Strategy and Action Tools

Instructions to lead tools from The New Jim Crow organizing guide

Chapter 1: Roles in movement-building

Four Roles in Social Change
Handouts to teach about the four roles in social change: Helpers, Advocates, Organizers, and Rebels.

Movements are made up of many people doing many different things. They include Helpers who offer direct service and help people with tangible needs. Movements must also need Rebels who say a loud "no!" to social conditions and public policies that violate these values. It is not enough, however, to protest. Movements need Organizers who work to educate and involve the general public to oppose present policies and seek positive, constructive solutions. Finally, they must be Advocates who work within official political and judicial structures to get solutions incorporated into laws and governmental policies.

Which role are you? How can you play it more effectively? Here's a handout to help your group learn more.   Download here.

Chapter 2: Building strong groups

Upside-Down Triangle
Help others understand how power works. Instructions on leading the upside-down triangle with your group using two methods.

A moment based on people power needs to have a new analysis of power: one that shows how it really does reside in the people, and not just in the hands of the 1%, the courts, jailers, or politicians. The upside-down triangle helps us do that.

Two methods for teaching this: on the left, instructions for a basic presentation of the concept with your group. Great for a meeting or analysis. On the right, a highly interactive way of teaching the concept that uses a mattress! Download Upside-Down Triangle (on left) or Mattress Game (on right).

One-on-One Meetings
Learn more about how to make the most of meetings with members and new allies.

Relationship building is at the core of organizing – and happens in many different ways. One core technique: the one-on-one meeting.

The general purpose of the one-on-one is to build and strengthen a relationship. Other goals include: strengthening community relationships; modeling the values of your group; modeling self-care and respectful ways of listening and sharing.

Download instructions for one-on-one meetings here.

Menu of Tasks
During those one-on-one meetings, it's helpful to have a clear sense of how to delegate -- this tool can help.

One organizer had what he called the "iron rule of organizing" -- never do for others what they can do themselves. It's a lesson many organizers could take to heart -- and would result in more empowerment and less burden for organizers!

To do that, we need to have a clear sense of how to delegate tasks. This tool can help you think about that, and making a list of what tasks you may need to delegate to others.

Download here.

Meeting Facilitation
Instructions for leading "no magic" meeting facilitation

This 4-pager will help you learn more about how to lead effective, interesting, exciting meetings.

While there is no foolproof way to insure successful meetings, there are a number of guidelines that will go a long way toward helping groups to meet both joyfully and productively. Most people can learn how to facilitate a good meeting, but it does take some time and attention. The more people within a group who are aware of good group process skills, the easier the task of the facilitator and the more sat- isfactory the meeting.

Download here.

How to be Persuasive
Tips on persuasion

Whether convincing other people to join your group, give you money, or assist at your next event, persuasion is important. Here are a few tips on persuasion from an experienced campaigner.

Download here.

Chapter 3: Building campaigns

Thinking Strategically: 9 questions
Questions to consider when designing a campaign

Written by experienced campaigners, this chart is a helpful guide for groups building a campaign, walking your group through 9 key questions.

Download here.

Midwest Academy Chart

Sometimes it's helpful to have a detailed structure to plan a campaign. For some people having a chart to work from can be helpful. From the Midwest Academy is a strategy chart. Filling it out together as a group, or even for a few leaders doing it early on in campaign development, can help notice gaps and needs.

Download here.

Nonviolent Direct Action: when it's useful, when it's not useful
Shall we escalate to more risky actions? Some advice.

Nonviolent direct action is more than just a tactic to use, it's part of a whole strategy and approach to the work. But if your group is trying to decide if escalating into civil disobedience actions is appropriate or not, here are a few guidelines to help you consider.

Download here.

Paper Plate: sequencing tactics
Help thinking through a series of tactics

Part of the power of campaigns is selecting a sequence of tactics that escalate over time. Would you start a campaign with a risky action, or a few actions that are lower-risk, to build up support?

Though the question seems easy, many groups have trouble thinking about how to powerfully sequence actions. This interactive exercise can help a group think this through and practice thoughtful escalation. It can be used by groups in varying stages of campaign development -- early, middle, or even near the end of a campaign. Also helpful to get a group starting to strategize together -- you can break people into small groups and have them develop different paper plate sequences.

Download here.

Spectrum of Allies
A key tool to help people understand social movement theory

We win by moving the public. Yet "the public" is not a single group of people.

This tool helps us break-down "the public" into different segments, so we can understand who we need to target and move. It's a powerful tool that has many functions:

  • teaching people about social change and how change happens (we don't convince everyone to come to our side, but instead move each wedge one towards us);
  • a research tool to examine gaps of who we don't know or have relationships with;
  • a strategy tool to look at where our strengths are and what areas we need to design new outreach strategies;
  • and more.

If you aren't familiar with this tool, you'll love it. And if you have, you probably already know what a powerful tool this can be for your group.

Download here.

Action Logic
What makes a protest action powerful? This will help you understand.

Powerful actions have a special magic -- they take off because people understand what it means. Observers understand why people are doing it. And without a lot of explanation, the action naturally has a kind of inherent logic.

We call that: action logic.

Understanding this concept can help our actions move from bland or predictable, to much more powerful and effective.

Download here.

Building campaigns on widely-shared values
A way to help leverage values for our campaigns

This straightforward chart carries a powerful insight in campaigning: campaigns expose society's myths and appeal to widely-shared values. This makes some sense -- but really getting into this approach is a challenge. Many activists are so used to identifying where people's values aren't in alignment with ours. We tend to focus on violations and hypocrisy, rather than connecting with the mainstream people's values that we can connect with. This tool challenges us to move beyond rhetoric and into impacting the values of society.

Download here.