Digital Boots Online: The Conference!

digital boots online

The next Organizing 2.0 training conference has a date: June 6+7. And we’re proud to be returning to the site of our first conference ever, way back in 2009: The Murphy Institute. Once again, we’ll be bringing together the labor and organizing world’s most enthusiastic trainers in organizing, digital strategy, social media, grassroots fundraising and advocacy.

Register today

The Organizing 2.0 Conference (our 5th!) brings organizers together for workshops, trainings, discussions, consulting and networking, visionary speakers, and thoughtful debates about our strategies and practices.

Over two days in Manhattan hundreds of people will come together to learn from each other, share stories and build our skills, organizations and movements.

Featured tracks include online to offline organizing, digital strategy on a budget, member engagement and grassroots fundraising. (We’re still accepting ideas for speakers and workshops – let us know what you need and/or what you can offer.)

Register today

The cost is $100 for the two full-days. Scholarships are available. This year’s conference is brought to you by our partners:  The Murphy Institute for Worker Education (CUNY), New York State AFL-CIO, New York City Central Labor Council, and the New York Civic Engagement Table. Dozens of other organizations, sponsors, volunteers and donors will be announced in the coming days.

The conference will be held at the The Murphy Institute, 25 West 43rd St. Conference is wheelchair accessible.

For sponsorships, group registration and all other inquiries, reply to this email or contact conference@organizing20.org / 202-460-5199.

Not ready to register? RSVP on our Facebook event page and help spread the word. Thank you!

Getting Your Skills On @ Organizing New York

ONY is comingWho needs skills training? Well… everyone. Which explains in part why progressives, nonprofit staff and activists are inundated with capacity-building efforts of every stripe. Webinars, Meetups, trainings, workshops, conferences near and far, free e-books, and courses you can take at your own pace.

It’s understandable really. New tools are coming out all the time, new research pours out with ever-changing best practices, and new people come up through the ranks with the unique lessons they want to share.

Organizing New York fits in this landscape by working with grassroots organizations and making sure our offerings match what they want, rather than serving as a vehicle to sell you products or services. Our larger purpose – beyond some session you find useful – is to create communities of practice that cross the silos that litter the progressive landscape.

Doing better at organizing is a shared interest for many. But it’s often a struggle to find someone in your own organization who has the answer to a small but nagging software question, a good canvassing checklist, or a vendor recommendation. Good communities of practice exist, and should spread, beyond our narrow issue areas, geographic focus, and constituency boundaries.

We hope you’ll come to one or more days of Organizing New York not only to learn, teach, share and network, but also to see yourself as part of more communities of practice than you knew existed. Even if you only wanted to learn how to organize your sock drawer!

Three Tracks, Three Days

Our sessions are formally divided into three tracks: online organizing, civic engagement, and grassroots fundraising. Practically, many of them cross those boundaries – and that’s on purpose. It’s hard to pretend anymore that online tools and traditional organizing methodologies aren’t so completely interwoven that you can’t do one without the other.

Highlights

Software and Tech Training: Many of our organizations use NationBuilder, Salsa, CiviCRM, and the VAN. Our priority is to offer basic training sessions AND opportunities for more advanced folks to get help. Staff from NationBuilder and SalsaLabs are coming to the conference, and we’ll have many experts around who can try and solve some of those harder questions.

Strategy and Tactics: What is digital strategy? How to campaign in low turnout elections? Can your organization run a successful crowdfunding campaign?

Fundraising: Most fundraising trainings in New York are geared towards foundation fundraising.  We know that only about 12% of foundation funding goes to social justice groups.  We need to create a funding base in our own communities.  This track will offer some of the best experts in the region training on everything from building a volunteer fundraising group,  running amazing events, building your online fundraising capacity to creating asking (and receiving) big gifts.

Racial Justice: Sometimes, tech-oriented conferences skew towards white dudes. But our mission is to advance all our causes, and to prioritize issues that impact low-income communities, communities of color, women and queer people. This means highlighting and foregrounding experts from grassroots communities and making sure the conference is accessible to everyone.  This also means addressing racial justice explicitly in a session about grassroots fundraising for people of color and sessions on working with the Dominican, Puerto Rican and African American online communities. We’re also happy to announce that some sessions will be offered in Spanish, with others having simultaneous interpretation, that we will have child-care throughout the entire conference. We are working in partnership with base-building communities from across New York City and the region to move this from an idea into reality.

