by Bart Worden, AEU Executive Director
At the 2017 AEU Skills Summit, one of the workshops we offered was “Developing Ethical Action Campaigns” for Ethical Societies. Ethical Action campaigns are important avenues for Ethical Societies to live their mission, connect with a larger community, and deepen members’ engagement with important life issues. As congregations organized around the belief that deed is more important than creed, that what we do to care for others and to press for a more just and equitable world is of prime importance, ethical action is a core activity that deserves considerable attention.
Ethical Action is also good for Ethical Societies. Societies with strong service components are likely to have a good reputation in the community, can raise the appeal of the group on the part of prospective members, and can energize existing membership. Doing so, however, also takes time and energy as mounting a successful ethical action campaign requires planning and forethought as well as ongoing management.
And it’s important to match the Ethical Action campaign with the needs, interests, and resources of the congregation. Starting with concerns that resonate powerfully with Society members, choosing actions that fit the size and skills of the group, and recruiting people to work on the campaign will go a long way toward helping your Society’s campaigns be successful.
In the workshop, we focused on three elements that can help move from a strong concern to concerted action:
Audience – Who are you looking to reach with your Ethical Action campaign? Are you looking to provide direct assistance to people in need? Looking to press people in places of influence to enact more just policies? Are you looking to connect with other organizations as potential partners? Are you hoping to join another organization’s campaign?
Activities – What are you equipped to do? What resources do you have on hand that can be applied to the campaign? Do you have a building that can be used for meetings? Do you have a popular activity (e.g., documentary film night, musical performance venue, theater performance…) that can be utilized to address the concerns your Ethical Action campaign is focusing on?
Personnel – Do you have a team of people ready knuckle down and work? Do you have one or two passionate people who are working to recruit others? Do you have an emissary or two (or three) who would represent your Society with another organization’s planning group? Remember the adage, “if you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.”
Matching these three elements with your Society’s interests and resources can help your group mount an effective and sustainable campaign that will benefit the larger community and provide avenues for bringing more caring and fairness into the world.