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Strategy workshops

Session outlines for developing a strategy together
9 min read
Last update: Feb 25, 2024

On this page, we list all strategy workshops. Use these instructions to host your own sessions and develop a strategy with your fellow change-makers.

There are over 20 workshop sessions you can use to develop your campaign strategy, but you likely have limited time. Read our guide with recommended steps to develop a campaign strategy to find out which workshop you need.

Some workshops have similar outcomes, but just use different methods of getting there.

We need your help to improve these workshop templates! If you try one of them out with your group, make sure to reflect afterwards, and share your findings by improving these guides.


Learn how to facilitate

Before diving into all the workshops you can use to develop your strategy: make sure you know how to facilitate!

A facilitator plays a vital role in helping activist groups craft campaign strategies. They foster a safe and inclusive space by ensuring everyone feels valued and empowered to participate, while respectfully managing discussions and conflicts. This allows diverse perspectives and solutions to flourish.

The facilitator guides the strategic process by setting agendas, introducing facilitation tools, and ensuring clear communication through summarising and documenting key points. They guide the group process and support them in reaching their own informed decisions. Overall, the facilitator acts as a catalyst for collaborative and effective campaign strategy development.

Get an experienced facilitator

Each group and each context is unique. These ‘off-the-shelf’ outlines for generic workshops may have to be adapted to the context you are working in and the needs of the group. An experienced facilitator can help you with get.

Find a facilitator

An experienced facilitator can develop a workshop plan based on a dialogue with the group they are working with. They seek to understand participants’ own contexts and their specific needs before they design a workshop. As a result each workshop schedule is different. Even during the session itself they can decide to depart from their plan.

List of workshops

Vision workshops

  • 💡 Vision gallery: To help people to think big and find a common vision.

  • ⚡️ Forcefield analysis: To help you figure out what forces are working against you, and which are helping you move in the right direction.

  • 🌳 Problem tree analysis: This workshop equips change-makers with a visual "problem tree" tool to analyze root causes and consequences, guiding their campaign strategy development.

  • 🚶 Critical path analysis: This workshop helps activists develop their campaign strategy by guiding them to define achievable outcomes and map the stepping stones needed to reach their vision.

  • 🏷 Naming political assumptions: This workshop helps activists craft campaigns by examining their own biases and how they view power, conflict, and change.

  • 🎨 Visual aim setting: This workshop lets campaigners brainstorm individually using a creative vision collage, then discuss together to find common ground and develop their group's strategy.

  • 🏛️ Pillars of power

Stakeholders workshop

  • 🌈 Spectrum of allies: a strategy tool to examine the range of social forces and groups, spread across a spectrum, from those who are the most dedicated opponents to those who are the most active supporters.

  • 💪 Power mapping: a proces_s of identifying key decision-makers and influencers in a particular issue area or sector._

  • 🌊 Movement mapping: is a process of analysing how key actors within a movement of movements relate to one another.

Goals & objectives workshop

  • 😅 Capacity check: This workshop helps activists avoid committing to unrealistic workload by estimating individual capacity and adjusting campaign plans accordingly.

  • ✂️ Cutting the issue: Help reduce the scope of campaigns in order to focus efforts on where change can really be achieved. Consider the possible consequences of working on one part of a problem rather than others.

  • 🎯 Campaign goals spectrum line: This workshop helps activists clarify their diverse goals, then choose a single, achievable campaign goal to focus and plan around.

Tactics workshop

  • 🛠️ Skills-task match: This workshop helps activists leverage hidden skills and resources within their group to diversify tasks, fuel creativity, and find new campaign tactics.

  • 💥 Impact spectrum lines: This workshop helps activists assess the impact of their actions on both their target and their group through a visual and interactive "spectrum line" exercise.

Evaluation workshop

  • 🙏 Appreciative enquiry: This workshop helps activists focus on existing successes to boost morale, optimism, and creativity for future change within their group.

Other workshops

  • 🔍 Research: Activist research is powerful for strategy creation because it allows them to build a comprehensive understanding of the situation, utilizing existing research, expert connections, and focused online searches.

  • ⚖️ SWOT analysis: This workshop helps activists build stronger campaigns by analyzing internal strengths and weaknesses, and external opportunities and threats to their cause.

  • 🌪️ Ideastorm: This workshop helps generate creative activism solutions by encouraging brainstorming without immediate judgment or practicality concerns.

  • 📆 Timelines: A timeline helps activists develop a strategic roadmap by visually organizing key events, deadlines, and milestones for their campaign.

  • 🔺 Campaign plan pyramid: This is a way of representing all the different strands of your campaign in a simple visual that it is easy for people to grasp and remember.

Session outlines

SWOT analysis

SWOT stands for strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The tool has very corporate associations, but is still useful! The idea is that at the analysis stage, you identify the strengths and weaknesses of your campaign, any opportunities you can take advantage of, and threats you need to deal with. Then make sure any plan you make takes these into account.

Example: campaign for a new skate park

Our strengths

Our weaknesses

Strong social media campaign

Strong support base among young people / young adults / parents.

Support from youth workers and some councillors

Crowdfunding campaign

Not engaging enough with people living close to the proposed site

Inexperience / nervousness talking to councillors / planning department

No formal organisation fronting the campaign.



Showcasing skateboarding as skilled sport – pop up skate park at town festival, school sports day

Building relationships by getting involved in local litter picks, volunteering at community events.

Upcoming local elections.

