“If your people are not having a ball doing it, there is something very wrong with the tactic,” Saul Alinsky said.
Alinsky’s right—a small, dedicated group of activists can take on the world if they’re having fun while they’re doing it. Here are some ways you can put this rule into action.
Build a Community
The best way for you to make sure your activists are enjoying your tactics is to make sure they’re enjoying each other. True activism is based on communities of people who care about each other and have fun spending time together.
Boring tasks like stuffing envelopes or handwriting thousands of postcards can be miserable work. Tackle them with friends and they become fun activities where you swap stories and race to see who finishes first.
Take time to find out what interests them beyond the policy fight you both care about.
You can learn more about the importance of building communities in grassroots activism during the Grassroots Activist Certification program.
Find Their Niches
Everyone has different strengths and interests. Some people enjoy marathons, while other people think of running as a cruel and unusual punishment.
Some of your activists may enjoy phone banking. Others might hate making calls but love heading out in the sunshine to knock on doors. Still others might have a knack for writing letters to the editor or showing up at public hearings to testify.
A good leader takes the time to learn what tactics each activist enjoys doing and makes sure they’re maximizing their potential. An activist who enjoys what they’re doing is going to be far more successful and far more likely to come back than someone who’s stuck doing a task they dislike.
Make It Fun and Fulfilling
Do your activists like competitions? Put up a leaderboard when phone banking and keep it updated throughout the day. Do they have a favorite coffee or soda? Keep it on hand.
Have competitions for most doors knocked, or volunteers recruited or phone cards made. Give away personalized awards for “Best Canvassing Horror Story” or “Best Phone Banking Voice.”
If you and your activists are enjoying yourselves, you can move mountains.
Want to learn more about Alinsky’s rules? Check out our Insight to Action program “A Night With Saul.” Find out if this exciting program is coming to a city near you and sign up for our email list here
Check out the rest of the Adapting Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals series here: