About Common Cause

Common Cause is a network of people working to help rebalance cultural values to create a more equitable, sustainable and democratic society.

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What Common Cause believes

  1. We are all shaped by our culture. Culture is a key influence in shaping our view of the world and our sense of responsibilities within it. The way in which we respond, both as individuals and collectively, to the most pressing problems that we face – climate change, poverty, inequality, biodiversity loss – is shaped in a critically important way by our culture.
  2. Collectively, we have the power to shape the culture that shapes us. But this power to shape culture is unevenly distributed and is often wielded by small groups with disproportionate financial, social or political power.
  3. The uneven power dynamics within society are seldom the subject of public scrutiny and debate, with such debate sometimes actively suppressed. This leaves these small groups free to exert overwhelming cultural influences that often promote values which are actively detrimental to solving the most pressing problems of our age.
  4. Such lack of debate prevents us from truly functioning democratically and responding more meaningfully and effectively to the challenges that we face. We need to openly examine the influences exerted on our culture, and therefore our values, and create processes and spaces for questioning and changing these influences.
  5. It is central to human flourishing in a truly participatory democracy that we each engage actively in such debate: to cede this responsibility to others is to diminish one’s full and proper participation in society.

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What Common Cause is doing

  1. Fostering an understanding of the importance of our values in shaping society’s responses to pressing social and environmental issues.
  2. Creating processes and spaces where groups can openly examine the relationship between our values and our collective responses to the pressing problems that we face.
  3. Empowering people to influence the cultural values of the activities – projects, campaigns, classrooms, work places, gatherings – in which they are involved.
  4. Encouraging people to contribute to wider transformational, durable and systemic cultural change by being open about what they are doing, the values that motivate them, and encouraging others to do the same.

Common Cause does this by:

  • Raising awareness through research, publications and events
  • Applying relevant research
  • Creating learning opportunities to build capacity
  • Supporting a community of practice
  • Encouraging innovation in leadership and practice
  • Building alliances across diverse organisations

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How Common Cause Works

We strive to embody the values we seek to strengthen in society.

To this end:

  • We work collaboratively.
  • We celebrate creativity and self-direction.
  • We are open to new contributions and challenges to our thinking.
  • We aim for a sense of community, openness and authenticity.
  • We learn from both our successes and our failures.
  • We work for benefit beyond self, not for profit.

We have a three-part structure, consisting of a Core Team, Learning Facilitators, and a Common Cause Community.

Core Team

The Core Team are a group of committed individuals who give their time to organising and managing work on Common Cause and fundraise to support this work. The Core Team:

  • Works to stimulate new thinking by publishing research and writing
  • Demonstrates the practical relevance and application of Common Cause
  • Works with the Learning Facilitators to organise workshops, events, coaching and training to disseminate the evidence behind Common Cause, build capacity and foster practice
  • Administers and supports the Common Cause Community
  • Provides support for collaborative action and campaigns – though does not itself campaign

Anyone with the interest and commitment to support the work of Common Cause is welcome to join the Core Team. If you are interested please get in touch at: info@valuesandframes.org

Learning Facilitators

Common Cause Learning Facilitators are a group of individuals with a wide range of expertise and experience in convening, facilitating, training, coaching and mentoring. They work with the Core Team by contributing to the design and delivery of Common Cause workshops, events, project and materials. They also help drive innovation and bring new ideas and approaches to Common Cause and the ways it supports the Common Cause Community.

If you have expertise in these areas and are interested in becoming a Learning Facilitator, please get in touch with the Core Team: info@valuesandframes.org

Cause Cause Community

The Core Team are working to build a Common Cause Community to support individuals and organisations who are interested in Common Cause and who are working to put its insights into practice. Members of this Community will:

  • Receive the latest information and research that relates to Common Cause
  • Hear about Common Cause or related workshops, events and projects
  • Have opportunities to meet, share and learn from other members of the Common Cause Community

Membership of the Common Cause Community is open to anyone who is interested in Common Cause. Joining the Common Cause Community simply involves signing up to the mailing list using the form above. We will then start sending you the Common Cause monthly Newsletter and make sure you receive invitations to Common Cause events and gatherings of the Community. If you have information, research or practice you would like to share with the community please email it to: info@valuesandframes.org.
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How Common Cause is funded

Staff time is currently paid by Oxfam, PIRC, and WWF-UK.

Additional project costs are also provided by these organisations, as follows:

  • Our action learning process for campaigners (with a total budget of £21,000) is paid for jointly by WWF-UK and Oxfam.
  • WWF-UK and PIRC are currently jointly funding a communications and engagement programme (running over the period May 2012- December 2012, with a budget of £47,000).
  • We have recently embarked upon an analysis of the entire communications output of a group of a dozen or more UK conservation organisations. The costs of this are being met by the participating organisations, with contributions being adjusted to reflect income (the current total budget is £47,750).

Wherever possible our workshops are delivered for free.

In some cases we charge for delivering a workshop, or recipient organisations make a donation to Common Cause. We also receive occasional payment for speaking engagements, and fees for publications.

These small additional income streams are received by Oxfam, PIRC, and WWF-UK and augment our core funding. They did not exceed £2,500 in the year April 2011-April 2012.

We are committed to transparency in our funding, and this page will be updated regularly.
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Where Common Cause came from

In 2009, the chief executives and a few staff from a handful of UK non-governmental organisations came together to discuss the inadequacy of current responses to challenges like climate change, global poverty and biodiversity loss. We invited a few academics (including Professors George Lakoff and Tim Kasser) to join us in this conversation, via telepresence. How, we asked themselves, might greater public demand for proportional responses to such global challenges be brought to bear on political and business leaders?

In reflecting on this question, we drew on recent research in cognitive science and social psychology. Much of the current debate, especially as this relates to environmental issues, focuses on approaches to motivating specific behaviours (driving less, or voting more, for example). But pressing social and environmental challenges seem unlikely to be met by picking off behaviours one-by-one. From outset, we were convinced that these challenges would require a more concerted approach.

Many of the organisations represented at our initial meeting came together to support the publication, a year later, of Common Cause: The Case for Working with our Cultural Values. Early on in drafting this report, we recognised that the types of challenge we were examining – and the responses that we were highlighting – were applicable to a very wide range of third sector concerns. We saw that this raised the possibility of working with a diversity of organisations to develop this agenda further.

The debate that Common Cause catalysed has grown rapidly. We have held workshops for several hundred people and other related reports have been published (for example, Finding Frames: New Ways to Engage the UK Public in Global Poverty). A great number of individuals and organisations have since stepped forward to take ownership of some part of this discussion and help drive it forward. You’ll find outlines and contact details for a number of these related initiatives on this website.

Most recently, this work has culminated in the publication of The Common Cause Handbook. This represents the outcome of many weeks’ work by PIRC, who not only ensured that they became experts on the social psychology and cognitive science, but who also conducted a great number of workshops: road-testing the ideas that they had for presenting this material in a compelling and accessible way.

Enjoy exploring our site, and please do get in touch if there is anything you want to add, or contest, or if you can see ways in which you would like to help further extend the conversation that we have started!
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