Campaign Planning

Campaign planning is the most important skill for increasing bicycling and yet it is often completely left out of such efforts. So, please look through the below recommendations and give us a call anytime so we can help you learn how to create a complete, powerful campaign plan for increasing bicycling (we love helping with campaign planning!).


Simply remember that a campaign has a beginning, a middle and, most importantly, an end – or shall we say: A victory party! For instance, the legislation is signed, the bike lane is approved, the bicycle ban is removed, etc. This will help you avoid confusing campaigns with programs because you always want a successful program to continue and grow.


As visionaries and high-level experts on increasing bicycling, we are often tempted to start on a campaign that is too complex or even offensive to some people. Make sure your campaign fits these criteria:

  • The proposed solution is easily understood and supported by most people in your target community. Look at some of the common issues displayed on our main Resources page for ideas.
  • Success will mean a measurable increase in bicycling.
  • Many people care about the issue and several people are very passionate about it.
  • The campaign will attract the involvement of people who are important to the long term health of your organization.
  • The campaign will secure beneficial media and promotion for your organization that lasts long after the campaign is finished.


This is the most important step in campaign planning. As humans we prefer to complain. Complaining is the exact opposite of a campaign because it never leads to truly knowing the problem and acting to solve it. As leaders, we must master this process and stop complaining. Here’s how you’ll know you’re making the switch:

  • You’ll know exactly WHICH street or which policy is preventing the increase of bicycling.
  • You’ll know exactly WHAT needs to change in order to remove this barrier to bicycling. This will be your “ask” throughout the campaign.
  • You’ll know HOW this solution will be achieved.
  • You’ll know exactly WHO needs to make this change. This does not mean the agency, this means the exact person, their full name, their title and how to contact them. This also includes knowing the people who can help you deliver this campaign message to this person.
  • You’ll create a powerful CAMPAIGN MESSAGE that includes all of this and which you, your fellow leaders and the public will remember. For instance: The current city bicycle policy discourages bicycling by making bike parking illegal. The Mayor must pass a policy that requires ample bike parking at all prominent locations and encourages secure bike racks throughout the city.


No matter the size of your organization or the size of your campaign, you will need to understand the extent and limits of the resources you will have available to you throughout the campaign. Make sure to look at these as well as other possible resources:

  • People! - List your inside leaders, your most dedicated current helpers, and all the potential helpers you and the others can contact. Note any of these people who might have a direct connection to the official who can make the change. Make sure to include in your list of people anyone who will likely oppose this campaign. Make notes about their likely opposition and how to prepare for this.
  • Your organization – List the strengths and weaknesses of your organization so that your campaign will stay within your abilities. For instance, leaders of government agencies cannot mobilize the public so meetings with decision makers will be a better type of campaign. On the other hand, leaders of NGOs might want to try full mobilization.
  • Money – The funding available to launch your campaign will help to shape its size. But also look at the campaign’s fundraising potential. In fact, well planned and promoted campaigns are one of the best ways to raise money because people love to give money for activities that will have results they will see soon.


Budget for your campaign as comprehensively as you budget for your whole organization.

Income – Make sure to raise funds from diverse sources such as:

  • Donors! – This is the best type of funding because it brings people with it. The most important reminder – You’ve got to ask! Use your Campaign Message.
  • Membership drive – This is different from donors because your ask is much smaller. But if you make increasing membership a major goal of your campaign, the quantity of these small donations will add up. And, again, you get people!
  • Sponsors – business owners love to support great campaigns if they know their business will be associated with the effort. So, make sure to create a complete sponsor program, showing where their logo and business name will appear, before you approach them.
  • Events – Depending on your campaign, you can possibly including a fundraising event as part of the effort to mobilize people.

Expense - Besides direct costs like supplies, make sure to include such costs as:

  • Staff time – not just for the obvious, but also for planning, preparing meetings and events, coordinating volunteers, fundraising, media outreach, managing the campaign, etc.
  • Volunteer time – yes, put a monetary value on this because if these wonderful helpers were not working on the campaign, they could have been raising money for your organization, so this costs the organization. In the U.S., we recommend noting between $10 and $20 per hour depending on the ability of the volunteer.
  • Volunteer costs – you’ve got to keep them happy! So, include food, thank you items, perhaps even a thank you event just for your volunteers. And of course, as noted above, include staff time for volunteer coordination.


The type of campaign you choose will determine the sequence of steps you and your team of leaders take. It is vital that you sketch out all of these steps before you take the first one! This way all of you will see the whole campaign ahead and you will be able to make effective decisions towards success. Here is an example of a sketch of steps for a policy campaign:

Jan. 5 - Planning meeting with our org leaders including budget and fundraising plan for full mobilization if necessary
January - Research current policy and language changes needed
Feb. 1 – Mary circulations draft of exact request, all leaders offer comments
Feb. 7 - 10 – Bill, Linda and Mike meet with their contacts who know the Mayor; Bill schedules meeting with the Mayor.
Feb. 15 – meeting with the Mayor to make request for policy change
Feb. 16 – leaders meeting to determine strategy – if Mayor was supportive, offer help and promotion; if Mayor was against:

  • Send press release with Campaign Message to full media list
  • Post urgent alert to web site and email lists with Campaign Message and an exact action for them to take such as – write a letter to the Mayor, attend a meeting, etc.
  • Launch fundraising plan

March - assess results and request another meeting with the Mayor. If he is still not supportive, launch plan for rally and press conference at City Hall.

Make sure your steps are much more detailed, including more names of people assigned to tasks, and continuing to the likely end, including reserving the place, food and drink for your victory party!


Sometimes a campaign will drag on beyond your expected victory date. Other times your campaign will simply take a few years to complete. In these cases, make sure to create mid-term victories in order to keep your helpers and public energized and excited. These will also offer more media opportunities that can bring new energy to the campaign to push it through its final stretch. Mid-term victories can include:

  • Securing the commitment of an important official – do a press conference so this official can announce their support.
  • Bringing in a new expert or even a celebrity who will help with the final push – again create a media event to present this person with flare and excitement, perhaps a party afterwards for all your helpers.


You should choose one main leader of your campaign to oversee the progress of:

  • People and their assignments
  • Budget – both spending and fundraising – to stay on target (or raise more than expected!)
  • Campaign adjustments – if the official begins to support the campaign it is vital that adjustments are made such as stopping demanding letters!
  • Timeline & helper communication – make sure all steps happen on time and if adjustments are needed that all helpers understand the new plan and timeline.


This is a brief overview but should give you enough to launch a winning campaign. Still, if this is your first campaign, we highly recommend you contact us first. Just call and tell us your campaign message and plan. We’ll be thrilled to offer ideas for making it an absolute winner!

Now, don't get too hung up on all of this planning. Set aside 18 minutes to enjoy this TEDx video with one of the founders of Better Block as he demonstrates their rapid-fire campaigns and successes turning ugly streets into vibrant neighborhoods.