Tools for Change posts resources on our website to help you access valuable information on a whole range of important topics.
Do you want to write a guest blog post for our website so you can share your expertise with our community? If so, please contact us at [email protected] with your blog post idea. Put “Guest Post” in the subject line.
Tools for Change is hiring a coordinator
Tools for Change is seeking an organized and collaborative person who is committed to providing training and capacity building to activists and building Toronto’s social movements.
This position plays a key [...]
Our friends down south at the AFL-CIO have developed a fantastic media training series for union communicators. The series has beginner, intermediate and advanced workshop topics. The series is free for folks affiliated with the AFL-CIO, and focuses on very specific and practical skills. Thanks [...]
Complete our survey and tell us what workshops you want Tools for Change to organize this coming 2014/2015 year. Tools for Change organizes your most requested workshop topics. We are taking your feedback until Monday the 23rd of June.
Fill in the survey here: [...]
Q. I am in a grassroots chapter group. I need advice on how to manage planning meetings when fellow members propose action ideas that are unrealistic and unstrategic. I already have a lot of informal power because I am a staff person for the national [...]
Last month, the awesome folks at TTCriders organized a photo competition, where TTC users were encouraged to take a photo of their overcrowded commute (hence the sardines reference) and send it to us. We then chose the best photo and converted it into an award [...]
Here is my (Jessica Bell’s) take on the top 10 activist stories of 2013, in no particular order. Let these victories be an antidote to cynicism, hopelessness and apathy. Activism works. Activists win. Looking forward to seeing what’s in store for 2014. [...]
Thank you to Levana Saxon for posting an article about Movement Strategy Centre’s new blog site called “Let’s Talk”. I immediately started digging in.
Based in the bay area, the Movement Strategy Centre helps build collaborative and sustainable social movements. Pretty cool hey! Their blog allows [...]
The Leading Change network has ramped up its presence and is rocking it. The Leading Change network was founded by former farmworkers union organizer, Marshall Ganz, and is based out of Harvard University.
This post provides you with some basic information about the network [...]
Tools for Change wants you to fill in our survey so we can choose workshops that are useful to you and your group. We take your feedback and organize the most popular workshop topics. We usually organize about 20 workshops a year. Workshops range from [...]
Read Mobilization Lab’s report on Tools for Change. The goal of this article is to inform others who might be interested in starting up a similar group in their area. Thank you Anna Keenan for your article.
If you’re an activist in Toronto, you probably [...]
At this year’s awesome George Brown College Labour Fair Conference, I (Jessica Bell) gave a presentation that outlined five things I wish I knew when I first became politically active. What do you think of what I’ve learned? What have you learned that [...]
Based in the United States, the New Organizing Institute is a training program run by organizers for organizers. Heavily geared to election campaigns, the organization hosts trainings on campaign strategy, online organizing, online communications, political technology, new media, and testing/evaluation. Sign [...]
Sometimes the best way to learn about campaigning is to review case studies of successful and unsuccessful campaigns. Campaigning, after all, is not a simple 1+1=2 activity. It’s complicated, and real life campaign case studies can do a decent job of unveiling the nature of [...]
Thanks to Tools for Change trainer and NOII Toronto organizer, Syed Hussan, for this guest blog post.
Protests are an integral and necessary part of our social movements. They are the means to assert power, to take power, to pressure a target and to [...]
There’s a difference between facilitation and decision-making. Facilitators work within the boundaries of the decision-making structure that exists within a group, be it hierarchy, consensus or spokescouncil structures. I find there’s limited content or workshops on decision-making, even though it’s such a crucial subject. [...]
This excellent post was written by Kyle Henri Andrei and funded by the Annie E Casey Foundation.
Advocacy organizations often encourage their grassroots supporters to influence politicians and corporations using different methods, from promoting a cause or opposing legislation to challenging ad campaigns or policies. A [...]
On Jan. 26, 2012, thirty folks sat in a circle and shared what they were most passionate about – bicycles, pets, potlucks, green energy, climate change, gender rights, First Nations solidarity, changing the world.
But passion without limits can lead to burn-out. We’re all susceptible. [...]
This article was written by Occupy organizer, Cheyenna Weber. It’s a nice read. Thank you for writing this essay Cheyenna. For those in Toronto Tools for Change is hosting a workshop on avoiding activist burnout on Thursday January 26th, 6.30pm – 8.30pm.
VSO is an international development agency that relies on volunteers. The organization has developed a beautifully designed guide called “Participatory Advocacy” to help its network of volunteers harness the power of advocacy. Thanks Jen Muldoon for sending this guide to us.
The holistic [...]
Change.org is one of those advocacy organizations that specializes in gathering signatures online in order to secure victories for people and causes alike. The organization is very good at it what it does, and its success is being recognized. Non-profits can pay Change.org to [...]
The Democracy Center has just published a free downloadable 55 page guide called “Beating Goliath: a resource for corporate campaigners.”
I think this “Beating Goliath” guide does a very good job at selling the strategy of corporate campaigning and also explaining [...]
