Growing and engagement
Successful movements don’t overpower their opponents; they gradually undermine their opponents’ support. Start at the receptive end of your spectrum, working your way through higher and higher thresholds of resistance. In other words, begin by mobilizing your active allies and core supporters. Reach out to passive supporters, and then bring neutral groups over to your side. Once you start winning over the passive opposition, you’re on the brink of victory.
Active, passive and core membership: What are they?
Core Membership is exactly as it sounds. A group of 10 – 20 people that are the core of your group. They will help organise events, run social media, maintain your website, produce leaflets and the faces of the movement. They are the cogs of the organisation and it would not function without them.
Active memberships are people that attend speeches/non arrestable events. They do not organise events or have a priority role in the organisation but are willing to march during protests and show that there is a need for the priority you are fighting for.
Passive membership is when someone supports the movement but has not participated in an action you have organised. They generally are supportive online and through peer to peer discussions. To grow your organisation, converting these passive members to active members is crucial.
The membership dilemma
Your core membership should be the easiest group of people to notice. They should be as motivated as you and have enough free time to contribute to running the organisation. You need to find out their talents and abilities and assign a role that they would have the greatest impact on (coder should be assigned to website creation and maintenance, background in politics should be policy advisor, Social media manager should manage social media etc…). Try to assign two or more people to a role to split responsibility.
A role that should be available is activist, they should attend as many events as possible and become a jack of all trades. Activism is not a full-time job so people will not be able to commit 100% of their time so ensuring that people can fill into roles with as smooth of a transition as possible can increase efficiency.
Active members support you on the streets and on social media but will not be the most radical members of your group. Maintain contact with them by posting on Social media and updating them on what you are doing AND by having “mini actions” in the weeks leading up to the event. This will motivate them to attend events and therefore show the system that there is public support for the movement These “mini actions” consist of sticker bombing, canvassing, holding introduction events where you explain your movement and why people should get involved around the city. Extinction Rebellions build up events to their .((first London Bridge Shutdown) is the best example of this In conclusion, a spontaneous march with little awareness will not gather enough people for your movement to work. Have mini actions before hand that get the attention of the media and general public increase turnout!
Passive membership are the people who recognise that the movement is trying to create positive change in society but have no interest in action. Converting them to the cause requires the long-term breakdown of that inaction. The resultant consequence could be simply just voting or signing a petition. All you need is to for them to show that they agree with you, that they do not support the opposing system. This is the hardest membership base to measure but generally there is a correlation between an increase in active and passive support.
The path to victory is not to create a coalition through awkward comprises, but rather to develop your values with such clarity that you persuade others to join your cause. Empires fall not because people oppose them, but because they find their support eroded. To win, you need to convince others to defect.
- The Correspondent, a news organisation of Dutch origin, has created an open platform on engaging people with journalism. Although the site focusses on news organisations and not on activist movements, there might still be some useful information: https://membershippuzzle.org