Online Activism and Advocacy

The internet and mobile phones offer powerful ways to communicate with people around the world that can complement and strengthen on-the-ground community organizing and advocacy. By working online, you can introduce your projects, ideas, and solutions to a global audience and make connections that then support and invigorate your offline work. The internet can significantly boost your organization's capacity to research issues, voting records, and contact information for your political representatives, expand your outreach, build a community of supporters, coordinate and mobilize events and actions, as well as fundraise. One of the first, hugely successful, online campaigns was that of the Zapatistas, an indigenous movement in Southern Mexico. When they first asserted their autonomy, they came under heavy repression from the Mexican government who tried to isolate them and demonize them in the media. By using email lists and websites they were able to report on what was happening from their perspective and reach a large audience. Supporters then cross-posted updates on their websites and forwarded emails which circulated around the globe, drawing attention and concern to what was going on in the remote corner of Mexico. The Zapatistas also used the internet to coordinate their meetings which brought together organizations and grassroots movements from around the world to discuss issues and ways to network. The Zapatistas and the role of their supporters in raising awareness and organizing is just one example of what is possible with online activism. As you create your own communication and outreach strategy, be creative! Offer your audience a variety of ways they can contribute and be engaged from spreading the word to helping face to face. Over the last few months we have reviewed a number of tools, what they can do, and how to use them. We suggest you go back and review the new media materials and brainstorm ways you can use your new knowledge and skills to contribute to change.