Diagnosing low group capacity

From Le Hub/The Climate Justice Organizing HUB
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The following resource was compiled using existing organizer databases and resources by movement thinkers on group capacity, and using thoughts from grassroots organizers within the hub's community of practice. This guide was developed in response to a request from a grassroots group asking for support on addressing low capacity. In particular, the group was struggling with keeping current members engaged.

Diagnosis Low capacity (wiki banner) (1).png

We at the Hub have identified 3 main root causes of low group capacity: 1. Culture-related, 2. strategy-related and 3. structure-related.



Culture-related [1] problems that might reduce group capacity, and some approaches to solving them, might include...



In a group of 'X' people, each person should speak no more than 'X%' of the time.


See this resource created by activist Daniel Hunter on how to build a resilient culture in our activist groups, or this one from Transition Network on balance vs exhaustion.



A care web is a system in which people support each other through reciprocity. They differ from charitable care models in which people with disabilities only receive passive care. Webs are best monitored by the needs and wants of team members to ensure that their needs are adequately addressed. Check out Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha's articles on care webs .


What are the reasons why the members initially got involved?

What were they looking for in this group?

Compare your answers to the mission statement, vision, values, etc. of your group.


For more on culture-related concerns, see this resource by the New Economy Organizers network.



Strategy-related [2] problems that might reduce group capacity, and some approaches to solving them, might include...



See elements of group strategy, systems mapping and theory of change for more.



Structure-related factors that might reduce group capacity, and some approaches to solving them, might include...



See the ladder of engagement for more.


A Buddy system applies older members as mentors to help newer members understand the movement. Read more about buddy systems in our navigating turnover wiki page. Read more about the bottleneck effect from momentum here.


Read more about delegating tasks here.

Hub Community Responses

Caitlin Chan

(Climate Justice Montreal)

The group to which I belong (@CJM) has undergone a restructuring and a reflection on itself. For us, it's easier to build internal capacity and motivation by 1) focusing on two areas that members are actively enthusiastic about working on and b) planning a 'friendlier social event to learn how to knowing on a more personal level so that you can tailor a larger group structure that can withstand drops in capacity. I think the focus on social connection as a way to build internal capacity and energy is key for us! I think the logic for us is that if we flourish within the collective, more people will want to mobilize through our energy and our actions !'

Climate Justice Toronto

"Assuming we do this kind of grassroots work [democratic and slow, with efforts to meaningfully connect with all members and integrate their thoughts and perspectives], the movement we are building has its own compelling spirit that can surviving when a person needs to step back and rest."

- Climate Justice Toronto

Check out the following write-up by Climate Justice Toronto which reflects on their restructuring process. !'

Further resources:

NEON culture toolkit

350: How to get others involved

Gini's approach to culture

350: Ladder of engagement

Momentum Structure Report

Giving and receiving feedback

CJTO's reflections on restructuring 

Mobilisation Lab on team culture

Change Agency: Elements of campaign strategy

Power dynamics in virtual meetings

Relationships: the glue of organizing

Balance or burnout

Building a resilient culture of resistance

Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha's articles

System Map Template

Theory of Change

If you have any suggested revisions or additional resources to share related to the above content, please email them to kenzie@lehub.ca.

Creative commons.png
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Back to Homepage

  1. mobilisationlab.org
  2. commonslibrary.org/elements-of-campaign-strategy/