Negative stereotypes: noisy / drug taking / drinking / ‘gangs of youth’

Local people mobilising against it.

Landowner pulling out due to pressure from neighbours.

We have included it because threats and weaknesses in particular are often the elephant in the room, that people don’t want to talk openly about. By bringing these things into the open, you may be able to agree ways of dealing with issues.

That said, the negative language of ‘weaknesses’ and ‘threats’ may or may not be helpful for your group! You can use the tool in the same way using ‘areas to develop’ and ‘challenges’ as alternative headers. Even with this adaptation, it is obviously a different approach from appreciative enquiry above. Use your judgement as to what will be most helpful to you.

Pillars of power

Pillars of power is a tool for helping you break down your goals and work out what players to target. The idea is that the main target, or the situation you are trying to change will be ‘propped up’ or enabled by other players. For example a fossil energy company will be able to create a new gas terminal by relying on sub-contractors, planning officers at the council, willing land-owners etc.

Even if the main target is very committed to the thing you are trying to stop, you may be able to stop them by removing some of the things that enable them to carry on.

Decide together what goes in the top box. Then split into small groups or
pairs (if the group is big enough) to explore what enables that situation to happen. Come back together to share your ideas.

Next, explore which ‘pillars’ it would be most effective to focus on. Ideally, you are looking for a player that plays a major role in enabling your campaign target, but that you can easily have an influence over. If no one player fits the bill, try looking for two or three you could work on in combination.

Skills-tasks match

This tool helps the group recognise the skills and resources they have access to. It can help spread jobs out away from the 'usual suspects'. And it may help you think of new ideas for activities.

Everyone writes down what skills, equipment or other resources they have access to (on separate pieces of paper). Encourage people to write down everything they can think of, not just things that are obviously relevant to campaigning. Include things people can borrow, e.g.: "the neighbour's trailer", "my son's printer" or "the megaphone from the football club". When everyone is finished writing, have a look at what you have - it's best to stick the pieces of paper on the wall with blue-tack.

You could then use these to allocate tasks and enrich ideas when you come to deciding on tactics. Or they could spark new ideas – e.g. sewing and theatre could come together to give you the idea of a street carnival.


This simple tool is useful in lots of meeting situations. The idea is that everyone throws out their suggestions in response to a simple prompt, e.g. ‘possible ways forward’.

Set it up by explaining you want to get out as many ideas as possible, and you want to free people up to be creative. Encourage people to keep the ideas flowing, without worrying about whether they are practical or effective. Ask them to use existing ideas as a springboard for new ones, instead of getting side-tracked by discussing or evaluating them as you go along. It may help to reassure people there will be space for analysing and developing the ideas later in the process.

Impact spectrum lines

This is a way of helping the group focus on two key strategic questions: ‘What will the impact be on our target?’ ‘What will the impact be on our group?’ These questions are relevant whenever you are making decisions about what to do in a campaign.


Take the first idea you want to explore, and work out enough details about it for people to be able to assess the impact it would have.

Next ask everyone to arrange themselves along a spectrum line with ‘impact on the target will be helpful to our campaign’ on one end, and ‘impact on the target will be unhelpful to our campaign’ on the other. If you are face to face, people can imagine this line on the floor, and physically move to the position that represents their view. In an online meeting, people can drag an icon, or their name onto a line that is drawn on the screen.

Next, ask people to explain why they chose the position they did. Use this conversation to draw out key factors to address. Work out whether there could be ways of adapting the idea to deal with concerns.

Repeat the process with a new spectrum: ‘ helpful impact on our group’ at one end, and ‘unhelpful impact on our group’ at the other.

If there are a few different ways forward you want to explore, you could then repeat both spectrum lines with other ideas. We don’t recommend doing this with more than three ideas – it could be overwhelming!!

The spectrum line is a good tool for exploring and getting issues out. You may want to step away from it and take a short break before coming back together to make actual decisions.

Capacity check

It can be helpful to build in this tool whenever you make a decision about doing something as a group! It is very easy to make an abstract decision about the most effective way forward, without checking if you have the capacity between you to actually do the work.

Start by giving each person space to reflect about how much time they can commit to the campaign (per week or month, or as a one-off in the lead up to a big event). This may vary depending on what the task is – for example, some people may be able to squeeze in online tasks during their working day, but struggle to come to things in the evening.

Hear back from each person. That could be a go round in a small group, or people could write down what they can contribute.

Next break down the campaign idea you have in mind. How much time will it take, and what kind of activity? How does that compare to the total capacity you have available? Can the campaign idea be adapted if you don’t have capacity? Or can you start by getting more people involved, and then re-assess?


This is a way of laying out all the things you plan to do in order, so you can work out how it all fits together.

A simple timeline might simply show weeks or months along the top, and then events below.

A more complex one could have several parallel sets of activity below, for example one line showing outreach activities, another showing meetings and another showing actions against your target.

Campaign plan pyramid

This is a way of representing all the different strands of your campaign in a simple visual that it is easy for people to grasp and remember.

Start with your main campaign goal at the top. At the next level down, put the two to three major ‘sub-goals’ you need to achieve in order to make the main goal possible. For example, in a campaign to save your local woodland from development, sub-goals might be for the woods to be owned and managed by local people, for planning permission to be denied on a specific threatened development, and to have a strong base of local people organised to defend the woods.

Go through the same process to work out the next level down. For example, in order for planning permission to be denied, you may need to win over ‘undecided’ members of the planning committee, and get hundreds of objection letters from local people.


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