The Tanítanék Movement was launched in 2016 as a result of an open letter on the crisis in public education published by the board of the Herman Ottó High School in Miskolc, Hungary. Since then, teachers from many other schools have joined us. We are trying to bring about change by organising mass events, industrial action and producing professional materials.
Until 2022, we did this primarily through public appearances by our representatives Olivér Pilz and Katalin Törley and through social media, but since then, working with the Human Platform Association, we have focused on direct outreach to our supporters. By campaigning on social media, we managed to convince 20,000 of our followers to sign up in a short period of time, taking advantage of the high profile that public education was receiving at the time. A team of a few members of our movement and the Association participated by writing and distributing posts, advertisements and newsletters, and we also increased our efforts to ask those already subscribed to distribute our materials.
Our campaign, launched in 2022, was born out of the realisation that many of our teacher colleagues are deterred from protesting, especially from taking industrial action, by the financial threat. We have therefore decided to be more active in our contacts with our supporters and to ask them to contribute financially specifically to the creation of a strike fund.
The fundraising was both to help the protesting teachers and to engage citizens who sympathised with them.
Between March and December, more than 600 educational institutions organised a walkout or other solidarity action to raise awareness of the lack of teachers' right to strike, the unjust wages and the problems of the education system. The teachers' movement, the unions and our movement all believe that these actions are the only way to persuade decision-makers to help resolve the situation. However, this courageous stand has put the livelihoods of many teachers at even greater risk, and we felt it was important to compensate them for the loss of pay, thereby ensuring the situation of our colleagues who are protesting.
Having a strike fund is not only about financial support, but also about supporting the strike and making it sustainable. Our aim is to ensure that the financial threat does not deter colleagues from taking action, but that everyone who feels it is right can join and commit to strike action in the longer term, even on a regular basis.
Equally important is the aim to socialise and widen the scope of the education movement, which started as a professional protest. The picket line is a direct way of involving our non-educational supporters, as they can directly promote the strike. So we wanted not only to make a request to supporters, but also to give them the opportunity to become an active part of a cause that is important to them, and thus to follow it more actively and regularly. This was also reflected in our communication, for example by stressing that a donation of 10,000 forints (i.e. 10,000 forints from one person or 2,500 forints from four people) can cover the cost of a teacher's loss of approximately one day's wages. We sent an automatic thank-you message to our donors, also to confirm that they were an important part of the event. This was also important because our followers include a particularly large number of elderly citizens, often with limited mobility, for whom it is not realistic to engage in activism or even join protests, and direct donations offer them a more direct way to get involved than Facebook shares.
On March 16, 2022, the day of the civil disobedience announced by our movement and the day of the strike called by the Teachers' Union, we launched an online payment platform on the Teachers' Movement website, where everyone can easily contribute to the strike fund. On this page, we have also included the account number to make a contribution by bank transfer.
The launch of the platform and fundraising was directly communicated to the nearly 20,000 supporters who signed up to our newsletter during our social media campaign in the previous weeks. We contact our supporters several times a week throughout the fundraising period, typically once a week with fundraising messages specifically encouraging donations, but we also mention the possibility of contributing to the strike fund in other newsletters on other topics. The audience for these newsletters had grown to over 70,000 by the end of the year, thanks to our campaign activists and members of the Human Platform Association. The use of a database and newsletter management (CRM) software that provided a stable, easy-to-use technical framework for direct outreach, and also gave us the possibility to segment messages, set up automatic replies, send a nice reminder to less active followers, and also served as a fundraising platform.
In addition to direct appeals, we also promoted the possibility of online fundraising through social media, through posts on the Tanítanék Facebook page. We have also put up public posters about the picket line through a separate dedicated fundraising campaign: https://www.facebook.com/tanitanek/posts/413760554280239/
We were also able to attract well-known, well-liked figures to our cause, who contributed to the strike fund themselves and publicly pledged to do so, encouraging others to donate. Their statements were featured in our own content and in our newsletters. For example, the actor Róbert Alföldi and the entrepreneur Gábor Bojár did the same.
In addition to bank transfers and online fundraising, the Student Trade Union and volunteers occasionally recruited by our movement collected donations in person at all major demonstrations and public rallies we organised. Volunteers accepted donations in cash and by credit card, and made it clear on each occasion that the purpose of the donations was specifically to compensate teachers who had suffered financially as a result of the strike.
During the fundraising campaign, donors pledged a total of 84 million HUF to the Civil Disobedience and Strike Fund 2022. This ensures that teachers do not have to fear financial loss in the event that they take part in strike days. For those who would take up the protest anyway, this will help them to avoid further losses of at least their current modest pay. And for many teachers who could no longer take the pay cut, the picket line will help them to exercise their right to strike and get more people to take part. In the spring semester 2022, we made 1,033 payouts and in the autumn semester 1,068 payouts to approximately 15,000 striking teachers. We were able to support all striking teachers who applied for this, as well as the 13 colleagues who were dismissed for civil disobedience.
Equally important is the fact that we gave 5,674 individual donors the opportunity to support a cause that is important to them, and connected them with teachers to open up the space for direct help and citizenship. Many have not only joined the fight once, but are following it on an ongoing basis: more than 40% of donors (2,362) have made multiple pledges, and more than 300 have set up automated weekly or monthly donations. This makes clear to decision-makers the broad and enthusiastic support for teachers' causes in Hungarian society. The ease of donation therefore not only provided teachers with access to funds, but also opened up a channel for the social solidarity that is so evident in this cause.
The key practical lessons for us are:
· More important than perfection, we need to react quickly when our case is under serious scrutiny. We made a number of technical mistakes in the beginning, but that was probably much better than letting those moments pass when the will to do something was strongest in people.
· All in all, it was a very good decision to use a CRM system that provided a stable, easy-to-use technical framework for direct enquiries.
· There are many good practices available to help you formulate your messages, and you should use them.
Of course, we perceive that these efforts have so far led to partial successes, mainly in mobilisation. Expanding the strikes, and more actively involving non-educational supporters, could be important challenges in the period ahead. However, we believe that the existence of a broad base of followers, this sustainable way of raising financial resources, can provide a good basis for this, and it is worth sharing experiences in this regard.
The author of this article is a member of the Tanítanék movement.
💡 Interested in the subject of online campaigning? Head to our free, self-paced course on this subject, to grasp the basics: