25 Tools for Building a Successful Movement


1. Passion: Find your passion and build your initiative around your strengths and what you love.

2. Research: Understand your idea from all sides and make yourself the absolute expert in the field. Don’t shy away from learning about controversies, don’t take anyone’s position at face value, and ask the questions that need to be asked.

3. Leadership: Exhaust all opportunities to help lead by supporting existing champions. Don’t re-create the wheel. But if there is a gap in leadership for your cause, be that voice.

4. Goal: Know your objective and what success looks like to you.

5. Empathy: Understand why someone might not agree with you and find opportunities to learn from them and build empathy for their position. Mostly, there are no enemies and it’s important to be thoughtful about the words you use and the positions you take.

6. Message: Create a simple, core message that everyone can understand and come back to it again and again.

7. Urgent Positivity: If your issue is urgent, convey it as urgent, but frame it positively so that people feel there is hope for success.

8. Solution: Don’t campaign against something, but rather for something. If you’re trying to address a problem, suggest a possible solution. Even if it isn’t the right solution, you’re being proactive and help start the conversation.

9. Easy ask: If you need help to succeed, develop 1-3 ‘asks’ that will make people want to help and do so easily.

10. Narrative: People respond to stories, and a well-told story will help make your pitch more accessible.

11. Storytelling: Across multiple platforms, tell your story and do so with strong visuals where possible. But always keep your story crisp and to the point – less is always better.

12. Context: It’s critical to provide context to your issue, but not so much that it confuses or alienates.

13. Audience: Understand whom you need to reach and how that audience will react to your message.

14. Relatable: If your issue is obscure or niche, find ways to make it relatable to the average citizen.

15. Dream big/start small: Don’t be afraid to reach for the impossible dream, but start where you can succeed quickly to build momentum.

16. Focus: Have a laser focus on your goal and avoid issue-creep by expanding your agenda in ways that can distract, alienate, or dilute your message.

17. Partnerships: Do what you do best and if you don’t have a certain skill, augment your weaknesses through strategic partnerships that help both parties.

18. Unusual suspects: Get out of your comfort zone and have conversations that make you uncomfortable. By talking to people you don’t agree with, you have the ability to win over non-traditional allies or, at the very least, minimize opposition.

19. Celebrate success: Crossed an item off your ‘to do list’? Celebrate. Accomplished a minor goal? Celebrate. Finding ways to appreciate small joys sustains momentum both personally and professionally.

20. Innovate: No challenge is insurmountable. When you encounter an obstacle, work to find innovative ways to overcome it – a tool best achieved by reaching out to those you respect and trust to troubleshoot a problem.

21. Moments: Not everything is critical. Pick your moments to act – especially when engaging the media – and know the hill you’re willing to die on…and what hills you won’t.

22. Be humble: We’re all human and we all fail. Though it’s obvious, it’s critical to avoid being righteous or an absolutist, lest you make a mistake yourself.

23. Honourable and open: Keep your word. Follow through. Give people a chance. Accept criticism. Learn from mistakes. Ask for advice. Essentially, be an honourable diplomat and an open, accountable advocate – even if this is harder in the social media age.

24. Demand better: Balance is better than compromise. Rather than watering down your issue’s bottom line for the sake of ease or due to pressure, be patient and work toward a balanced solution that meets the needs of all parties.

25. Politically sustainable: Fifty plus one is never a win in the long term. Ensure your success is a success that can endure politically, socially, economically and environmentally, giving it the best chance to be a lasting resolution.