Workshops from the Community: Our third day is also called Rootscamp. That means it is part of a New Organizing Institute tradition of putting on ‘unconferences’ that feature workshops proposed by attendees that become participatory skill shares. We are using this page to solicit workshop proposals and to learn what the community values the most. Submit your proposal today, and on Sunday morning volunteers will assemble the day’s agenda based on feedback from the participants.

Camp Wellstone: Politics, how does it work? That’s a question often asked by activists trying to master the detailed specifics of running an election campaign or winning victories on issues during and after election campaigns. Camp Wellstone participants will spend most of their time together, learning from professional trainers. This is a highly sought after training and registration will close soon. Camp Wellstone uses the same registration page, but you can learn more about them here as well.

Faith: We are also running a special session on Friday for organizers from the faith community. If this is of interest to you because your nonprofit has a religious or interfaith affiliation, or you work from a strong faith perspective – please contact us at ony@organizing20.org for more details. This session will only be open to those who have pre-registered for it.

Organizing New York takes place March 22-24 at the United Federation of Teachers, 52 Broadway. Register here. A full schedule for Friday and Saturday is here. A listing of approved sessions appears below, though it is subject to change.

Please note we do have childcare – please let us know what your needs are. The venue is completely wheelchair accessible.

  • 501c3 and 501c4: How They Work and What Is the Difference
  • Campaigning in Low Turnout Elections (Both Online and Offline)
  • How to Scare Companies and Influence People Online.
  • Developing Effective Communications Strategy
  • Getting National Activists to Focus and Engage in Local Campaigns
  • How the NY State Legislature Works
  • How to Use Policy To Build Progressive Power
  • NYC Government Power and How It Works: Public Advocate, Council, Speaker, Mayor, etc.
  • Online Ads: When You Have No Money
  • Personal Stories That Drive Online Campaigns
  • Running Against the Machine
  • Special Events Planning 101 and 102
  • Winning Statewide Fights
  • A-thons
  • Best Practices in Data Management- Analyst Reportback
  • Building a Culture of Fundraising
  • Building a Fundraising Team: Volunteers, Boards and More….
  • Building Authentic Donor Relationships
  • Developing a Fundraising Plan
  • Fundraising From Your Membership Base
  • Grassroots Fundraising 101
  • How To Ask For A Gift
  • Online Fundraising 101 (with Spanish)
  • Parties for Fun and Profit
  • People of Color and Fundraising
  • Planning Your CrowdFunding Campaign
  • White People and Fundraising
  • Advanced Social Media Strategy
  • Building Engagement on Facebook for Your Organization
  • Easy Design Changes to Make Your Website More Engaging
  • Evangelizing Online Organizing Within Your Organization
  • Facebook 101
  • Google Analytics
  • How to Ensure That Your Web Project is a Complete Failure
  • How to Manage or Be a Social Media Volunteer Captain
  • Introduction To Digital Strategy
  • Making Video that Doesn’t Suck
  • Mobile Phone Organizing Strategies
  • Nationbuilder Training
  • NYC Online Local Politics

Sunday is Rootscamp!  The process to determine the rootscamp program has begun on the Google Moderator site and the final schedule will be determined on Sunday morning when we fill in “The Wall.”

You can vote on proposals such as these:

