The Four Seasons Of Organizing

Mt Hood_via Flickr

Photo: via Flickr (Winter bonfire near Mt Hood, Oregon)

Experienced organizers don’t treat January like June. Every month brings different opportunities and challenges. Proactively planning for each special season allows movement builders to grow people power and create change 365-days a year.


Winter – Stoke A Fire, Don’t Hibernate and Accept A New Challenge

Do…January and February are the most important organizing months. Stoke a fire for the year by matching your budget and workplan to a new suite of field and digital tools which can turn your goals into reality.

Don’t…Hibernate. Bad weather boosts online interactions.  Facebook engagement rates double on rainy, snowy and cloudy days. Invite people into your movement with great acquisition focused digital content. Steward online joiners with opportunities to learn about your work, take meaningful actions, and to connect with real humans.

Instead…. Strengthen intentional relationships. Pickup the phone, hangout online and meet up for a cozy fireside chat over hot chocolate. Encourage volunteers to take on new leadership roles and remind folks that their efforts are noticed and appreciated. Focus on important training sessions and get team buy in for your updated plan and make sure everyone is comfortable with new tactics.


Photo: York Region Blue Dot volunteers taking advantage of spring weather to talk about environmental rights.

Spring – Into Action, Don’t Get Stuck In The Weeds and Follow Up On Leads

Do… Spring is your best recruitment season. Take advantage of new community energy by attending local markets, going door-to-door and hosting inspiring events. Communities come alive in April and May. Get out there and connect with like-minded locals.

Don’t…Waste precious time dealing with internal challenges. Perfection is tempting. Every hour you spend planning is an hour that you’re not inviting others to join your movement. Set high standards for your work but know when an email or toolkit is good enough.

Instead…Direct all your efforts towards following up on leads within 72-hours. Make sure data entry is coordinated and volunteers are phoning new leads and inviting them to team socials or meet and greets. Personalize asks and always have at least three ways a new supporter can join your team.

The Bay Area has the best farmers markets hands down

Photo: Kristina D.C. Hoeppner via Flickr (Summer market in Sunnyvale, CA)

Summer – Catch Your Breath, Don’t Become Complacent and Double Down On Strategy

Do…Slow down. Your team has been pushing hard for months. Prevent burnout by encouraging folks to refocus on family, friends and personal rejuvenation.

Don’t…Become complacent. Summer markets, festivals and community events are in full swing. Elected officials are working the BBQ circuit. Local media are looking for quick, easy stories to fill out a slow news period. Put those new recruits from the spring to work to make sure you have the people power necessary to maintain visibility, grow momentum and hit your goals.

Instead…Combine work and play with a team retreat. Check in to make sure: tactics suit strategy; your plan is responsive to new opportunities; emerging challenges are being problem solved; and everyone is having fun. If you have the budget, bring in a facilitator and skip town for a couple days. Grassroots organizations can look for a volunteer with a cottage or cabin or spend a day at a nearby state/provincial park.

Pumpkin_Pimthida_via Flickr

Photo: Pimtheda via Flickr 

Fall – Push Hard, Don’t Look Back and Reinforce Urgency

Do…Just like spring, the start of a new school year energizes communities and people who were busy over summer have reset themselves and are ready to get back to work. Push hard and challenge your team with big goals.

Don’t…Fixate on the past. Yes. Some things went wrong over spring and summer. But more things went right. And no—credit and blame don’t matter now. Remain focused.

Instead…Reinforce urgency to your community. Black Friday marks the annual end of field outreach for many organizations. Digital tactics will sustain your momentum through the holidays. Be upfront and honest with volunteers about this—let them know you need them more than ever in the fall if the politicians are going to take notice and create the change you need and want.

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