Book Review: Engagement Organizing

From the Catalyst, Summer 2018

Engagement Organizing: The Old Art and New Science of Winning Campaigns

By Matt Price

On Point Press, 2017

Reviewed by Natalie Appleyard

The let’s-do-this-together organizer in me had many a great a-ha moment while reading this book. I had to stop taking notes because it was essentially turning into copyright infringement. This is an excellent book for anyone who loves bringing people together for a common cause, not only because of its smart and strategic insights, but because of the integrity of its practices.

Rather than a win-at-all-costs approach, Price reminds organizers of the irreplaceable importance of human connections and the consistent practice of values underlying any given social movement. While the proliferation of data offers a breadth of engagement previously unknown, Engagement Organizing reminds us of the depth that can only be achieved through a return to the interpersonal relationships of community organizing.

Price uses case studies of political campaigns, the NGO sector, and unions to highlight best practices for organizing. These include distributed leadership, communicating with not at supporters (and encouraging them to communicate with one another), and harnessing the power of data to identify and reach “your people” and evaluate and refine your practices.

Price offers no magic formula. But he does give enough practical tips to really get the wheels turning. It has already permeated our strategic discussions at CPJ and I look forward to seeing the fruit it bears.

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