Search below for resources covering the intersection of climate engagement, social science and data analytics.
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Like many of you, the Lab team has been exploring how we can best support the climate movement at this critical moment, with nearly a trillion dollars on the table to reshape the climate and energy landscape following the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA), Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), and CHIPS & Science Act. Simultaneously, we know communities across the country continue to suffer from the impacts and fight build-out of the extractive, polluting fossil fuel industry – including many of my neighbors across the Southeast, calling on President Biden to oppose the Mountain Valley Pipeline.
Various climate groups have recently used messages invoking “climate anxiety” to spur grassroots action. Science Moms and Action for the Climate Emergency have joined the Environmental Defense Fund and Climate Emergency Fund in running Facebook and Instagram ads about climate anxiety in recent weeks. A group called RepublicEn has been running Meta ads using conservative messengers like evangelicals, military figures, and elected officials to create a permission structure for Republican voters to support climate action. The dominant narrative about climate change or energy on social media last week concerned a report showing that some of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve was shipped to countries like China. Pages like Breitbart and Tucker Carlson seized on the news to accuse the Biden administration of “treason”, but their content went mostly unchecked by progressive pages.
Collaboration is possible with specific kinds of active effort. Too often, potential collaborators focus on the why rather than the how. This resource offers a three-pronged approach for overcoming barriers to interaction. We must (1) raise awareness about what relationality is and why it matters, (2) encourage potential collaborators to explicitly communicate not only WHY they want to connect but also HOW they will relate to others, and (3) we should create and support leaders and institutions that can reduce uncertainty about relationality between potential collaborators. research4impact’s evidence-based matchmaking method, called Research Impact Through Matchmaking (RITM) employs several techniques, including using “role assignment” to communicate each person’s unique task-relevant knowledge, expertise, and lived experience; describing the exchange as a mutually beneficial learning opportunity (to prime a collaborative mindset among all participants); and succinctly restating the goal so that expectations were common knowledge.
Movement organizations invest in 4 common elements to support individual and collective member political transformation and enhance recruitment and retention. These methods include: addressing whole-person needs via culture, community-building, and care; internal accountability and decision-making; political education; and enabling smaller “sub-homes” within the home (i.e., within the organization). Organizations believe they can successfully convert the collective member transformation occurring within their social homes into potential and exercised power over the conditions and policies that create health inequities. Movement organizations are hungry for spaces where they can be in direct dialogue with one another regarding the operationalization and measurement of this work. This report includes case studies on various organizations around the US—on how they’ve aimed to cultivate “social homes” within their constituencies.
There are six key steps to executing the best “one-on-one” conversation—specific to a union organizing setting, but potentially applicable to other settings. Step One: Discover the issues—ask open-ended questions to understand the problems the worker cares most about. Step Two: Agitate—ask provocative questions about the frustrations expressed by the worker. Step Three: Elucidate—provide your worker with alternatives, such as enhancing worker power with a union. Step Four: Make an “ask”—before assuming you will be rejected, ask the worker to take a concrete action. Step Five: Innoculate—prepare the worker for the toxic arguments that the boss will give in fighting union power. Step Six: Follow up—check in after the conversation to try to ensure consistent communication and action.
Research is core to the Lab’s goal of finding and highlighting evidence of what works (and what doesn’t) in climate advocacy. At the Lab, we know that many of the climate wins we need will be built on the foundation of investments now in research to answer the critical public engagement questions facing our movement. Our research agenda is a roadmap of what we think are some of the most critical gaps in the community’s evidence base, grounded in our Research Vision and driving our research program. Our research agenda also lays out our broader research principles, including putting theory into practice, an emphasis on portable results, the importance of centering equity & inclusion, the value of triangulating on knowledge from multiple sources, and more. In putting forward a research agenda, we hope to inspire and facilitate critical conversations, and we welcome input as we develop our research plans. We are also looking for partners to help us execute this agenda: climate advocacy organizations interested in field research, and funders to make ongoing learning possible. Please be in touch.
Tell proactive stories about people changing systems. This blog post about the power of narrative notes that social movements tend to talk about systems in a way that’s disempowering. For example, climate solutions that rely on individual actions can distance people from the problem and the power they have to solve it. Instead, use language that reflects the power that people have to change and shape systems. Show why a problem exists, who the decision makers are, and how people can or have changed policies and practices.
Every year M+R Strategies, a digital services firm for progressive non-profits, releases its Benchmarks Study. The 2021 version analyzes the nonprofit digital advocacy and fundraising field using data from over 220 participating organizations. The Study covers these areas:
- Digital advertising
- Email messaging
- Mobile/SMS messaging
- Social media
- Website traffic and useage
Changing the Conversation Together (CTC) is working to create a network of deep canvassers to grow the American electorate into a more inclusive and compassionate one. Deep canvassing is a method of voter engagement that draws on respect and shared experiences to encourage voter turnout. In this report, CTC examines the impact that their deep canvassing had both on turnout and vote choice. They find that CTC canvassing increased the likelihood of turnout by approximately 14%. For low propensity voters, those least likely to turnout, CTC finds that their efforts increased the likelihood that they voted by 25%. They also find that deep canvassing cannot wait until the last minute. These conversations need to be happening often and well-before election day. Advocates interested in making an impact at the polls should consider diverting even modest resources to deep canvassing, particularly for less likely voters.