Organizing and Campaigns

What is Organizing?

Organizing is the work of inspiring and empowering individuals to work together toward a shared political objective by using their collective power to influence decision-makers.

Issue Organizing

A problem and solution have already been identified by an organization, group or individual. An organizer recruits more and more people to collectively advocate towards that solution.

Community Organizing

An organizer supports community leaders by sharing skills and knowledge that help them to advocate collectively for the solutions that the community has identified.

Person speaking through megaphone at rally to stop water shut offs

Organizing Tactics

Organizing can take many forms, the only limit is your creativity! Organizers select tactics that are aimed at either (1) building your collective power and/or (2) persuading a decision maker.

Organizing requires engaging people. For example, calling a decision maker is not an organizing tactic. However, getting five high-profile leaders in the community and another 100 voters to call a decision maker is an organizing tactic. Some examples of organizing tactics include:

  • Constituency Engagement: Sign-on letters, postcards, petition/postcard, phonebanking/calls, turnout
  • Decision-maker Engagement: lobby meetings, office deliveries / drops, phone calls, bird-dogging, attending town halls, posting on social media
  • Events: Tele-townhall, roundtables, coffees, statewide summit, site tours, report release
  • Communications: message-testing poll, public-facing poll, develop messaging strategy
  • Generating Media: press events, LTEs, op-eds, editorial board visits, radio and TV, B-roll
  • Paid Media: Banner and social media ads, radio ads, television ads, newspaper ads (online or in print)

Political Power

Organizing is about shifting political power into the hands of citizens and community members at the local, state, national and sometimes international level. The two major factors that influence politics are (1) people and (2) money.

Who has power in the political process?

  • Money (industry, lobbyists, etc.)
  • Media
  • Policy/Military
  • Voters
  • Labor
  • Consumers

How does organizing interact with these interests? Organizing uses the power of the “people” i.e.

  • Voters
  • Labor
  • Consumers
  • Leveraging Media
Three people holding signs advocating for clean water and protecting waters

Ultimately the power shift is between… Organized People vs. Organized Money

Why Does Organizing Matter… Because it Works!

Organizing is the most powerful tool available to the people. Though few may control mechanisms of power like money, the policy, or the military – no one could remain in power without the assistance of the voters, consumer dollars, or labor of millions and more. Organizing is the most necessary of all ingredients in maintaining a democracy.

Without organizing, women would not have the right to vote, Jim Crow laws would still be in place in the South, children would be working in dangerous factories instead of going to school, the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act would not exist, South African Apartheid would be in place, LGBTQ+ individuals would not be able to get married in the United States, and the list goes on and on.

It is frightening to imagine a world without organizers, and inspiring to know that whatever the challenges of today – By unleashing the power of the people through organizing, we can change our reality and build a better world together.

Our work is founded upon the:

Jemez Principles for Democratic Organizing

What is a Campaign?

This word can be used a lot of different ways in different contexts - often referring to an “advertising campaign” or a “political campaign.” However, at the National Wildlife Federation, we think about campaigns as a time-bound series of tactics designed to strategically achieve an overall advocacy goal or set of goals. This can be everything from passing a specific piece of legislation to simply elevating the profile of an issue - or both! For more information on how we think about building a winning campaign strategy, check out our Campaign Planning Toolkit!


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