In this guide, we compare movement-building platforms for activists. These digital tools will help you organise next campaign and turn supporters into leaders.
📚 This guide is part of a series on how to select your digital toolbox.
What is a movement-building platform?
A movement-building platform is a digital toolset for campaigners. They use it to grow and strengthen their movements. Examples are Action Network and Nation Builder. These platforms usually combine (a selection of) the following features:
People database (CRM): See what people have signed up for your movement, filter based on their actions and look at individual profiles.
Website builder (CMS): A CMS can be used to create your main website. If you already have a website, you can also create a campaign website (a sub-website that you use for activating and engaging your audience).
Website embeds & plugins: If you already have a website and do not want to create an action website, many movement-building platforms offer forms you can embed, or plugins to sync content with your existing website.
Email & text-messaging marketing and automation: Send personalized emails and text messages to large groups of people and automate doing so based on certain triggers.
Event calendar: Host events with signup forms and ticketing.
Online action pages: Petitions and other online actions.
Internal communication: Allow volunteers to communicate within and between teams.
Many tools exist that are built to do one of those things very well. Often, however, these tools are focussed on commercial businesses. Movement-building tools bring together a combination of these features. And they are specifically built for activists and grassroots organizing.
All-in-one or dedicated tools?
All-in-one tools do lots of things at the same time.
- They tightly integrate many features into one single product.
Because the tool does not focus on one specific feature, each of the features are likely less advanced.
Can become more expensive, because there are fewer options to choose from.
They do one thing very well.
Can be very cheap of free, because you can cherry pick the tools based on their pricing and the features that you need.
- Will be difficult to integrate the data from the different tools.
Find a balance
You probably want a balance between a all-in-one toolset and only using dedicated tools. Find an organizing platform that combines the features you need to be well-integrated, and use dedicated tools on the side for the features that are not included.
To evaluate these organizing platforms, we evaluate the following criteria:
Ease of use
Comparing movement building tools
CiviCRM is a contact management system for non-profit / activist sector, including donations, memberships, events, SMS, bulk mail & full CRM.
Wings by Bolster
GlassFrog is a tool for enacting a structure of holacracy within organisations.
Rebel Tools is a toolset being built by Activist Handbook as an open source, free, modern and easy to use alternative for small to medium sized organisations. It is still in development.