  • Place-based digital campaigns: It’s Not About Tools, It’s About People.
  • Integrating blogging, Facebook and Twitter to Mobilize and Get the Word Out
  • Advanced Excel for Analytics Strategy
  • Local online organizing: how unions, community organizations, and political campaigns can effectively use online organizing, even without a large budget.
  • Email Deliverability: How to make sure your supporters are actually seeing your awesome content. (for folks with mass email lists),
  • What to do when your city is drowning? Integrating climate justice into progressive struggles of all kinds in New York City – basically a discussion about how stopping climate change can connect all kinds of campaigns/struggles in NYC.
  • 0 to 200k in 6 months: how to get a Facebook page of the ground and make it viral. We’ll go over best practices for social media posts: type of content, time of day, whether to promote it, and tricks to get your posts noticed (+ a bit of analytics).
  • How do you stay independent from special interests while doing online activism ? Create and sustain an online campaign around social, economic, and legal issues that identifies special interests and steers clear of pitfalls of being co-opted.
  • What is NVDA (non-violent direct action)? How do you organize Civil Disobedience? amongst diverse communities and issues?
  • Panel on recent efforts to organize low income service workers – fast food, supermarket, car wash and others. Emphasize what has been learned about the utility of new tools, explain the organizing model.
  • Do you need a website where folks can build expertise, organize (start or join working groups), and take action (using lots of tools, resources and support along the way)? We can discuss pooling $$ 2 create an open source site 4 use by many groups.
  • Managing Difficult People, every organization has a problematic stakeholder. Participants are given scenarios where they take roles with the idea of keeping the stakeholder within the organization without alienating them.
  • Drupal 101: A completely easy workshop aimed at new Drupal users (not at developers). For folks learning to post and edit content in Drupal.
  • Healing: how do we incorporate more healing and dealing with trauma spaces within organizing. burn out is not just about workload but also the trauma folks are holding.
  • Social Media Metrics- or why it doesn’t matter how many followers you have- we’ll explore how we measure what matters- engagement and conversion to action
  • Pinterest: How best to use it in advocacy and electoral campaigns (case studies and brainstorming)
  • 0 to 200k in 6 months: how to get a Facebook page of the ground and make it viral. We’ll go over best practices for social media posts: type of content, time of day, whether to promote it, and tricks to get your posts noticed (+ a bit of analytics).
  • Former Congressman Major R. Owens headed NYC’s Poverty Program in the 60′s and 70′s. it was a landmark example of bringing the community to the decision table as a full partner. He would offer an important perspective as a conference speaker.
  • Targeted voter registration. How to target and use voter registration trends to your advantage. When is voter registration not necessary.
  • Student Organizing in New York State: How students in NY are getting engaged at a local and national level and how they are building power
  • Building solidarity: how do we do it? are the voices of those queer, trans, poc, youth, people with disabilities and immigrants represented? are these folks speaking for themselves? how do we build that organizing space?
  • What small actions can organizers take online to boost offline campaign / mobilization success?
  • In the heat of the moment: Coordinating Twitter in street guerilla protests. What happens if DHS jams the internet? Limitations and advantages of Twitter for direct action and disaster relief. Will the revolt be tweeted?
  • Developing Your Brand, this would be a workshop of organizers interested in presenting their cause/candidate to the outside world. It would be hands on where participants are given resource materials and asked to develop a brand.
  • Too many campaigns, news and information sources, and even contests require the public to participate on Facebook, which many smart or private activists refuse to ‘LIKE’.How to create an effective and/or viral on-line presence WITHOUT using Facebook.
  • 9/11-Katrina-Sandy: How Govt recovery funding/agency oversight is demographically/politically/geographically biased. How delay & improperly regulated response endangers health of recovery workers & the public.
  • “How Facebook Helped Win Gay Marriage” Digital and social media played a crucial role in changing marriage from a losing issue to a winning one. Come learn what worked, what didn’t and what’s next.
  • Organizing Faith Based Committees, faith leaders have huge reach, organizing them into a political group can help progressive candidates win elections. Led by proven faith based organizers this could help conference goers move into new areas.

Introducing: Organizing New York – March 22-24

We’re very excited about the next big training conference. Here’s a very rapid summary of what you want to know.

Important pages and links:

Current partners and sponsors include Working Families, Civic Engagement Table, Wellstone Action, Rootscamp, & Democracy for America. Stay tuned for more!

Location is United Federation of Teachers, 52 Broadway, New York City. (Right by Wall St.)

This is a skill sharing conference. We have three main subject areas: online organizing, advocacy and campaigning & grassroots fundraising.

Wellstone Action will be putting a special Camp Wellstone as part of this event. Registration for Camp Wellstone will be done separately.

Finding Your Place With Occupy Wall Street: A Guide for Digital Strategists & Online Organizers

The Occupy Wall Street movement, now in its second month, is a protest force of nature. Unions, progressive organizations, community organizers, even big ‘D’ Democrats are coming out in support. If your nonprofit or political organization hasn’t come out with a public position on the #occupy movement, maybe you should check for a pulse.

But never mind our organizational homes. As individuals we can jump right in without further ado. And what better way than with our skill sets as digital strategists, online organizers, social media gurus, and branding experts? Unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Joining the movement can be a challenge. Existing systems are designed with full time occupiers in mind, not volunteers with an hour, a day, or a specific task in mind.

