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.

OPIRG York is joining Tools for Change

EXCITING NEWS!

OPIRG York has joined Tools for Change! Tools for Change helps you develop skills to advocate for social change- this is one of OPIRG’s objectives as well, so it’s fitting we join the Tools for Change team.

Tools for Change [...]

Tools for Change is hiring a coordinator. You interested?

 Tools for Change is hiring a coordinator

Interested?

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.

Position Description

This position plays a key [...]

Watch the AFL-CIO’s new social media training series

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 [...]

Activist Advisor responds: How many signatures do I need to win my online petition?

Q. How many signatures do I need to win my online petition?

Thanks to Lauryn Drainie for answering this all-too-common question. Lauryn Drainie is a Senior Campaigner at Change.org in Canada.  Change.org is the world’s largest petition platform with over 70 [...]

What workshops do you want us to organize?

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: [...]

How do you nix bad action ideas? Activist advisor responds

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 [...]

A quick case study: Why did our TTCriders sardine award competition get so much media attention?

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 [...]

Top 10 Activist Stories for 2013

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. [...]

Our Certificate Program in Social Change

Register for the certificateAbout our certificate program in social changeF.A.Q.s Tweet Register for Tools for Change's Certificate Program in Social Change We have introduced a certificate program so our frequent participants can receive recognition for their dedication to improving their social change skills. If you are interested in participating in the program then please follow [...]

We like Movement Strategy Centre’s new blog site called “Let’s Talk”

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 [...]

About us

A project of George Brown College’s Community Action CentreOPIRG TorontoEarthroots, and Greenpeace Canada, Tools for Change helps you develop skills to advocate for social change.  The project began in 2010.

We organize approximately 20 trainings in Toronto throughout [...]

Leading Change Network shares useful resources and hosts great trainings

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 [...]

Fill in our survey and help Tools for Change choose its workshops for the coming year

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 [...]

Mob Lab profiles Tools for Change

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 [...]

Five Things I Wish I Knew When I First Became Politically Active

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 [...]

New Organizing Institute

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 [...]

Campaign case studies

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 [...]

Tips on how to organize rallies and marches

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 [...]

Group Decision-Making Guide for Activists

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. [...]

TechSoup Canada is making its mark

Consulting non-profit group, Tech Soup Canada has a great list of resources on its website:

Check out the learning centre page, which includes articles ranging from redesigning your website to dealing with computers, servers and networks.

I also enjoy reading [...]

New Ruckus Society How-to Guide on Strategic Direct Action

Check out this nice little brochure for people interested in designing creative direct actions.   The booklet was developed by  myself (Jessica Bell) and Joshua Kahn Russell, as well as Ruckus Society staff Sharon Lungo and Megan Swoboda.  (And thank you [...]

A look at the most effective online techniques to advocate for social change

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 [...]

Angela Bischoff’s guest blog post about our sustainable activism workshop

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. [...]

Occupy NYC organizer shares her tips on avoiding activist burnout

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.

It [...]

VSO Guide Book on Participatory Advocacy

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 [...]

Best practice petition-writing

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 [...]

Seeds of Change Consensus Decision-Making Handout

Seeds of Change has developed a neat consensus decision-making guide.  The practical guide covers the basics, including:

an overview of the consensus process consensus in small and large groups and trouble-shooting issues, such as dealing with difficult people.

The one small issue [...]

Beth’s case study on SFT’s amazing social media fundraising drive

This post comes directly from Beth Kanter, social change guru and trainer extraordinaire.

I donated to Students for Free Tibet during their fundraising drive in 2008.  SFT’s fundraiser, Melanie Raoul, walked up to me (and everyone else at this training we [...]

Democracy Center releases guide on corporate campaigning

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 [...]

Rally Organizing

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Check out witness.org’s great “how-to” section on video activism

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 [...]

New Tools for Change Handout on Facilitation

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 [...]

New campaign planning handbook for Canadian union activists

The Toronto & York Region Labour Council has just published Mike Balkwill and Rob Fairley’s campaign planning guide for activist leaders and union organizers.

Download Mike and Rob’s “The Campaign Planning Handbook”.

Written by and for activists, the beautifully designed and pragmatic 32 [...]

Outreach and recruitment tools

The crew from Beyond the Choir have just created a series of tools for the Occupy movement.  I’m impressed.

I like OccupyWinning’s one page PDF called “Three Tips For Plugging People In”.  The beauty of this handout is that the authors [...]

