We’re big believers in the power of online actions to support offline movement building. Online letter writing campaigns, petition drives, social media blitzes, and other e-actions can be great ways to reach new people, grow your supporter base, and flex your collective muscle.
But relying too much on online action without balancing it with offline, face-to-face organizing can leave you spinning your wheels. Make sure you know what your goals are, and that an online campaign is the best way to meet them.
1) Is there a clear theory of change?
People want to understand how their participation has the potential to make a real difference.
2) Is there urgency?
People are more likely to act if you can explain why now is the crucial moment you are asking for action and participation.
3) Can you define what victory looks like?
Articulating this up front will help you craft a campaign to serve your goals, and will make your pitch to supporters more compelling.
4) Is there a plan for follow-up with supporters?
It’s good to think through what the next steps look like after the initial email, especially for those who take action. Keep in mind that people are waiting for the recognition of their effort, so keep up the communication going.
If your campaign idea is clear and geographically localized—and if you answered “yes” to the questions above—then 350.org may be able to help you get it off the ground. Email email@example.com to suggest a campaign. If you don't think your idea meets these criteria but you still want to go ahead with the campaign, there are lots of free online petition platforms out there, such as Change.org
or We the People
for those in the US.
Other planning questions to keep in mind: Is there a delivery plan for the letters or petition signatures that your campaign will generate? Is this part of a larger narrative, and will this chapter in the story make sense to people? Do you have supporting materials lined up to help make your case (articles, videos, reports)? If you received an email about this campaign, would you share it with all your friends?