Online Organizing 101


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A presentation given at Camp Wellstone! in Seattle, WA during Summer 2009.

A brief introduction to using online tools for 21st century advocacy.

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Online Organizing 101

  1. 1. A Brief Introduction to Online Organizing by Garlin Gilchrist II
  2. 2. Organizing As We *Knew* It  Paper and pen  Phones and spreadsheets  Reliance on press to generate energy and attention  Lost files, MIA volunteers, drive-by data collection  “Internet team” was stuck in a basement fixing printers
  3. 3. Big Changes in 2004  Political campaigns (i.e. Dean and Kerry) and large nonprofits (i.e. MoveOn, Greenpeace, etc.) made better use of the web  General public more aware of the internet (online shopping, online banking, etc.)
  4. 4. Even Bigger Changes in 2008  Millions of dollars from small-dollar donors  Creativity in fundraising, mobile outreach, and communications  Integration of online organizing into every corner of a campaign
  5. 5. What Does it Cost to Not Participate?  Who could you be engaging?  Who are you currently missing?
  6. 6. Online Organizing...Now  Integrated into all corners  Complements and improves: ☐ Fundraising ☐ Communications ☐ Voter contact ☐ Field plans ☐ Volunteer programs/capacity  Must still have an offline connection Organizing Fundraising Web Presence Communications
  7. 7. Message or Video Credit: Larry Huynh, Blackrock Associates Old Media Ecosystem
  8. 8. Message or Video • Email supporters • Blog outreach • Live-blogging • Online Google ads • Social networking Credit: Larry Huynh, Blackrock Associates New Media Ecosystem
  9. 9. Message or Video • Email supporters • Blog outreach • Live-blogging • Online Google ads • Social networking Viral Allies email their own supporters Blogs build more buzz & deepen story Media increases coverage Credit: Larry Huynh, Blackrock Associates Results of New Media Ecosystem
  10. 10. Why do people respond to the web?  Story  Timeliness  Sense of urgency  Connect with others  Meaningful action
  11. 11. Website Basics  Clean and clear design  Guide users  Up-to-date, dynamic content  Highlight stories on site  Emphasize user experience  Put organization’s emphasis front and center  Test, test, test
  12. 12. Your Campaign site MUST have:  Email signup form  Big red donate button  Contact form  Bio  News & Events  Issue/policy statements  Press page
  13. 13. Email Basics  Make sure you have something to say  Keep an email calendar  Invest in a blast email tool  Create an inviting landing page for email visitors  Peer-to-peer viral tools  Focus on organic email list growth  Test, test, test
  14. 14. Online Fundraising Basics  Same principles as offline fundraising  Be creative  Make it simple  Be consistent with messaging  Be ready  Be secure
  15. 15. Organizational Culture  New media ecosystem means a new organizational ecosystem  New organizing needs collaboration  IT staff are not online organizing staff  Be ready to show results – quantitative and qualitative
  16. 16. So Where Do You Start?  Map out your current online presence  Take stock of your goals  What can you do, vs. what should you do?  What tools do you need vs. what tools do you want?
  17. 17.  Think about existing connections – national arm of your org or local networking opportunities  Train staff vs. hire consultant?  If you hired someone, where would that person fit into your organization?  Scour job banks for “norms” in salary and responsibilities Next Steps
  18. 18. o You are not Barack Obama. o Most campaigns stop before starting o Campaigns “go viral” 0.01% of the time o Be OK with failing o Find parallels between traditional organizing and new organizing o Success is a slow slog – there is no silver bullet Keep in mind before starting:
  19. 19. What are you going to do tomorrow?
  20. 20. Contact Garlin: (425) 244-5423 New Organizing Institute