TON Newsletter - Nov 11, 2020

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 trainings, what we’ve been up to, and even a bit about what’s going on on the other side.

Dear TON,

I’m sure many of you are as relieved as we are to be on the other side of the U.S. elections with Biden as the clear winner (notwithstanding the ramblings of some still in power). But despite the ‘blue wave’ many pundits predicted, and that many of us were hoping for, Democrats underperformed against our hopes and expectations in both the House and Senate races. There is definitely no dearth of opinions as to why we didn’t do better, but we believe AOC identified at least one important part of the problem:

If you’re not door-knocking, if you’re not on the internet, if your main points of reliance are TV and mail, then you’re not running a campaign on all cylinders. I just don’t see how anyone could be making ideological claims when they didn’t run a full-fledged campaign. [The Democratic] party isn’t even online, not in a real way that exhibits competence. And so, yeah, they were vulnerable to [Republican messaging], because they weren’t even on the mediums where these messages were most potent. Sure, you can point to the message, but they were also sitting ducks. They were sitting ducks.

In essence, we aren’t fulfilling the potential of digital organising. Even before the pandemic hit, people were spending more time than ever online. Social distancing has only made that more true; many of us are looking for ways to connect to people on the internet. Virtual communities are growing at a pace social media platforms have a hard time managing, and many organisations on the left haven’t developed the expertise on how to use digital to successfully grow their movements.

Our recently released report on the State of Digital Organising in Europe revealed a similar problem on this side of the pond as well: very few organisations are engaged in digital organising and we’re losing important ground. So where do we go from here? We’ll be hosting a roundtable discussion this Thursday to think creatively about how to move forward to help our movements win online (more info in our Events section below).

Hope you’ll join us!

Team Tectonica

What We’ve Been Up To

People don’t become Activists Because of a Cause. (And That Gives me Hope.)

Progressives are often so focussed on making the case for our causes that we neglect true relationship building with and amongst our supporters. In this latest blog post, our CEO Ned Howey argues that belonging and social connection are the key to building sustainable movements and gives the step by step on how to put it into practice in the digital age.

Featured Digital Organising Tools

Progressive Acts

The need for strengthening democracy is one of the key challenges that we as progressive citizens are facing in recent years. Developing technologies that allow under-resourced candidates to ignite their campaigns, meaning democratising regular people's access to run for elections, is a beautiful way to strengthen the democratic process. But also very important are technologies that make it easier to democratise the funding of those campaigns.

We've seen ActBlue do exactly that in the last few U.S. elections, allowing grassroots fundraising efforts and small-dollar donors to play a definitive role in Biden’s victory and have a huge impact on his fundraising success. Read more about the importance of ActBlue in the elections.

This is also why we love Progressive Acts, a ‘crowd-change’ platform that provides innovative and progressive European candidates with an easy-to-use and bright toolset to collect donations, recruit volunteers, and spread their message. All of these features help candidates with less resources to lower the entrance barriers to the needed tech, and with that creates the possibility for small-euro donors to take a more proactive role in campaigns.

We celebrate Progressive Acts' resemblance to ActBlue and are thrilled to see a tech effort of this kind happening in Europe. As our recently issued European Report showed us, there's a huge need for European progressive innovation efforts in campaigning tech and tactics to solve issues specific to Europe in order to empower European democracy and citizen participation culture.

Featured Digital Organising Resources

Coronavirus Doesn’t Need to Interrupt Your Year-End Fundraising

Despite the many challenges the virus has presented this year, the good news is that many donors are in fact giving more to make sure their communities’ needs are met. Check out these great ideas from EveryAction on how to make the most out of your end-of-year fundraising activities to ensure that your important programs get the funding they need.

Community outreach strategies: Unstructured campaigning

We all intuitively know that the most effective messenger is someone we know and trust. Especially in the age of Covid, where the amount of communications we receive online can be overwhelming at times, the effectiveness of moving from structured to unstructured campaigning has never been more evident. Our friends at Ecanvasser share some of the advantages of unstructured campaigning and how to best implement it in your campaign.

Strengthening European Social Movement Ecology

The Ulex Project is an activist training centre that runs courses to support social movements in Europe. They’re expanding the scale of their ‘Ecology of Social Movements’ course that supports activists to think about their practice and organisations and help them respond to the serious challenges we face in creating a better world. To that end, they are looking for movement organisers, activist trainers, and others involved in social movements and popular struggles across Europe to help them think about the kind of training and support movements most need to move forward. Click here to complete their survey.

Your Guide to a Successful #GivingTuesday and Year-End 2020: Strategies and Tools for Fall Fundraising in Uncertain Times

EveryAction sat down with four of their nonprofit fundraising experts to talk about trends they’ve seen over the course of this year and how organisations can set themselves up for success this #GivingTuesday and Year-End. Whether you’re aiming to make up for a deficit caused by cancelled events, preparing for different presidential election outcomes, wondering if the U.S. postal system will adequately support your direct mailings, or trying to stand out in a world where suddenly everything is digital, this guide shares recommendations on how to maximise your fall fundraising.

Upcoming Trainings & Events

Where do we go from here: A progressive community roundtable on next steps to start winning online, November 12 15:30 CET, Zoom

In this roundtable event, using the Report on the State of Digital Organising in Europe as a reference, Tectonica will open up the discussion for the progressive community in Europe to explore what next steps to take to start winning online. You can sign up here for the event.

Political campaigning in 2020: Lessons learnt from around the world, November 19 17:00 GMT, Zoom

NationBuilder is the world’s most used software for politics and advocacy and has served over 100,000 organisations in 110 countries. The European team at NationBuilder will be sharing what they’ve seen as campaigns have adjusted to the many challenges of this year and the lessons learned along the way. If you can’t make the event, don’t hesitate to sign up anyway, since they will be sharing the recording afterward.

What We're Reading

In a year dominated by digital GOTV, social pressure is playing a big role, by Sean J. Miller, 21 October 2020, Campaigns & Elections

How ActBlue has transformed Democratic politics, by Elena Schneider, 30 October 2020, Politico

Why the humble text message is a key campaign tool, by Padraig Belton, 30 October 2020, BBC

How to spot fake social media accounts and internet trolls, by Suhauna Hussain, 3 November 2020, LA Times

Democrats underperformed among voters of color - except in Arizona. Here’s why, by Aída Chávez and Ryan Grim, 4 November 2020, The Intercept

Facebook Has A Metric For “Violence And Incitement Trends.” It’s Rising, by Ryan Mac and Craig Silverman, 5 November 2020, BuzzFeed

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Biden’s Win, House Losses, and What’s Next for the Left, by Astead W. Herndon, 7 November 2020, NY Times

Democratic leaders play a ridiculous blame game with progressives, by James Downie, 8 November 2020, Washington Post


Parler, a conservative Twitter clone, has seen nearly 1 million downloads since Election Day

On the one hand, it’s pretty scary that the right is moving to this new platform because Facebook and Twitter are clamping down on disinformation. On the other hand, it’d be good to see more independent networks, especially on the progressive side, that are specific to politics and civic engagement. Maybe it’s time for progressives to follow suit in an ethical way...


Remote from various U.S. locations: Senior Digital Fundraising Specialist,

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Remote within the U.S.: Sales Engineer, NationBuilder

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