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 2015 alone, we received over 24,895 individual donations to our crowdfunding campaigns, with the overwhelming majority of those donations totalling $10, $20 or $50. Our core funding comes from approximately 2,000 people who contribute regular monthly donations. This blog post about our funding sources includes links to our audited financial statements for 2014 and 2015, as well as our full report to Elections Canada for the Vote Together campaign.

Please consider chipping in today by visiting our donation page.

Where do the funds go?

Most of our core funding goes to the modest salaries of our staff team, and a host of tech costs associated with running an organization that uses technology to help people strengthen and amplify their voices. We also fundraise for specific campaign projects like placing a prominent advertisement in the paper or airing a radio ad. We know the Leadnow community has ambitious plans and we’ve worked hard to make our donations stretch to make this vision possible.

Does Leadnow work with other groups?

Like millions of people across Canada, cooperation is a core value for the Leadnow community. You could say that it’s in our DNA.

To that end, we’ve worked with many, many other Canadian groups since our public launch in 2011. There are three major types of collaboration. First, we will often share experiences  and coordinate with groups that have been working on an issue for a long time, but don’t organize people. Second, we’ll organize joint campaigns with organizations that can connect and mobilize with their community so we’re stronger together. Third, we have been part of major coalitions, like the coalition that organized the C-51 National Day of Action and the Every Vote Counts Alliance.

We also believe in the need for international cooperation to build a better world. In 2013 we joined with people-powered organizations from around the world to become a founding member of OPEN – The Online Progressive Engagement Network.

Leadnow is a founding member of the OPEN network along with 38 Degrees in the UK, in the US, Campact in Germany and GetUp! In Australia.

Part of OPEN’s mission is to help people start people-powered organizations inspired by Leadnow and the other founding members, and OPEN now includes over a dozen new organizations from Poland to India to South Africa.

A small portion of our budget goes to funding OPEN’s work. It’s worth it. In exchange for our funding and the time we spend talking to one another the Leadnow community benefits from the exchange of knowledge and skills and from opportunities to work together on issues that need international cooperation, like climate change and international trade.

Campaign Strategy

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 three big priorities: a strong democracy, a fair economy, and a clean environment for all generations. After the 2015 election, we asked our supporters how we should approach the new government. Over 10,000 people responded, telling us they expect the Liberals to do the right thing in many cases, and that we’ll need to push them on other issues. In the same survey, thousands of people voted for Leadnow’s top priorities going into 2016: pushing for a new voting system and bold clean energy and climate plan, and stopping the Trans-Pacific Partnership emerged as the top three. Other issues, like stopping Bill C-51, implementing a basic income, and stopping tax evasion showed up strong as well.

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, supporters can start their 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

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 of Democracy, Environment and Equality. 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 in the USA, in Australia, in the UK and globally. Some of the reasons that online petitions make a big difference:

1.) 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.

2.) 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.

3.) 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:

Can I suggest a campaign?

Of course, get in touch with us by using our contact form located here or start your own campaign at

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