Training 1: Leadership & the community organising model

This is the first in a series of training sessions we’ve put together that provide a background for those interested in campaigning and community organising. The videos were filmed over a two-day training program involving workshops on community organising, strategy, building support for an issue, and using the platform.

Camp CommunityRun was designed based on ‘Camp Obama’, a training program that was originally used in the USA by the Obama 08 campaign, and was widely acclaimed as a crucial element in the success of their field campaigning. GetUp! has run similar camps before. Acknowledgements and restrictions for use of this material are found at the bottom of this post.

In this session Sara gives an introduction to community organising and models of leadership.

Filmed & produced by Change Media (

Leadership and the Community Organising Model

What is leadership?

Leadership is about accepting responsibility for creating the conditions that enable others to achieve shared purpose in the face of uncertainty. Leaders are those who can ultimately be held accountable for meeting campaign goals. However, they are also responsible for coordinating and empowering others to take leadership roles, which requires you to delegate tasks.

The Community Organising Model

When embarking on a campaign, there are many different forms of leadership available for you to chose. Often, campaigns are run by one sole leader in the centre who takes upon themselves all of the responsibility for the campaign. However, it is important to consider what happens if this person burns out? Will the campaign fall apart? Conversely, some campaigns are run with no clear leader at all and responsibility is widely dispersed amongst a group of people. Whilst this can be effective, having no clear leading force can often lead to disorganisation and stagnation within a campaign.

We believe in using the Community Organising model as the most effective means of leading and organising a campaign. This involves having a leader in the centre who is surrounded by a group of key supporters to whom responsibility is delegated. It is a shared form of leadership which creates a sense of community within the campaign itself.

The ‘Ideal’ Community Organising Model

Being an effective leader

As a leader in your community, one of your primary goals is to identify and recruit other leaders to work with you to build your campaign. These are the people who can help you to motivate and coordinate the followers of your campaign and they will act as the backbone of your campaign. You must be able to trust them to delegate responsibility to other dedicated and reliable individuals who are committed to your campaign. You may be the leader in the middle, but you will be deeply reliant on others for success.

Creating shared structure

Using a shared team leadership structure leads to effective organising that integrates local action with wider purpose. Having structure within the leadership of the campaign is essential as it encourages stability, motivation, creativity and above all ensures that member time, skills and effort are used in the most effective way possible.

Creating Shared Strategy

Although based on broad values, effective organising campaigns learn to focus on a clear strategic objective and are able to transform those values into action. Strategising your objectives empowers, motivates and invests local teams for a wider change in society. A collective vision and structure allows your group to be well oriented, motivated and fully engaged.

Creating Shared Measurable Action

Organising outcomes must be clear, measurable, and specific if you want your progress within the campaign to be able to be evaluated and the overall strategy of your campaign to be achieved. Such measures include the amount of money raised, the number of people at a meeting, the number of signatures on a petition, etc. Your job as leader is to create realistic outcome targets which you can motivate your followers to help you to achieve.

Leadership is key

Wondering how to turn an ineffective campaign into an effective one? Leadership is the key. A good leader takes responsibility for the failures that can bring down a campaign and is someone who can turn these into positives within a movement. Don’t blame hiccups in your campaign on others. Instead, take responsibility for these and consider how you could have better organised the action to be more effective.
Effective leaders are also those who can harness the power of communication and networking, whilst at the same time knowing how to build deep relationships with their supporters. Successfully motivating these supporters will turn even the most passive campaign into a dynamic and progressive one.

Originally adapted from the works of Marshall Ganz, Harvard University and modified by the New Organising Institute and Oliver MacColl.

‘Leadership & the community organising model’, ‘public narrative & Story of Self’, ‘Story of Us’, and ‘Story of Now’ are all based on workshops adapted by GetUp staff (Oli MacColl and Sara Haghdoosti), from MoveOn’s “Power Up America Campaign Council Leadership Training” developed over many trainings by Liz Pallato, Joy Cushman, Jake Waxman, Devon Anderson, Rachel Anderson, Adam Yalowitz, Kate Hilton, Lenore Palladino, MoveOn Organisers and many others.
We welcome your suggestions for improving this guide further for future trainings. We also welcome you to use it and adapt it for your own trainings, subject to the restrictions below.

The following work [this workshop guide] is provided to you pursuant to the following terms and conditions. Your acceptance of the work constitutes your acceptance of these terms:
• You may reproduce and distribute the work to others for free, but you may not sell the work to others.
• You may not remove the legends from the work that provide attribution as to source (i.e. “originally adapted from the works of Marshall Ganz of Harvard University and modified by New Organising Institute”).
• You may modify the work, provided that the attribution legends remain on the work, and provided further that you send any significant modifications or updates to or Marshall Ganz, Hauser Centre, Harvard Kennedy School, 79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138
• You hereby grant an irrevocable, royalty-free license to Marshall Ganz and New Organising Institute, and their successors, heirs, licensees and assigns, to reproduce, distribute and modify the work as modified by you.
• You shall include a copy of these restrictions with all copies of the work that you distribute and you shall inform everyone to whom you distribute the work that they are subject to the restrictions and obligations set forth herein. 
If you have any questions about these terms, please contact or Marshall Ganz, Hauser Centre, Harvard Kennedy School, 79 JFK Street, Cambridge, MA 02138.