Organizing is a powerful tool for effecting social change. You can use it to advocate for electoral change, increase your donor database, get support for your NGO, campaign for your political parties, pressure your elected officials to fulfill their electoral promises, and hold corporations accountable. However, with the many opportunities that the internet offers, as well as the number of people on it – for example, over 90% of US residents can access the internet – it is only natural that organizing goes digital.
What is digital organizing?
Digital organizing is the result of combining technology with organizing. It is the process of using digital tools to mobilize people to take action. These tools range from mobile apps that were built for the singular purpose of organizing, like OutreachCircle and Impactive, to normal online platforms that organizers co-opt to aid communication and facilitate organizing, like Twitter and Facebook.
Whether you are an activist trying to get more people to act on climate change or a politician trying to recruit supporters for your campaign, digital organizing presents an effective method of achieving your goals.
What are the benefits of digital organizing?
Digital organizing has many benefits. They include the following:
- It provides access to more people – unlike physical organizing where there is a limit to the number of people you can meet, there is no limit to the number of people you can meet through digital organizing. Also, there is no physical barrier as people can participate in your quest from anywhere in the world.
- It is more accessible – digital organizing is also more accessible to people than physical organizing. For example, there are people who are uncomfortable with in-person meetings and will find it hard to show up as such. With digital organizing, you open the door to better engagement with them. With digital organizing, they can participate in the causes they believe in from the comfort of their homes.
- It enables everybody to contribute – by its very nature, digital organizing supports flexibility. As a result, volunteers can contribute from anywhere and at any time, regardless of their schedule.
Effective advocacy requires numbers and digital organizing gives you the tools to recruit more people to your cause. As a result, it increases your chances of success. However, digital organizing should be seen as a tool. It is not a replacement for impactful organizing and all the rules that apply to that also apply when you are mobilizing digitally. In other words, the focus should remain on building personal relationships, engaging in meaningful outreach, and empowering communities.
How to switch to digital organizing
To make the switch to digital organizing, you need to engage with supporters across three areas:
1. Identification and recruitment
With this framework, you can move people from supporters to volunteers to invested stakeholders.
- Supporters are people who identify with your cause but aren’t actively involved with it.
- Volunteers are supporters who are interested in playing a part toward the realization of your cause.
- Stakeholders are supporters who take a more central role in your campaign; hence, their actions have more impact on your campaign.
If you can apply this framework, then you will have a successful digital organizing campaign.
What does digital organizing look like?
Digital organizing can take any of several forms. We mention some of them below:
- Peer-to-peer texting
- Community building calls
- SMS broadcasts
- Email campaigns
- Push notifications
- Mobile canvassing
- Live streams
The best campaigns use a combination of these forms based on their goals and their audiences.
Tips on getting the best out of digital organizing
If you are making the switch to digital organizing, here are some tips on how to go about it:
- Ensure your communication is relevant to the situation
- Invest in digital software solutions and management tools, from Constituent Relationship Managers (CRM) and campaign software to SMS campaigning platforms and mobile canvassing solutions
- Be empathetic and relatable in your communications
- Meet your audience where they are – Facebook, TikTok, LinkedIn, WhatsApp, etc.
Also, identify which channel is best for keeping volunteers engaged, whether texts or calls.
Digital organizing offers a massive opportunity to engage with more volunteers than ever before. With this tool, you can mobilize more people toward the achievement of your goals.