Latest Posts




Values: 58 Ideas We Live By  is a beautiful deck of cards for exploring who we are, designed by Genis Carreras in collaboration with PIRC.

“Love. Creativity. Enjoyment. Curiosity. Friendship. Purpose. Psychological research shows that we are all driven by the same things — but differ in how we prioritise them. Fifty-eight values guide our lives, shaping who we are, what we do, and ultimately the kind of society we live in.”

Whether you’re just mildly interested in values or a fully fledged Common Cause geek looking for workshop material, this little deck deserves a place in your life…

Support the project and get some cards.

Year in review


Great stuff that we were involved in this year, limited to 140 character snippets, like those  “tweet” things, because we are down with the kids…

Equinet commissioned us to research equality and tolerance in Europe, and we went data mining to pull out some significant trends

Wales was sunny for 3 whole days (!) while we held a Common Cause residential training with a great group of people. Highlights included a spontaneous ceilidh and some extreme frisbee.

Along with nef and FinanceLab we launched Campaign Lab 3: a popular 6-month training programme for civil society campaigners, activists and organisers.

We were part of a major piece of research into the way that charities communicate by WWF-UK and Scope called No Cause is an Island.

We teamed up with Equally Ours and Counterpoint to explore how Human Rights are framed in British newspapers: report coming soon!

We helped out with the ‘Communities with a Common Cause’ Action Learning Programme in Scotland which was recognised with a UNESCO Outstanding Flagship Project award.

We co-hosted our first Values & Education conference with Character Scotland and Lifeworlds Learning, bringing 60+ researchers and educationalists together to discuss practice and policy.

LGBTI advocacy group ILGA Europe brought us to Brussels to host 3 days of training on equality framing and campaigning. Something we hope to build on in 2015.

We helped the Common Cause international network to grow, with new groups in Canada, Germany and the Netherlands and plans underway for a dedicated Common Cause organisation in Australia!

We have also done loads of great work with a variety of people and organisations and we would like to take this opportunity to thank you for it. We did start making a list of all the people we would like to thank but there were so many of you it got a little long — rest assured we loved working with you and are thankful for your help and support.

7 Blogging Highlights

  1. We need to talk about alienation!: The dirty word that’s due a comeback…
  2. Visualising values: Introducing some amazing design work from Genis Carreras (that has since been made into some beautiful values cards).
  3. Shared ownership: Why democratic processes can make us all better people.
  4. On having more than two sides: An important debate about the psychology research that Common Cause is based on.
  5. Communication is conservation: Some key recommendations following the publication of the Common Cause for Nature report.
  6. Why you accidently called your teacher ‘mum’: Insights from anthropology work on Relational Models.
  7. The power of hashtags: A critical look at social media in campaigns like #BringBackOurGirls.

Coming next year

Some of the things we’ll be doing include:

A second edition of the Common Cause Handbook.

Working with several UK conservation NGOs we’re launching the second phase of Common Cause for Nature.

With Genis Carreras, we’re launching a Kickstarter for a set of beautiful value-graphic cards.

Along with FinanceLab and nef we’re hoping to launch Campaign Lab 4.

In collaboration with Simon Harris, and funding permitting, we’ll be launching Culture Lab: a 6-month action learning programme for arts and culture leaders in Wales.

Having just got started with the first few seminars, we’ll be continuing work on a Welsh Government supported Food Values project with the Organic Centre Wales.


Ant, Bec, Elena, Jamie, Kevin, Ralph, Rich, Tanya & Tim.

Hate racism, love Finland:
10 ways values link to prejudices across Europe

What do you value in life?

If you ask anybody this question, there’s surprising similarity in what people say. You can generally put people’s values into four broad groups:

  1. Change & autonomy values, such as creativity and freedom,are linked to tolerance and comfort with difference. (Openness-to-change values)
  2. Care & empathy values are all about concern for others and the environment, equality and tolerance. (Self-transcendence, or intrinsic values)
  3. Stability & security values, such as social order and respect for tradition, are associated with maintenance of the status quo and discomfort with other groups. (Conservation values)
  4. Power & competition values are linked to prejudice, discrimination, materialism and concern about status, self and money. (Self-enhancement, or extrinsic values)

We all hold all of these values, but to different degrees. These four groups work in opposition to each other as in the diagram below. Care/empathy values are opposite power/competition, and change/autonomy values oppose stability/security values. This means we’re unlikely to value one set highly if we value the other set highly. (Read more about how this works here!)

values_four_way Read more

The special theory of relationships – or why you accidently called your teacher ‘mum’

The desire to understand and classify different types of human relationships isn’t new; we’ve been pondering it for thousands of years. What rules govern our interactions? And how do relationships shape us into the people we become?

The answers aren’t immediately straight forward, because the way we interact with each other is influenced by many things: how well we know and trust people, who’s got more power, the agreed understanding of reciprocation or exchange, and whether we converge around a common interest or selfish need. These things can be very fluid, too. Think about how you’d interact with a friend, a colleague, your grandmother, in a range of different situations. While you might see these people as being in different ‘categories’ of relationship, you probably have a rich variety of ways you interact with every one of them. Moment to moment, mood to mood, you’ll be laughing, arguing, teaching, ignoring or sharing with each other, although perhaps not in equal measure.

As social creatures, our experience of relationships is a huge part of how we develop. Our values, personalities and tastes are strongly influenced by our interactions with our parents growing up, with our colleagues at work, with the natural world. And this influence goes both ways. Not only do our values inform the types of relationships we seek, but our values also change over time as a result of our relationships. By understanding this feedback loop a little better, we gain useful insights into social and environmental problems.

Relationship theory is a tool to guide better ways of talking to each other, organising our workplace, and supporting campaigns or causes. Read more

From single issues towards systemic change: Tearfund’s ‘Project Doughnut’

Guest blog by Lara Kirch and Micha Narberhaus at Smart CSOs.

As we have experienced in the Smart CSOs community over the last two years, changing an organisation to work on system change is far from an easy task. Most civil society organisations are deeply entrenched in the current system. We might irritate partners and constituencies if we don’t fulfil their expectations and we have a reputation and trust to lose. Most available funding schemes are far from supporting the type of uncertain work needed for long-term system change. But the most difficult part is to change the organisation’s culture, its structure and way of doing things. It requires a change in mindsets and developing the right capacities.

Maybe it is not a surprise that recently some church and faith-based organisations have been among the most progressive pioneers in starting to promote and communicate an alternative vision for a socially and environmentally sustainable global society that is based on sufficiency, solidarity and community. They are grounded on exactly these values.

The advocacy department of Tearfund, a UK Christian relief and development agency founded in 1968, has recently embarked on a change process aimed at aligning its strategic focus and internal structures with a vision of an economy that works for people and the planet. Sarah Anthony and Tom Baker from Tearfund’s advocacy team have told us how they have approached this challenge and what they have learned so far. Read more

IPCC: CO2 emissions are being ‘outsourced’ by rich countries to rising economies

The upcoming IPCC Fifth Assessment Working Group 2 report will cover outsourced emissions:

“A growing share of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion in developing countries is released in the production of goods and services exported, notably from upper-middle-income countries to high-income countries.

For more on this problem, see our Carbon Omissions animation.