Kasch Wilder

Account Coordinator

September 12, 2018

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Lessons in Community Organising from Matthew Bolton

BSD is proud to congratulate our friend Matthew Bolton on becoming Executive Director at CitizensUK. An experienced community organiser and author of How to Resist: Turn Protest to Power, Matt knows the power of collective action firsthand.

Earlier this year at BSD London, our Founder & CEO Joe Rospars chatted with Matt on their experiences in community organising, their first wins, memorable mistakes, and how we can all be more responsive to our most important supporters.

With Matt’s recent promotion, we wanted to share our three favourite lessons from Joe and Matt’s chat:

1) We need more community organising in our schools.

Young citizens are leading in the most important challenges we’re facing on both sides of the Atlantic right now. If we want to make the most of this energy and optimism, our education systems will have to play a role. Understanding our potential power as changemakers before we leave school would empower more of us to know that organising is a viable career path — otherwise, we may face a demographic crisis for civic society organisations in the near future. Using our classrooms to create a new generation of organisers could pay off for campaigns, large and small, who need to harness both the energy and insights of a new generation of supporters.

Matthew Bolton

2) Organisations must keep pace with a new generation of organisers.

A new generation of activists is coming to understand the power of collective participation. The U.S. has the #MarchForOurLives movement; in the U.K we see young activists advocating for a better future, like those at Our Future Our Choice and For Our Future’s Sake — or those working with Citizens UK’s own Good Jobs Campaign — finding their voices in civic society. With today’s young activists rightfully hungry for change, traditional campaigning organisations need to find ways to enable incremental progress while keeping the next generation engaged.

3) Working with business can be a force for social change.

Across brands, advocacy organizations, NGOs, and politics, our clients’ missions are grounded in responding to people’s needs and supporting those who feel an affinity to their missions. This ethos is paralleled by CitizensUK: Matt spoke about the challenge of maintaining working relationships with the targets of some of its campaigns, often businesses.

The challenge for progressive organisations is not only being responsive to the needs of our direct supporters, but to think about how business can be more responsive to civic society as a whole — whether this means campaigning to improve working conditions, advocating for culture change, or even challenging businesses to raise their voices in the national discourse.


Want to talk about the future of community organising and civic action? So do we — let’s talk.