So here’s a guide, by a digital strategist, for digital strategists. If I’ve missed some useful tips, add them below.

The Organization of the Occupation
This description is based on the Wall St. crowd, but my understanding is that others are following similar models. While all major decisions are made by General Assemblies, most of the activists, including full- and part-timers, are part of Working Groups. Working Groups might be meeting more than once a week. Those meetings might not be efficient or accessible to newcomers. Still you’ll want to join one or more that make sense for your interests, and start digging in to any documents they’ve posted online and listening to the conversation on their listserv. Finding WG’s is easy for the Wall Street folks, might be harder for other cities. There is an effort to standardize names of WG’s across occupation.

The Internet and Open Source Working Groups
Here in New York, we have an Internet Working Group (IWG) and a Free/Libre/Open Source Working Group (FLO). The former has mostly worked on developing the main website for internal coordination, www.nycga.net. This site will continue to evolve in ways that serve specific working groups, and developer help is much appreciated. The FLO folks are promoting ‘open sourcism’ as an embodiment of the true principles of the #occupy movement. They also work on the tech infrastructure: hosting, servers, LDAP, a future CRM, wiki and more. The vision is not just to assist #OWS with tech solutions, but to create replicable, robust and secure systems available for all occupations, in the U.S. and around the world. They also welcome your help. A number of core team members are part of both WG’s.

On-Boarding for Newbies
Unfortunately, it’s been hard for the IWG and the FLO peeps to incorporate new people and new ideas. New ideas, even good ones, represent a challenge because of the pressure of uncompleted, previously agreed upon tasks. Some of the best work done by techies in support of the movement is being carried out by free agents (www.occupytogether.org) and outside/inside coalitions (www.occupytheboardroom.org) that don’t even try to interface with formal working groups. That said, a corner has been turned, and there are now systems in place to make it easier to onboard new volunteers – and even new ideas.

Start Here
If you want to help, fill out the volunteer form for the Internet WG. If you want to propose something you’ve come up with, read this post first or you might come across as an egotistic time-waster. Finally, learn more about developments already underway at the wiki. (It’s not as complete as it should be.) Be aware, that the project management tool Redmine is being used to track projects. Github is being used to manage development. There are listservs for all the WG’s, and for even smaller things like the Digital Strategy Team within the Internet WG that I joined.  (Follow the links above, and you’ll reach the proper signup pages.)

That said, as an online organizer I’ve noticed that the IWG and FLO teams are full of web developers, sysadmins and coders. Not small dollar fundraisers, CRM experts, digital marketers and solutions consultants. That crowd is likely to wonder where the official public facing website is, or why no one seems to be taking advantage of SalsaLabs generous offer of free services.  (Or the offer of a certain text messaging vendor….) As of this writing, no one seems to have the ability to send mass emails outside of a Googlegroup or Riseup listserv.

There are tech savvy organizers around (I’m refraining from mentioning names, but you’ve heard of them or their firms/organizations!) They seem to be attracted to the top level strategy questions involving press, media, and tactics for nonviolent direct action planning. I’ve also heard an argument firmly against the use of email list based organizing by #OccupyWallStreet. Who would write those emails? What messages could ‘the movement’ agree on, given the anti-hierarchical bias and refusal to issue specific demands?

While not all the organizers are young, or inexperienced, the vast majority associate CRM enabled organizing with groups like MoveOn or the Obama campaign. Liberals tainted by their focus on electoral or mainstream politics. Many associate the tools with top-down organizing, the antithesis of the General Assembly process.Personally, I think that position is incorrect. The ‘movement’ is using CRM all the time, as then they raised money on Kickstarter or chose Googlegroups as the primary listserv tool. They just aren’t using their own CRM, or taking advantage of all the possibilities.

An emerging area where expertise is needed is in technical strategy more generally. For example: the accounting team was overwhelmed by the needs for trasparency and basic bookkeeping. An expert in nonprofit administration have been able to help with software suggestions. The Outreach Working Group is engaged in marketing, to be sure, but they aren’t far along in developing their marketing strategy. Given limited resources, which communications should be directed at which groups for the most immediate benefit? Great questions.

The bottom line is, you don’t need to be physically present to contribute important online organizing skills to the movement. And you don’t have to start something on your own. If you’d like to understand more of what’s going on, feel free to reach out to me – I’m easy to find.