Digital Advocacy Tools For The Many, Not The Few

How simple digital tools can help the progressive movement reach its full potential

#heretostay Rally, Boise, ID, where more than 600 people texted into Ripple

If ever there were a moment for this country to reach its greatest potential in people power, it is now. By all accounts and measures, the current political moment we’re in today is unique. Aggressive and recurring threats to our most vulnerable and the heightened engagement from everyday people has led to a seismic shudder across movements, advocacy organizations, donors, and political parties alike. While the Democratic Party struggles with their own small-dollar fundraising, advocacy organizations and grassroots movements are benefiting from the reallocation of those donations. The energy, resources, and political context are ripe for new movements to emerge. For local, grassroots organizations that have been fighting these fights long before the Trump era began, this is a landmark opportunity to accelerate their efforts. We decided to launch Strive Digital because of one question: “Does the entire progressive Movement have the tools they need to keep this up today?”

Upon first glance there seems to be a considerable amount of innovation happening around political technology on the left. New tools are emerging to revolutionize community organizing, loaded CRMs (customer relationship management) and software to help large organizations with swelling budgets reach their supporters more personably and easily than ever before. However, after talking to hundreds of grassroots groups without the same brand-awareness as larger organizations — whether they’re just starting to build their base or whether they’ve been on the ground organizing for decades — we saw that their core needs weren’t being met. From their perspective, advocacy software implied lengthy, mandatory trainings for prohibitively priced tools that were unnecessarily bloated with features that went beyond their immediate needs.

…it’s our mission at Strive Digital to build the most affordable, tactical tools designed to accelerate progressive movements’ results and intuitive enough to seamlessly complement their existing efforts.

Instead of trying to accommodate these platforms, many organizations simply wanted affordable, plug-n-play tools that directly impacted specific actions; like membership growth sprints or small-dollar fundraising pushes. Their immediate needs included lowering the barriers of entry for new supporters, cutting down on hours of data-entry, and communicating calls-to-action directly to supporters while tracking their commitments and results. These grassroots groups across the country wanted to ensure that the protesters attending their city’s Women’s March or DACA defense rally would actually show up to their next community meeting. They were interested in experimenting with mobile advocacy, but couldn’t justify raising grant money for a single tool. Grassroots advocacy organizations wished to purchase digital tools for specific actions, simple as that.

Throughout the summer and early fall, our beta-partners made it clear that with intuitive, affordable tools at their disposal, they were capable of incredible achievements. With basic digital barriers removed, progressive movements can use technology to address core needs like base-building and fundraising head-on without sacrificing the rest of their organizing program. That’s why it’s our mission at Strive Digital to build the most affordable, tactical tools designed to accelerate progressive movements’ results and intuitive enough to seamlessly complement their existing efforts.

Stemming from that mission came the inspiration to build our first product, Strive Connect: the essential texting tool for Movements of all sizes. With easy-to-use functionality that requires little to no training, Strive Connect allows organizations to use text messaging to both grow and engage their bases. It’s also 4–5X less expensive than other comparable texting tools. In the coming weeks, I’ll be sharing stories from the ground on how Strive Connect has already impacted progressive, grassroots movements across the country. I’ll be highlighting the work of partners like Rise, a movement of students in California fighting for free college tuition, and PODER of Idaho, a group of immigrant youth and allies that will be using Ripple to better prepare and respond to ICE raids.

In the meantime, we’d love to be introduced to even more grassroots, advocacy organizations that may be interested in Strive Digital! Feel free to send me an email at jedd@strivedigital.org anytime to talk. Now is the time to ensure progressive grassroots movements, new and old across the country, have the basic digital tools they need.

Jedd & Adrian