Workshop on social media for activists (part 1)

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.

Three principles

1. Social media is not an end to itself.  We should remind ourselves [...]

Campaign Planning Tools

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 [...]

Report Back on Tools for Change’s Media 201 Workshop

On October 15, Jen Angel from Aid and Abet Booking, led a workshop on media strategy 201. Since this workshop was geared to more experienced activists, Jen didn’t cover the basics, like writing press releases and media advisories.  (All that valuable [...]

Corporate Campaigning

 

It’s rare to find a guide written for campaigners on how to transform industry sectors.  Well, here it is.  Written by Nicholas Hildyard and Mark Mansley of the Cornerhouse, this 200-page guide summarises the strategies  that have proven to be effective.  Although [...]

Assessing the Landscape

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 [...]

Introduction to Action Scouting

Whether you are planning a march, a sit-down, a picket, a meeting disruption, a banner, or a blockade, it is often important to check out the location in advance. Scouting the location well can help you plan an action that is [...]

350.org Education Program on Media and Organizing

First off, 350.org is brilliant at mobilizing people across the planet to take action on climate change. Now the brilliant innovators at 350.org have just developed a new program offering workshops on media and organizing.

Their new website has downloadable resources [...]

Facilitation workshop 201

Sat. Nov. 19, 11am – 5pm

This workshop will address the challenges of facilitating debates about tactics, strategy and other priorities. Participants are encouraged to arrive with specific challenges they have or are navigating in their activist work.  This workshop is [...]

Facilitation workshop 101

Sat. Nov 5, 1pm – 4pm

A major part of movement building is lots of meetings. Meetings can be inspiring, hellish, or somewhere in between. The quality of a meeting depends a lot on good facilitation. Facilitators aren’t supposed to run [...]

Media Strategy 201

Sat. Oct. 15, 1pm – 5pm

You have already written a number of successful press releases, and done interviews for your group. You know what it takes to get media for an event, but you want to step back and look [...]

Six Great Social Media and Tech Websites For Activists

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 [...]

Dismantling Racism

Dismantling Racism is an excellent organization committed to anti-racist and anti-oppressive training.

I greatly enjoy the honesty and practicality of their resources.   Check out Tema Okun’s handout on “White Supremacy Culture”. Until reading that article I had no idea that [...]

Campaign Planning Guides

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 [...]

Campaign Goal Setting

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. [...]

Fundraising House Party Style

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 [...]

Executing Your Tactic

350.org action-planning guide 350 developed a very simple one-page nine-step guide to planning actions. It’s quite useful when executing basic tactics.

And here’s a list of possible roles and responsibilities you might want to include when planning a protest or other confrontational actions. [...]

New Security Culture Guide

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 [...]

Need help deciding what tactic is best for you?

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 [...]

Creative tactic ideas

198 Tactics
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.

Handout on meeting facilitation

Berit Lakey has written a simple four-page document that outlines the basics of facilitation, including roles, steps to prepare for a meeting, and evaluating meetings.
It’s a great handout to distribute at facilitation trainings.

The Tyranny of Structurelessness

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 [...]

GreenCorps Field School in Environmental Organizing

Greencorps
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 [...]

The SPIN Project

Through their leadership academy, SPIN provides training in strategic communications for activists and non-profits at very reasonable prices.  Based in California, but their resources and advice are relevant for people across North America.

SPIN’s guide books are useful and practical. Check [...]

Smart Meme

Smart Meme
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.

Centre for Third World Organizing

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

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.

Movement elder, Marshall Ganz, shares his organizing wisdom

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 [...]

Social Change Movement Theories

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 [...]

Chris Rose’s Campaign Strategy Website

Chris Rose’s Campaign Strategy
Based in the UK, Chris Rose, an ex-Greenpeace campaigner, writes easy-to-understand and insightful books, has a great resource-intensive website, and still issues frequent newsletters on the topic of campaign strategy for activists.  Most of his work is [...]

Fundraising for Social Change

Kim Klein

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 [...]

Story-based Strategy to Win Campaigns

Doyle Canning and Patrick Reinsborough

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.

 

NGLTF Organizing Resources

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 [...]

Progressive Communicators Network

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.

 

Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training

The Grassroots Institute for Fundraising Training is a fantastic group committed to helping groups raise money, survive, and thrive. Offers trainings, and produces articles, and a fundraising journal. For a sample, read founder Kim Klein’s article “How to raise $2500 in 10 days”. [...]