Main goal: 1 million valid signatures withing 12 months from the start of the signature phase.

Tip: Calculate with at least 1,3 to 1,5 million, because there will be invalid, illegible and double signatures. To be on the safe side, also multiply the needed signatures per country by 1,3.

Apart from this, there can of course be other goals, like connecting relevant stakeholders, building of a European organisation, attention from the media or from politics on different levels for the topic.

The main goal (a minimum of 1 million signatures) on the other hand can be divided into clear sub-goals. For an ECI to be counted as successful, the prescribed minimum of signatures needs to be reached in at least seven countries.

Just like in classical project management, it is recommended to define sub-goals (signatures at the end of each month) and milestones (the first 10.000, 100.000, minimum number per country etc.). This way, one can check one’s progress and take measures, if one stays behind one’s goals


An ECI is a classical project: A one-time endeavour with a defined goal, that has to be realised in a clearly limited timeframe, with the given financial and personal resources. Therefor, basic elements of classic – but also agile – project management can strongly contribute to success.

Early preparation is the necessary base for success. Because this is a long-running endeavour with many junctions, many work packages and a high complexity, a planning phase of a least half a year (or even a whole year) is recommended.

Professional project management is best reached with a professional project manager, who responsibly leads the whole ECI. An according number of fulltime project staff in the highest level is of advantage. Planning, management, control and – if needed – rectification are the key to success.

This is in particular about defining the following: Goals, timeframe, resources, chances and risks, networks and campaign. In practice, some steps run paralell to each other, but in the interest of simplicity, they are presented here individually.

Before the collection of signatures begins, there needs to be enough time scheduled in advance for all organisational, legal and organisational questions. Here is a (incomplete) list of the most important points:

  • Legal form of the ECI (Association? Corporation?Non-profit limited liability company? Something different?)
  • Forming of citizens‘ committee
  • Structure and hierarchy (internal organisation of the ECI)
  • Building a network and finding allies
  • Fundraising and financial management
  • Formulation and registration of the initiative
  • Appearance in public (name, logo, website, social media, print…)
  • Acquiring, testing and implementing tool for signature collection
  • Creating of a signature form
  • Defining of communications channels, establishing of contact points, planning of databases
  • Planning of campaign phases
  • Considering of important events and happenings (parliamentary meetings), large events (Football World Cup, Octoberfest etc.) and public holidays
  • Rather plan more generously when it comes to time, so there will be no time shortage and, in the case of sudden events, the plan can be re-adjusted. Time will grow short all on its own! The timetable is essential for Controlling: defined milestones and signature goals help to check the efficiency and accuracy of one’s own campaign and to find potential weaknesses.

The exchange with another ECI, successful or not, can help with orientation and planning. This exchange can be especially useful for the formation of networks and might bring unexpected ideas for new allies.


One of the most important resources was already mentioned here: Time. The two other relevant entities are money and staff. An ECI has many financing needs: Project management and project staff, travel and material costs, advertising material, the website, office, – and meeting spaces, technical equipment, communication costs and much more. Hence, it needs to be clarified in the beginning for what timeframe funding is needed, how high personal and material costs will be and what will be the sources that secure financing. A stringent budget plan and strict controlling is essential in order to prevent unpleasant surprises during and after an ECI. Consistent bookkeeping and financial auditing are important in one’s own interest – no one should have to pay for debt or liabilities and might also be required due to legal requirements. A lot of this is predetermined through the legal form and the place of the organisation’s headquarters (through associations‘ and company law). The time frame for financing stretches normally from the beginning of planning till about 3 to 6 months after the ECI, that means a minimum of 21 to 24 months (6 months of minimal planning, 12 months ECI and 3 to 6 months follow -up). It can be estimated by the time, – and campaign planning, how much money will be needed at which point in time. When it comes to financial matters, it is especially important to get everything in writing and formulate it as precisely as possible. If there will be a cooperation with an agency, which will design the campaign and logo, it is recommended to put the exact range of services, the quality, rework etc. Into the contract. This saves a lot of hassle and misunderstandings; the same is true for all other companies and organisations, whose services are used. Material costs are due for everything from technical appliances, computers, smartphones, printer paper, pens and advertising material to server, – and website costs. Depending on if the focus of the campaign is online or in the analogue world, costs can vary significantly. It is hard to provide a general estimate here, this needs to be looked at on a case-by-case basis. The source of the money is almost the most relevant factor. Possibilities range from equity capital, if one is a large organisation with sufficient funds or contributions from organisations in one’s own network to membership fees (if one is an association) to donations (that is always possible). Financing can also happen in the form of staff outsourcing or through donations of goods, office space or technical items. If a large organisation is supporting or carrying an ECI and is „lending” one or several employees for the time of the project, a part of the financing is already taken care of. Be careful: Organisations do not necessarily give large sums without expectations or ulterior motives. Some hope for influence or a louder voice within the ECI. Such situations require tact.

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Europeans for Affordable Housing e.V.