How to start a grassroots movement

Local community activism is becoming the basis for many major political and economic movements, dismantling the misconception that change is possible only from the top-down. Let's see how you can start you own ‘grassroots activism movement’. 

5 min read
How to start a grassroots movement

Whether it’s fighting against racial injustice, supporting a local political party or advocating for a more sustainable planet, more and more, like-minded citizens are coming together to promote the causes they care about. Local community activism is increasingly becoming the basis for many major political and economic movements, thereby serving to dismantle the common misconception that change is possible only from the top-down. This act of ordinary community-members operating as the catalysts for social change is known as ‘grassroots activism,’ and has been a popular form of mobilization since the early 20th century. 

The idea of ordinary citizens using collective action to create change is a relatively simple concept; in practice, however, executing action of this nature can be tricky. That’s why we’ve prepared this step-by-step guide to simplify the process of creating your own grassroots movement and to help you to effectively mobilize change from the bottom-up. With the help of our top tips, you can build a solid foundation upon which to grow your movement, thereby allowing you and your fellow citizens to begin affecting meaningful change at the local, regional, national or even international level. 

STEP 1: Identify your purpose

The first step towards making social change of any kind is identifying exactly what the purpose of your action is and how you intend to achieve this: 

  • Having a clear mission at this stage is essential, so take some time to lay out what success looks like for your movement, what it will take to make success happen, and why achieving this desired outcome is important to those it affects.
  •  Make sure that your vision of success is workable in practice: a goal that is unrealistically ambitious is unlikely to gain support and will quickly fail. Instead, set measurable, reasonable objectives in the beginning- you can always expand these as your movement grows!
  • When identifying your movement’s purpose and vision of success, consider going directly to the people your movement is hoping to help and ask them what they need. This will ensure that your movement is going to the very heart of the issue you’re trying to correct or improve. It’s also an excellent way to directly engage with members of your community on the topic!

STEP 2: Build your team

Having identified your purpose, it’s time to find the right people to help you execute your mission:

  • Quality is far more important than quantity at this stage; building a small, dedicated team of people who have a genuine passion for your cause is far more important than amassing large numbers of supporters during your movement’s more formative stages. 
  • Make sure that your team is composed of both people who have experience in the sector, and people who have a personal interest in the cause. Different perspectives will ensure that your efforts take a rounded approach to problem-solving. 
  • Reach out to local organizations with similar missions and ask if they know of people who might be interested in getting involved with your cause. This is an easy way to expand your network and to ensure that more experienced voices are involved with your work.

And with Qomon: invite unlimited members to your Qomon web platform and mobile app. Assign different accesses to each of them depending on the role they have in your organization or campaign. 

Once you have gathered a good member database, you can assign them to different teams depending on the core mission they will be developing within the organization.

If they are only going canvassing, you can create a team to manage those people! 

Manage your members and teams from Qomon

STEP 3: Identify roles and responsibilities 

Now that you’ve gathered your team, it’s important to assign positions to each member. Providing a structure will give coherence to your efforts:

  • Start by identifying a clear leader. This should be someone who works well with others, has plenty of time to devote to the movement, and preferably has past experience working in leadership positions.
  • Next, assign individual roles to each member of your team. These roles should be given based on the unique experience and expertise of each person- for example, if someone is a qualified accountant, they might be best placed to manage the movement’s funds. 
  • It’s important to establish a clear chain of command so that everyone on your team has someone to report to. Creating a clear channel of communication will be required in order for this to be executed smoothly. 

And with Qomon: as mentioned above, you can assign roles to the different members of your organization or campaign. If you want to learn more about how these roles work at Qomon and the features they will be having access to, check this article in our help center.

Organize your members and assign individual roles to them

STEP 4: Decide whether to incorporate 

At this stage of the movement-forming process, it’s important to decide whether or not to identify as an official non-profit organization:

  • Identifying as a non-profit organization does provide extra tax benefits to your movement, however, it also incurs more legal responsibilities, such as tighter management rules and restrictions on political and lobbying activities. 
  • It is worth seeking advice from a legal professional in order to determine whether forming a nonprofit is the best option for your movement. 

STEP 5: Identify your tech needs

Determining what forms of tech support your movement will need is a question best answered in the earlier stages of your movement’s journey, before you actually begin collecting any substantial data. That’s why it’s a good idea to address this issue at this stage:

  • As your movement grows, your team will be required to process increasingly large volumes of data, from supporter contact details to canvassing routes. This data will need to be stored, analyzed and acted upon. Rather than maintaining tedious spreadsheets or hand-written records, employing the help of a digital solution can eliminate a great deal of the manual work involved in processing this data.
  • Today, a multitude of software solutions exist that operate to remove some of the more time-consuming work involved in activism. These range from citizen relationship managers (CRMs) to canvassing apps. Determining which of these you need will involve a careful examination of your movement’s needs and the kinds of data you hope to collect.
  • For more information on how digital solutions can help your grassroots movement, book a demo with Qomon today to learn more about your specific needs.

STEP 6: Spread the word!

You’ve succeeded in completing the most important internal tasks involved in establishing a grassroots movement - congratulations! Now it’s finally time to share your movement with the world:

  • Door knocking is one of the most effective ways of garnering support and spreading awareness for your movement. Map out routes and send your team into the field to knock on doors within your locality and inform members of your community about your movement and the work it’s hoping to accomplish. A canvassing app can be particularly helpful for this. 
  • Harness the power of social media- set up accounts for your movement on Facebook and Instagram and ensure that there’s a regular stream of content available to your followers so that they’re up-to-date on any key developments made. Make sure to also keep them in the loop about any opportunities for them to offer their support, whether this is through making a donation or volunteering with your team. 

And with Qomon: you can gather as much support as possible for your cause with the different actions we propose on the web platform. Mobilize your teams digitally or in-the-field and have them collect contacts and data to analyze later and communicate with them.

Organize different actions from the Qomon platform

Grassroots movements are an innovative and inclusive approach to solving the regional issues faced by communities of all sizes across the globe. Starting your own is an excellent way to affect meaningful change in your locality and to use your own personal insights to tackle real problems faced by those around you. The prospect of launching your own movement can feel like a daunting task, particularly if you’re someone without expertise in the field or a large team of supporters behind you to start with. But as the American anthropologist Margaret Mead once said: “never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” 

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