Frequently Asked Questions
Who is Leadnow?
How did Leadnow start?
Leadnow was founded in 2010 by a group of young people who cared about a wide range of issues and wanted to create a new way for people to participate effectively in our democracy.
Is Leadnow affiliated with any political parties?
No. Leadnow is an independent, registered non-profit organization and we aren’t affiliated with a political party. We work across party lines on key issues and at one time or another, we’ve been accused of being a front for every political party. We focus on raising the bar for all parties by growing a movement focused on shared values.
How is Leadnow different than other advocacy organizations?
Leadnow’s role complements that of single-issue advocacy organizations. We focus on building a broad base of political power that can mobilize across issue sectors and engage large groups of people at critical moments in order to put issues on the map, or to keep them in the public eye. We leverage technology to aggregate our supporters’ voices, time, and money into a powerful, democratic force.
How is Leadnow funded?
We’re incredibly proud and grateful to rely on the Leadnow community for small donations that provide the overwhelming majority of our funding. Our launch in 2011 was funded through personal savings, family and friends, and about 15 founding donors, most of whom donated around $100. In 2016, 74% of our funding came from our community chipping in a few buck. We received 46,416 individual donations from Leadnow members, and 2827 members chipped in monthly. The remaining 26% of our funding came from vetted like-minded organizations and donors for specific campaigns that are aligned with our community’s top-ranked priorities.
To learn more about our financials, check out our most recent annual report.
Please consider chipping in today by visiting our donation page.
Where do the funds go?
Your donations help fund cutting-edge technology to help people strengthen and amplify their voices, campaign tactics like radio ads and rallies, and to cover the modest salaries of our small team. We know the Leadnow community has ambitious plans and we’ve worked hard to make our donations stretch to make this vision possible.
How does Leadnow set campaign priorities?
Leadnow’s priorities and campaigns are driven by our community. Through face-to-face events and online surveys, our supporters have decided to focus on four priority areas: an open democracy, a fair economy, a healthy environment and a just society.
We also run campaigns as important issues come up. Our small staff team writes emails to our supporters in the same way an aide briefs the Prime Minister – summarizing an important issue and asking for our community’s support to take action by, for example, emailing their MP or donating to fund an ad in the paper. Our supporters then decide if they want to take action on the issue.
Finally, you can start you own campaigns! Our distributed petition platform allows anybody to start and run campaigns on the issues they care about. If a petition gains momentum, we’ll share it with other Leadnow supporters who care about similar issues.
How does Leadnow get involved in elections?
Like many national and provincial moments, we see elections as opportunities to help shape the direction of the country while building campaigning and organizing capacity in the Leadnow community.
During the 2015 election, Leadnow’s Vote Together campaign connected millions of people who wanted change with the information and tools they needed to defeat the Harper Conservatives. This included the most comprehensive, publicly available local polling ever done by an independent group in Canada – paid for by 3000+ small donations totalling $100,000+! At the same time, we built a volunteer network of 45 local teams and 5,500+ volunteers who had 51,500+ voter-to-voter conversations at the door and on the phones. This network continues to canvass and organize around our priority campaigns.
Vote Together was an ambitious strategy and for a first time effort, it paid off well. We’ve published a report that documents how we went about building this campaign, how we executed the strategy in Conservative swing ridings, our first reflections on its success – as well as what we could have done better. Watch the video and read the full report here
We've also had an impact in provincial election, such as in BC where in 2017 we helped defeat Christy Clark's Liberal government and encourage the NDP and Greens to form a governing alliance founded on core issues that the Leadnow community cares about.
You campaign on a variety of seemingly unrelated issues. How can you have the knowledge on policy and the political process to fight campaigns on such a wide range of issues?
Most of the Leadnow team are not issue experts, but we are working to become experts in how to mobilize large numbers of people around campaigns and elections to make real change happen. What connects all the campaigns we work and brings the Leadnow community together is our shared values, and our shared priorities. Working across issue areas is a new way of campaigning, and allows us to mobilize many more Canadians, and have a much bigger impact in key moments than traditional single-issue advocacy organizations, and that makes a real difference. That said, when taking on a campaign in a new area we need to work together with the experts – and we do. We often partner with single issue organizations to run successful campaigns, and get feedback from advisors and issue experts to inform our approach and provide us with opinions on issues of the day.
It may be easy to get quite a lot of people to click on a website – but do decision-makers actually take any notice of web petitions?
Online petitions are just one of the tactics we will use as well as enabling our supporters to take offline actions. We have great examples of case studies where decision makers have taken notice from MoveOn.org in the USA, GetUp.org.au in Australia, 38Degrees.org.uk in the UK and Avaaz.org globally. Some of the reasons that online petitions make a big difference:
- They shift the conversation – A solid online petition and social media attention directly tell politicians and the media what significant numbers of the public are saying, raising the profile of the issue and opposition to government policy. They are one of the most effective ways for people to strengthen their voices together, speak as loudly as government and shift the national conversation. As people forward and share the petitions they are also educating Canadians about the issues. We have seen these effects countless times with Leadnow petitions.
- They organize support – Online petitions are a low-barrier way for people to become part of a campaigning community. Afterwards, people can be invited to take higher and higher commitment actions – letters to the editor, funding an ad, door knocking, hosting a rally, etc. – all of which help to raise the profile of the issue, opposition and alternative solutions, while building the strength of the campaigning community over time and cultivating new volunteer leaders.
- They win – Online petitions have been central to campaigns that have won real victories with this government, such as the OpenMedia campaigns to stop usage-based billing and online spying. In other cases, such as the Leadnow campaign to stop the crime bill, the legislation passed but only at serious and unexpected political cost to the government. Prime Minister Harper still has not implemented the Canada-China Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Act (FIPA) in large part because you and all of us told him we wouldn’t stand for secret tribunals making decisions about life in Canada These unexpected and serious costs then make the government more cautious about continuing in that direction.
Check out this article on Leadnow’s campaign to close the loophole on Maxim Coal: http://www.engagingnetworks.net/us/case-studies/leadnow-stopping-maxim-coal