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.


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.