TON Newsletter - Jan 27, 2021

Welcome to Tectonica Organising Network’s twice-monthly newsletter! We work hard to curate and create the best content out there on progressive digital organising and share it with you, along with some updates on upcoming events and training, what we’ve been up to, and even a bit about what’s going on on the other side.

What to expect in the field of digital organising in 2021

Contributors: Weronika Paszewska and Ned Howey

We believe that our influence on reality starts with imagining it and letting ourselves dream about how the future can look like. So we have done it for the digital organising field, as this one is the closest to our hearts. We wonder how this year will end and where we all will be in December 2021. Today we expect and also have hope that by the end of this year we will be able to say that there are four areas in digital organising that we observe tremendous growth. Read about What To Expect In The Field Of Digital Organising In 2021.

What Bernie’s viral memes really tell us about us?

Contributor: Weronika Paszewska

It was hard to predict that the main character and news at the same time, from the US presidential inauguration, will be Bernie Sanders. The last couple of days gave us much needed laugh and fun. One could say that after what this world experienced under Trump’s administration, it was unavoidable, kind of, communal psychotherapy. Through various explanations, you can find once that see in Bernie everyman and his struggles or try to explain political symbol and meaning of it - Naomi Klein even crafted a term mittenology for that. The last point Klein is making refers to decentralized movements of movements and that this movement is watching and is ready to raise if Biden’s administration fails on providing Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, student debt cancellation, or many more.

  • We strive to have leaders who are like us - who can feel cold (Bernie’s posture), who prioritize their wellbeing and body (Bernie’s mittens and clothes), who have other stuff in their mind (Bernie’s envelope and mobile call). Distributed organising is the good answer to that - it builds on shared leadership that is super close to people and their communities.
  • We desperately search for authenticity among politicians - most of them lack it for a long time. That was also one of the reasons Trump was so popular - he was the darkest things people have in their minds. We want to keep politicians close to us, expect and demand contact and interaction from them as well as honest answers to our questions. These can be achieved through organising.
  • We want to co-create and have fun - Last pandemic year and in general dreadful challenges we face in the world right now, are sometimes too much for us to handle. We deserve to have fun and our activist and political lives don’t need to be missing it. Digital organising, prioritizing getting to know each other and shared activities, have a perfect answer for this need.

It might seem a bit like organising is an answer to everything. Maybe it is?

What We’ve Been Up To

Virtual meeting for community brainstorm on activities and metrics for digital organising

One of the things we expect to happen in 2021, in the field of digital organising, is progress and popularization of reliable metrics for this area of campaigning. To be a part of this change, on 11th February, we are hosting a virtual community gathering to brainstorm together and create a list of activities in the spectrum of fully decentralised organising and supporter-based organising. We will also be finding out together what metrics will serve us the best in this area. If you are interested, please RSVP so you receive further information

Half days training to support your digital organising efforts

We are preparing to launch a series of half-day training in 2021 concentrating on digital organising skills and competencies. Based on our “The State of Digital Organising in Europe 2020” report, the lack of best practices and education is one of the key barriers for European organisations to develop successful organising programs. Fill in a short survey and let us know which one you would be interested in attending and what topics you find the most interesting.


Featured Digital Organising Tools


Contributor: Alonso Hernandez

Building a people-powered movement is about human connection and communication that supports it. The most effective way, to ensure it, is to get back to your supporters within a 48-hours window, whenever they write to you. A crucial thing is to implement a system that will allow you to manage incoming messages fast and efficiently. It has been demonstrated how this makes long term engagement skyrocket.

E.G. Jose Nunez, Director of Digital Organizing of the Biden’s Campaigns stated here the importance of “Making sure every supporter was responded to, including through our [email protected] email inbox”.

However, as your campaign grows, this can become increasingly difficult. You will need tools that allow you to organize that input flow in an efficient way and coordinate each response with dispatch, and of course, a coordinated team of people (campaign team, trusted/trained supporters/volunteers/members) who can handle these first conversations with care.

If Gmail is your email client software, Streak can help a lot in this process. It is an interesting tool designed to set up a CRM just on top of your emails. This means you can configure follow-up pipelines, assign tasks (yes, you can pass conversations to different members of your organisation), and organize relationship building in an advanced way.

Our proposal is that it can be used to help in an easy way to move conversations through the different pipelines that we need to happen in our organizations to make sure that we do not lose any opportunity to channel people with what they may be most interested in, volunteering, becoming members, donating, being informed, voting for us, etc.

Do you have an [email protected] email account in your organization that nobody is taking care of? The Streak could help to make the most value of it. Let us know if you try this out.

What We're Reading

Campaigning in 2021, 19 January 2021, thinking, doing, changing.

If you want to start 2021 with a fresh perspective, this is a truly inspirational piece.

Stacey Abrams has used an Excel spreadsheet to track her life goals since she was 18 -- why it's been crucial to her success, 24 March 2020, CNBC MAKE IT

Really nice example of how low-tech solutions can have an amazing impact. We should remember that the way we use tech is much more important than chasing the fancy thing. In our in-depth interviews for the Report on the State of Digital Organising Report in Europe, almost every single interviewee indicated that the tool they most relied on for their work is Google Drive.

Activists use relational organizing to push for reusable COVID masks, January 15 2021, DEMLABS BLOG

An inspirational story of how relational organising in the COVID times can for climate justice.

What's next? The campaign may be over, but your work has just begun, January 15 2021, New/Mode Blog

A couple of good reminders on how to maintain momentum in between campaigns. I.e.: nurturing the path of engagement, offering donation asks, using conditional targeting, remembering about proper follow-ups.

[Facebook Study] What 10,596,877 Video Posts Tell Us About Facebook Video Strategy in 2020, May 27 2020, Social Insider

In with the new: What to send to your donors in January, December 15 2020, Blue State

The enduring allure of conspiracies,, 19 January 2021, NiemanLab

What We’re Listening to

Podcast Series: NGO Soul + Strategy with Tosca Bruno-Van Vijfeijken - Really good pieces on feminist leadership and in-depth conversations.


Global Right-Wing Extremism Networks Are Growing. The U.S. Is Just Now Catching Up., 22 January 2021, ProPublica


Upcoming Trainings & Events

Higher Ground Labs: 2021 Open Call, application deadline March 1, 2021

Are you working on a technology start-up that can help progressives win elections and advance progressive causes? The invited start-ups will join a vibrant community of 30+ startups that have reshaped the political technology landscape and will receive investment capital and access to an intensive 4-month program in the field. Apply here.

MilkCrate First Annual Ugly Spreadsheet Contest, submission deadline February 1, 2021

MilkCrate welcomes all nonprofits in the US to enter their hard to comprehend spreadsheet for tracking a nonprofit’s program participation data, for the chance to win free consultative services! Enter the contest here.

Unicorn Fund: Nomination for 2021 Cohort, closes January 31, 2021 at 11:59 PM ET

Unicorn Fund is an experimental award program that is looking to support under-resourced grassroots leaders in the US, who are facing recent offline or online attacks. Help them find a Unicorn! Submit your nomination here.


UK, remote: Community Organiser, Mothers' Climate Action Network!

Apply now!

Any country: Engagement and Networks Head, World Green Building Council

Apply now!

Washington, DC: Digital Engagement Manager and Deputy/ Deputy Director, Program and Research, Feed the Truth

Apply now!

Remote PST: part-time Digital Director, Climate Hawks Vote Civic Action

Apply now!

London, UK: Senior Digital Communications Officer, Greater London Authority’s digital communications programme

Apply now!

Negotiable within the US: Campaign Director, Free Press

Apply now!