How to grow your divestment campaign

Divestment is about hitting the fossil fuel industry where it hurts – its reputation. Getting institutions to pull investments – cutting ties with this immoral industry – is one way to do that.

Campaigns are most effective in achieving their immediate divestment aims and in building the bigger climate movement we need to win in the long-term, if they successfully build public support and increase the numbers of people actively involved.

The Growth Cycle

When you run an action or an event, you can increase its impact massively if you use it to bring new people into your campaign team and onto your email list and social media channels.


We’ve made this step by step guide with tips on how to use campaign actions to grow – but it’s really best thought of as a cycle of: promoting > organising > updating > meeting > repeating.

Promote your events and actions

If you want to get more people on board with your campaign through your actions, you’ll need to promote them!

  • Thinking about this cyclically – you can advertise the next action/event at the one before it, and email people using petition sign ups (see below).
  • Share on social media. You could set up a Facebook event and share it with local environmental or activist networks on Facebook and Twitter. If you add the hashtag #fossilfree it will help us spread your message further.
  • Make flyers or posters to advertise and put them in local shops and community hubs.

Plan how to stay in touch with people

Whatever event you’re running, whether it is a stall, a stunt, a rally, a talk or something else entirely – you’ll lose the people who come along and show an interest if you don’t have any way of contacting them again.

  • Run a stall at an event on its own as outreach, or alongside another action (if you don’t have space/permission for a table, a person with a clipboard works just as well).
  • If you’re running an event as part of a coordinated period of action, like the Global Divestment Mobilisation, you can use the 350 event tool to manage and promote this.
  • Use our petition tool to to set up a petition online and bring this along to your action so you can capture people’s signatures and contact details. You can access this from a tablet to sign people up online or print out a paper version so you can input the details online later.
  • You could also give out leaflets with links to your petition and social media accounts so people can sign up later.

Follow up and stay in touch

Use your email list and send regular emails to keep people engaged.

  • Share updates on campaign progress.
  • Invite people to your actions and events, and encourage them to spread the word.
  • Send people reminders the night before or on the day an action or event.
  • Update people after actions with pictures, information and any media coverage.

Bear in mind that this isn’t always appropriate. If you’re planning a direct action for example, you probably won’t want to tell everyone who has signed your petition! Think about your audience.

Organise events to absorb new members

If you want people to get involved and join your core organising team, you’ll need to make space for this.

  • Plan open meetings after big recruitment drives.
  • If you have lots of new members, it’s a good idea to incorporate basic campaign training into their first meeting. We’ve prepared this Fossil Free DNA presentation and guidance notes to help you do this.
  • Use this opportunity to go over the history of your campaign so far, celebrate your wins, and propose your strategy for moving forwards.
  • Set up your meeting so new members feel welcome. Make space for everyone to introduce themselves.
  • Map your new and existing skills collectively, so new members can share things they might be good at, helping them feel their contributions are valuable (social networks, cooking, crafts, digital skills, technical knowledge – everyone brings something useful).
  • You could look at ‘buddying’ new group members with existing ones to break down barriers to people feeling included.

Make time to rest and recharge

Don’t use up all your energy running an action and have no onward plans! Think ahead and make space to recharge.

  • Make sure you have capacity to do everything you’ve planned. If your group is stretched to its limit of free time you’ll burn out quickly.
  • Make space to do things outside of campaigning, work and your day to day life which nourish you. It’s healthy to have creative hobbies that aren’t just about political change! The same goes for sports, exercise, relaxation and social time.
  • Plan to do things as a group that aren’t just about your campaign, to get to know each other and enjoy each other’s company. You could have “bring and share meals” at the end of meetings, and plan things you’d all enjoy to have fun. A party? A picnic? A game of frisbee?! Do what works for you.

Build actions in series

If you’re only ever planning one action at a time, you can’t use it to promote your next activity. If you’re in a phase where you want to grow, try to plan a series of activities. Below is a suggestion of how this might work, but you’ll want to tailor this to your strategy. And don’t be daunted – you don’t need to plan a whole year in advance! Even thinking one or two actions ahead could really help you grow.

  1. Run a campaign stall – in a public space or appropriate community / environmental event. Have engaging things for people to do – getting pictures taken with a prop and sharing on social media, games where they can win sweets etc. Make it fun. And use it to give out information on how people can get involved – e.g. leaflet for your next event.
  2. Follow up by email – write to those stall sign ups and tell them what you’re planning next.
  3. Build hype about your next action on social media. Maybe make a Facebook event
  4. Make your next event engaging – are you attracting passers by? Do you have someone greeting people – and getting them to sign your petition? You can find creative action ideas in our manual. If it’s media worthy, share your petition link with your press release (check out our guide on working with the media for more information). Share your petition on social media – make it easy for new people who have seen the action to find when they go online.
  5. Get your team together. Debrief. Get ready for the next big thing. Plan the stages ahead so you’re building people power for when you need it.
  6. Make sure you have time to recharge. Build in rest time and fun activities.
  7. Follow up by email again – debrief your petition list on your last event and invite them to the next one
  8. Run a big action! Make it engaging again (4). Then follow up by email again (6), this time inviting people to the debrief and training to get involved.
  9. Follow up with an open meeting – Plan this to be friendly and open to absorb new members, train them on the core Fossil Free DNA presentation , review your campaign, celebrate success – and plan next steps together.
  10. Channel all that new energy into your next step…