01 Sep 2021
With increased social distancing and needing to avoid large gatherings, COVID-19 will change how we campaign. But this doesn’t mean we have to stop our work completely – after all, climate change won’t wait. Our COVID-19 guidance strongly recommends moving meetings and events to online meet-ups from now on. That means finding new ways to organise our campaigns, reach out to people, and put pressure on decision makers.
We’ve gathered a list of some free tools to help you make the shift to campaigning online.
Running a meeting or event online
Zoom is a video-conferencing tool that allows anyone with a meeting link to join a call without needing an account. Though the experience is better with the Zoom app, attendees can even join with their web browser. Not only does this make it a simple alternative for group meetings and keeps the barrier low for new attendees, but it’s also ideal for taking your events online. Other features include meeting recording, chat box, breakout rooms and screen sharing – useful for events and giving a presentation.
While a free account limits calls with over three people to 40 minutes, you can simply hang up and immediately re-join on the same link to refresh the 40 minute limit. If you’re hosting something more formal than a core group meeting or running an online event, we also have some paid accounts available for groups. This gives you "unlimited" call time which makes things more manageable, professional and means you don't have the hassle of hanging up, re-starting a meeting and reassigning breakout rooms if your time limit ends whilst using one. Please get in touch on [email protected] if you’d like more information on this.
Jitsi is a free, open-source video-conferencing tool that has many of the same features as Zoom. It’s handy for quickly setting up an instant meeting and it’s totally based in your browser. You don’t need even need an account to set up a meeting - just head to meet.jit.si and choosing a unique meeting name, which then gets added to the end of the link. You can then share your link with people who you’re expecting to join.
While you can’t schedule a meeting in advance in the same way as Zoom, if you choose an obscure meeting name in advance, chances are it would be free for to you to use on the day of the meeting. Jitsi isn’t really suitable if you’re looking to use breakout rooms, instead we’d suggest using Zoom.
Google hangouts is a simple video-calling tool, much like Skype. You can share your screen and use a chat box, but it doesn’t offer some of the other features that Jitsi and Zoom do. It also differs from these tools as you need the email address of everyone that you want to invite into the call, making it less ideal for new attendees to join or for online events.
Collaborative working online
A big part of collaborative planning, idea sessions, and strategizing usually revolves around two simple tools: paper and pen. It’s understandable to feel a bit unsure about what to do about this aspect of campaigning in a remote situation, but hopefully the following tools will make it a little easier.
Google Docs is a live word document that anyone with the link can access and edit, comment or view all at the same time – depending on the permissions you give people. This might be a good place to write notes during your meeting and it could encourage others to help with collaborative note-taking. You might also find it useful for reviewing and editing things like a letter or a briefing together. Google have made a tutorial, if you’ve never used it before.
Jamboard is an online flipchart or whiteboard that everyone can edit simultaneously. You can draw, add ‘post-its’, add images and easily rearrange items, making it a good space for generating and grouping ideas. You can find it in Google Drive under 'new'.
Miro is another whiteboard style tool, and it’s ideal if you’re looking for something with more advanced functionality compared to Jamboard. You can leave comments on ideas that other people have added and integrate other tools, websites and accounts with it.
Trello is a bit like an online corkboard which might be useful for gathering ideas, or rearranging ideas into common themes. You can create different lists and move cards from one list to another. It’s a simple concept but you can use this for anything from project management to moving ideas into different groupings to building or illustrating a timeline. If you’re looking to capture more detail than a basic post-it note, cards can also be expanded to add further information.
Plectica is a great tool for creating mind maps, timelines, or any other sort of diagram. It’s a little more fiddly than Jamboard, but would also make a good flipchart alternative. There’s also an aspect of Trello’s expandable cards in there, if you’re looking to add further detail to your ideas.
Slack is an online messenger platform which you can use to chat within your group, to other Climate Action groups and with us at Friends of the Earth too. You can join different chats or forums to discuss anything from national level policy to art. Find out more about Slack and how to join.
Action Network is a digital campaigning platform that can support your local campaigning and help you promote your group.
You can use it to:
- Create petitions and other online actions
- Advertise events (including online events)
- Build and manage an email list
Find out more about Action Network and how to get free access through Friends of the Earth.
Canva is a graphic design tool that allows you to create graphics, presentations and posters. Think of it as an easy version of Photoshop. It has inbuilt templates with the correct dimensions for social media platforms making it a useful resource for digital campaigning.