Running a race with one hand tied behind your back reduces your chances of winning. Similarly, running a campaign that only appeals to a fraction of the country will take you longer to succeed. But environmental campaigning in the UK is hampered in its effectiveness because campaigning organisations are not embracing the full diversity of the UK population.
We believe our current food system is broken, causing not just environmental damage, but epidemics in obesity and diabetes, poverty amongst food and farm workers, and the mistreatment of animals. Last year the Food Ethics Council was commissioned by a group of funders to conduct a census of CSOs in order to develop a picture of the voluntary sector on food, farming and fishing in the UK. The census indicates that the challenges faced by the food system are getting worse. And despite the best efforts of CSOs, the sector’s response is not commensurate with the scale and urgency of the challenges.
It troubles me when I hear grant-making colleagues comment that the worst applications they receive are from environmental NGOs. So I thought I’d suggest some tips – Raven’s Rules for Relevant Writing, if you will. I hope you find them useful.
As NGOs, we must frame the environmental challenges of today in such a way that builds coalitions and provides a catalyst for meaningful dialogue and change. A hallmark of success will be the very ability to unify the seemingly disparate causes which affect the grand sum of our environmental condition. Here I am talking about poverty, migration, women’s rights, education, and family planning to name a few.