Public support and engagement are a key part of the campaign.
The more public your campaigning is, the more successful we can be in questioning the fossil fuel industry and pushing for climate action.
Involve as many people as you can in the conversation. In addition to actual divestment and potentially reinvestment, the goal of the initiative is to continue to stigmatize the fossil fuel industry and change hearts and minds by:
provoking a respectful, challenging public debate about the great urgency of the climate crisis,
arguing that Catholic organisations should no longer invest in the industry whose products cause climate change,
urging members of your community or organisation to lead by example, reducing their own carbon footprint and investing in a way which is consistent with their values.
Education and discussion are as important as the actual decision being made.
Building support from key organisations and individuals
A petition is a useful way to show public support, as is identifying and showcasing support from key individuals, organisations or groups by asking them to sign the petition, an open letter or give a quote or statement.
University groups have worked to sign up groups of academics and alumni, and local government campaigns have worked with local businesses, unions and other ‘community leaders’.
Diversity, unlikely voices and key constituents can all help build support for your campaign.
Set achievable and aspirational goals. Create a plan that has low-hanging fruit along with a big vision. While every push for a divestment decision has a big-picture goal of divestment, there are other important goals as well. How many divestment conversations can you cultivate? How many educational opportunities can you host, and how often can financial and environmental stewardship be a theme in gatherings or newsletters? How many people can you influence to explore divestment in other organisations with which they affiliate?
Set a timeline. Is there a particular meeting or event three, six, twelve or more months in the future where it would make sense for a divestment decision to be made? If so, plan to work within that time frame. If not, think through how much time you might need to persuade the key decision-makers. Consider how intervening events, holidays or feast days might impact your schedule. For example, summer can be a difficult time to capture people’s attention. Religious observances involving creation care, personal sacrifice or repentance can create an opportunity for discussion on stewardship and divestment.
Communicate. Catholic publications and newsletters need your content! Offer to write for your organisation’s newsletter, blog, and/or other communication outlets. Set up a Facebook page and Twitter account, and update it daily with articles on faith, divestment, and climate change. Provide written resources that can be distributed with materials for Mass or posted on a prominent bulletin board. Be sure to share your stories with Catholic media outlets beyond your local community.
Plan activities. Figure out what opportunities are available within your organisation or community to share about climate change and fossil fuel divestment. You could try to align this with key dates in the Catholic calendar which relate to Earth stewardship and divestment such as Lent, Advent, the Feast of Saint Francis or the Season of Creation. Some event ideas:
When you are holding events, make sure you capture the contact details of everyone you can to help build the campaign. Always have sign-up sheets! And always send a follow up email with a thank you and next steps if you can.
Photographer: LJ Pasion
Working with the media to get your stories and messages out is useful for building public support and persuading decision makers. Local newspapers are often more widely read and trusted than nationals, and local radio or broadcast is gold dust.
Relationships with journalists are important, so keep track of who you’ve spoken to and keep building local lists (get in touch if you want our help to get that list started).
What’s the story? Think about why would a journalist want to cover your news – there’s some good tips on what makes a good story here.
Letters to the editor are another way to get your message out in more detail.
Images are key, and may make it more likely to get your story covered.
If you want a journalist to cover an event, let them know it’s happening beforehand with a ‘media advisory’ or ‘diary note’ (template here) and always follow up with a phone call if you can. Politely check if they’ve got the advisory, and encourage them to come. Make sure to do this for the picture desk too if you want them to take photos.
A press release gets the story over (template here) and should lay out what’s happened (dry, factual), and add the colour and opinion in quotes from you (‘we think it’s very important that..’)
Prepare for interviews by knowing what the main point is that you want to get across and think about what difficult questions they might throw at you. Then lots of practise in the mirror.
Share your media coverage with supporters and the network.
Building your social media and online presence
Social media like Facebook and Twitter are a great way to get the message out.
Connect with the movement, and link up with others (groups, organisations and individuals) in your area.