The Mobilisation Lab was born at Greenpeace to facilitate an internal transformation into a more cutting-edge, people-powered campaigning organisation. As we evolved into our next phase, we wanted to find out how we could support a broader array of campaigners.
In 2016, we collaborated with Dragonfly Partners to analyse our role in the community and better understand what changemakers need to work bigger and better for a healthier planet. We heard about new ways of communicating, stories that matter, what you need to learn, and how to scale power-building for change.
We spoke to over 200 people—activists, volunteers, or senior leaders at local, national and international NGOs and INGOs.
Here’s what we heard:
1. Mobile and social media still present the biggest opportunities for more effective mobilisation.
Campaigners in the global South and East (GSE) work mostly in resource poor contexts with low connectivity. Activists see mobile as an effective and inexpensive way to scale their campaigning and mobilisation efforts. Supporting mobilisation in the GSE means supporting mobile. From Bangladesh to South Africa, campaigners want to know what mobile strategies and technologies are working.
MobLab can play an even greater role surfacing existing insights and spurring collaboration on new tactics or solutions.
2. People are campaigning in increasingly risky circumstances and shrinking civil space.
Many governments are increasingly hostile to civil society organisations and campaigners organise at considerable personal risk. Campaigners in the GSE in particular have to balance security and convenience, enabling people to act while guarding against surveillance. This has a huge impact on what mobilisation can look like. Campaigners need practices and tools that enable dissent to thrive.
MobLab can address these needs by helping to bring together a community of practice to better support campaigners and individuals facing the greatest risks.
3. There’s strong support for MobLab’s content.
Campaigners were enthusiastic about MobLab’s current mix of content, and they want more stories describing other campaigners’ learnings, successes, or experiments—as well as MobLab’s conversation-pushing reports and review of mobilisation tools.
Of all the potential roles of the MobLab, the strongest support was for the provision of advanced courses in mobilisation, engagement, and campaign strategy. Practitioners also want help coaching leaders on how to strengthen mobilisation, engagement, and people-powered campaigning within their organisation.
We heard a clear need for support locating and developing local leadership capacity—specifically, a pipeline of high-quality GSE talent that comes from the locales and communities mobilising for change.
4. MobLab could support social change work in the global South and East through local partnerships.
We heard from many campaigners that we need to improve our understanding of local contexts. Participants from the GSE said that the best way to work in their regions is by invitation and in partnership with local organisations and communities.
We heard that it’s important to make explicit and address the power differentials in these relationships and explore whether or not we share the same values. Some people would trust MobLab more if the team included greater representation from the GSE.
To serve groups in the GSE, MobLab support and content should be available in other languages in addition to English. We heard high demand for Spanish (though groups in Spanish-speaking countries also include many indigenous language speakers) and Arabic.
Top photo: View of the Women’s March on Washington from the roof of the Voice of America building. 21 January 2017. Public domain