next few days which will talk more about the advocacy day at Capitol Hill and more about the speakers we heard from at the conference.
Calum has been campaigning with RESULTS London group since March 2017. Since then, he has organized craftivism events, attended several advocacy days, and attended and helped to arrange RESULTS London's appearances at local events. Calum did International Citizen Service (ICS) in 2015 and is now Community & Events Coordinator at Voluntary Service Overseas (VSO).