Witness has built an absolutely fantastic section on their website that is dedicated to helping other activists harness the power of video. Founded by the musician, Peter Gabriel, Witness has been training activists to use video to document human rights abuse for nearly [...]
This Tools for Change Handout on Facilitation was compiled by myself (Jessica Bell). The content was developed by Leah Henderson and I while we were preparing for the two workshops on facilitation we hosted earlier this year. There’s a lot of facilitation guides [...]
The Toronto & York Region Labour Council has just published Mike Balkwill and Rob Fairley’s campaign planning guide for activist leaders and union organizers.
Written by and for activists, the beautifully designed and pragmatic 32 [...]
Last week I hosted a workshop on social media and advocacy. Here’s a write up of the first section of this workshop. More to come in the coming days.
1. Social media is not an end to itself. We should remind ourselves [...]
The Midwest Academy has a helpful guide is geared for facilitators who want to help their group or a group think through their campaign plan. I like how this guide is geared towards helping a specific group (which helps you, the reader, see [...]
It is useful for campaigners to assess their political landscape as they go about setting their goals, and re-evaluating their plan.
The Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) framework is useful for helping you assess your political landscape. This framework was originally developed for the [...]
FIRST, A BIT OF CONTEXT.
I don’t think social media tools are the magic bullet! If you’re in doubt, read Malcolm Gladwell’s article “The Revolution will not be Tweeted“. Gladwell argues that facebook, twitter and other online tools build weak ties between a lot [...]
Spitfire Strategies has released a campaign planning guide called “The Just Enough Planning Guide A Roadmap to Help Nonprofits Reach Their Campaign Goals” Spitfire Communications Strategies“.
The author, Grimm, sells the guide as having the minimal amount of information you need to effectively [...]
Choosing a goal is often the first step to creating a campaign plan. But we shouldn’t just choose a goal out of thin air. It’s often wise to develop a set of criteria that you can use to evaluate a list of possible campaign goals. [...]
House parties typically involve someone in the campaign or organization – think board member or active volunteer – hosting a one to two hour party at their house to raise money and recruit volunteers and allies to the cause. People are encouraged to bring [...]
I wrote a guide on security culture with Dan Spalding. Dan and I are both affiliated with the Ruckus Society. Thank you Jacob Conroy for designing the guide. We wanted to create a guide specifically for non-violent direct action campaign groups. We also [...]
This is a great handout that you can print out and use to help you and group think through what action or tactic might be useful for your campaign. It’s a great tool for facilitators as well. Basically the tool asks you a [...]
Non-violent theorist, Gene Sharp, developed a list of 198 action tactics groups use to advance social change. This handout is useful when you’re trying to devise a creative action idea. Google the action if you don’t know what it means.
Freeman wrote “The Tyranny of Structurelessness” in response to her experience as an activist in the feminist movement in the 70s.
At that time, many radical feminist groups did away with formal governance structures, and moved to a fluid informal decision-making process that [...]
Pre-eminent year-long training and internship organizing field school and placement program for young graduates who seek careers in the environmental movement. Very U.S. centric, however, nothing’s stopping you from taking those skills and heading north. Many leaders of U.S. environmental NGOs [...]
Based in SF and Boston, but operating nationally, Smart Meme specializes in teaching activists how to harness the power of the media and story-telling. They also teach campaign strategy. Smart Meme has wicked smart and dedicated trainers.
The Center for Third World Organizing (CTWO, pronounced “C-2″) is a racial-justice organization dedicated to building a social-justice movement led by people of color. The organization was established in 1980 as a training and resource center that promotes and sustains direct-action organizing in [...]
The Change Agency is located in Australia so the workshops are not super accessible for Canadians, however, the website contains an amazing amount of useful information, including case studies, training guides, resources, and more.
Marshall Ganz is one great social movement elder. He organized with Caser Chavez to build the United Farm Workers of America Union in the 1960s. He helped set the grassroots strategy that underpinned Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. And Ganz has also spent the [...]
Marge Piercy has written a neat poem titled “What is a Social Movement?”
It goes on one at a time
It starts when you care
To act, it starts when you do it again after
They said no
It starts when [...]
Fundraising for Social Change has become one of the most widely used books on fundraising in the United States. Fundraising practitioners and activists rely on it for hands-on, specific, and accessible fundraising techniques. this book is catered to groups with [...]
Insightful book on the power of narrative in campaigning. Offers tools on how to apply techniques like story telling, framing, and messaging to your work. Geared to people with experience doing media and campaigning.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) has fantastically pragmatic resources on recruiting and mobilizing volunteers. Geared for ballot initiatives, but applicable to all intensive campaigning efforts, their resources are well worth a perusal. The NGLTF houses one of the best organizing departments in [...]
The Progressive Communicators Network offers practical website training, advice, and guides to help harness the power of the media, from website 2.0, to media justice, to media strategy. Celia Alario works through the Progressive Communicators Network, and she is awesome.