Suddenly, grassroots-led campaign platforms are everywhere.
Ever since the spectacular growth of Change.org in 2011, people are starting petitions and running their own campaigns like never before — saving hospitals, stopping industrial dumping, and creating real change in their communities.
What is the real impact of all these campaigns? What does it mean for the future of social change? What lessons can we learn about how to be successful? We asked the minds behind the biggest grassroots-led campaign platforms these questions, and more.
The answers are contained in our 2014 report, Grassroots-led Campaigns: Lessons from the new frontier of grassroots-powered campaigning, authored by veteran progressive digital strategist Colin Holtz, and drawing upon interviews with Change.org, MoveOn.org, Avaaz.org, 38 Degrees, CampaignsByYou, CREDO Mobilize, GetUp! CommunityRun, and more.
“These new campaigns are popping up everywhere. But the whole model is not well-understood. We set out to understand what’s really happening, and how — and came out a bit surprised by the answers.” — Colin Holtz, report author
“Using new insight to put everyday people at the center of campaigns is what the Mobilisation Lab at Greenpeace is all about. Organizations won’t just learn a lot from this report — they’ll be able to immediately apply its lessons and hopefully rethink how they work with their members and supporters.” — Michael Silberman, Mobilisation Lab Global Director
Five key takeaways
1) If you generate campaigns and test, you will grow.
Part of the value of grassroots-led campaigns is that they reach new audiences and bring in new members. If you generate a sufficient volume of campaigns (see #2 — and the full report) and test to see which campaigns recruit new people before promoting them widely, your membership will grow.
2) Campaign volume leads to growth and impact.
Anyone campaign could potentially recruit thousands of new members, or have a huge impact. But the reality is that to you need to generate a lot of campaigns each month in order to grow your member base and, to a lesser extent, create impact through winning campaigns.
3) Grassroots-led campaigns win victories and add value, but don’t entirely replace staff-led campaigns.
There is no denying that giving people more power to campaign on the things they care about brings real value for everyone involved, and creates real change in the world. But don’t fire anyone — you still need a team to win campaigns on all those big, intractable problems.
4) Invest staff time to be successful.
This was the universal refrain from every group interviewed. Grassroots-led campaigns platforms are not Field of Dreams — “If you build it, they will come.” You need to spend resources generating campaigns and helping campaign creators be successful.
5) Initial concerns and expectations are often overstated.
This report will help you avoid many of the big red flags that worry groups considering giving more control to their members, while offering guidance for setting reasonable expectations around what grassroots-led campaigns can accomplish.
- About this study: The Basics
- What are grassroots-led campaigns? Are they right for you?
- Impact: What impact do grassroots-led campaigns have on the world?
- Lessons: What can we learn from current platforms?
- Steps to Success: What practical rules will help you succeed?
- Conclusion: Where do grassroots-led campaigns go from here?
- Campaigning - Approaches_Actions_Tactics
- Campaigning - Digital_Virtual
- Campaigning - Grassroots
- Digital campaigning
- Leadership - Distributed
- Members and Supporters
- Not for profit organisations_Non Government Organisations NGOs
- Petitions - Digital_Virtual
- Technology - Platforms