Recently, four allied grassroots campaigns (1Sky, Clean Energy Works, the Energy Action Coalition and Focus the Nation) set out to build an unprecedented online community: multiple organizations engaging their supporters together toward common goals on a shared online platform. We called it “The Climate Network.”
Despite a significant financial investment and hours of planning, coding, reviewing, designing, outreach, and training to make the project a success, we were ultimately unable to achieve what we hoped. The ambition of the online organizing platform never matched the success of the offline organizing community and strategy. After 12 months, it folded.
What happened? A number of things didn’t go as planned, despite the best efforts of these four organizations, their staff, and several of our best and most active online community members. However, almost everyone involved with the project said if they could do it again, they would, with the right planning and preparation.
If your nonprofit, campaign, movement, or cause is considering developing an online grassroots organizing model or a custom online community tool to support your advocacy or organizing efforts, then we hope our story will help you avoid some pitfalls, and achieve ambitious online organizing goals.