Organizing A Five Levers Organizing Workshop (FLOW)

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If you are a state coordinator working with CCL Field Development Director Elli Sparks for your Five Levers Organizing Workshop (FLOW), please contact for the appropriate slides for your workshop. 

If you are wanting to host for your chapter, please proceed using the resources below, you can use and modify it for your own group. Feel free to touch base with your state or regional coordinator so that they can provide you with additional support.

TOC and Guide Section
Background & Getting Started

At the first CCL Third Coast Conference in 2013, volunteer leaders in Texas wanted something bigger than "meet with your member of Congress and ask them to sponsor Carbon Fee and Dividend." It felt as if their lever was stuck and so they decided that if one lever was stuck, maybe they could pull on some other levers to get movement in their district or state. What would those other levers outside of Lobbying be? Media Relations, Grassroots Outreach, Grasstops Engagement, and Group Organizing & Development!

  • The Five Levers Organizing Workshop (FLOW) can stand alone as a 1.5 hour-long workshop that helps existing chapters organize into committees related to the Five Levers. Click here for a link to the slide deckrecording, and tips for leading our workshops on Zoom.
  • Or, it can be added as the final hour-long portion of a full day Climate Advocate Training workshop for new chapters.
  • This workshop works best with 12 or more volunteers - a large enough number so that they can divide evenly into five committees.

Starting committees (teams) isn’t a requirement for any chapter, but if you have the time and volunteers, it will strengthen your group to ask people to work together. As we’ve learned in Transformational Organizing, research shows that people engage more deeply over time when they work together.

Co-leaders can keep the work from becoming overwhelming and provide support and accountability to each other. Adding a second person to a job or role enables more people to gain useful skills and experience, and creates a backup for when your point person might unexpectedly need support.

This isn't new information - we've been working on this for years. This workshop is new packaging. And, we can set up the training so a leader, external to the group, can come in and provide the training. It could be a regional or state coordinator, or group leader from one chapter goes to lead it for another chapter, to provide a new messenger to help the organizing workshop feel new.

Being Flexible

For chapters with 5-12 volunteers, you could scale down the workshop. Evaluate with the group where their strengths lie and then have the group select one or two levers to work on together.

For chapters with less than five volunteers, work with them on building their next monthly agenda using the group leader preface page. Switch to the Building Momentum Month by Month mini-checklist. This will help the chapter work as a team to engage everyone present in the effort to activate around the monthly action sheet. We have a new group leader preface page for monthly action sheets. In smaller groups, we could coach them to use the group leader preface page to build their monthly agenda.

In Advance
  • Coordinate with the group leaders
  • Encourage them to reach out to invite many people in the community.
  • Phone calls are best. Divide the list of contacts/members among cheerful, eager volunteers who can call and leave voicemail messages inviting people to the training. Divide up your chapter phone list and call as many as possible.  Most times, the call will go to voicemail, which is great.  They can simply leave a message that goes something like this: "Hi this is Jeff from Citizens' Climate Lobby.  A trainer from our national office will be in town to lead an organizing workshop on April 1st.  We would love to have you join us.  I will email details shortly.  Feel free to RSVP by email.  Thanks!"
  • Example Story: CCL UT Park City/Salt Lake City had 5 volunteers call 82 people and left messages for all but 16 with whom they spoke. 22 people attended the meeting for an impressive 25% attendance rate!
  • A combination of new volunteers and existing/active volunteers works nicely.
  • Think also of meeting up with the group leaders and anyone who is really active. Meet up for lunch or dinner in advance. Give them the resources listed below so that they can assist with the committee leadership. Then during the workshop you can organize leaders across levers, e.g.: "Go with Jill into that corner if you are interested in media."

Questions to ask before hosting a workshop:

  1. What are the advantages and disadvantages of creating a committee structure for our chapter?
  2. What activities could we work on if we had committees?
  3. What committees could we form to meet our current needs?
  4. What organizational structure would oversee our committees? To whom would committee chairs report their plans, activities, progress and goals?
  5. Who would the committee leaders or co-leaders be?
  6. How can committees work to develop and expand our chapter and its outreach ability?
  7. What are the possibilities, if any, for interchapter committees in our area?
Resources - Print Copies
  • Volunteer Inventory Form (one for every attendee, plus extras to give to the group development committee)
  • Five Levers Committee Worksheet (if you anticipate 20 people attending, print 5 copies of this. Each committee will get its own version of the worksheet for its committee and each person in that committee can have a copy for themselves, plus one copy that gets filled out and given to the group leaders)
  • Endorsements by State (to share with the team that becomes the Grasstops Committee)
  • Volunteer Inventory Sample Conversation (scroll to the bottom, this is the suggested dialogue for the group development committee to use when onboarding new volunteers using the Volunteer Inventory Form)
  • Constituent Letter Forms (share copies of these with the Grassroots Committee)
  • Monthly Action Sheets (print 10 copies)
After the Workshop
  • We invite the state coordinators or regional coordinators to follow up with group leaders with these questions to help them continue the momentum of organizing around the Five Levers.
  • State coordinators are also invited to enter their workshop information in this Google Sheet Elli has created to track them.
  • Follow up afterward with links to Community and introductions to CCL leaders, like Amy Bennett - Liaisons - or Flannery Winchester - Media - or David Cain - Presenters/Schedulers, or Todd Elvins - Grasstops.
  • It may be that your state has a state level grasstops outreach team, or you might want to create one. If this is the case, then share the names of the grasstops volunteers with whomever is organizing the state Grasstops Engagement Team.
Sample Email Invitation

To send to people after calling them, feel free to use this as a template for your voicemail as well to encourage attendance:

Hello __,

Hope this finds you well. I wanted to invite you to join Citizens' Climate Lobby's Director of Field Development Elli Sparks for an evening of fellowship and organizing.

Elli will provide a brief introduction to CCL and the Energy Innovation and Carbon Dividend Act for newcomers. Then, she will lead us through an organizing exercise designed to help us create the most generous space into which our senators and House members can step. History demands that our members of Congress lead on climate solutions. We can do our part to make that possible.

Elli is touring through ___ during ___, so feel free to join us for the opportunity to meet Elli and brainstorm about how we can organize more effectively locally on climate change! She's been with CCL for a decade helping support groups like ours.

Five Levers Organizing Workshop Outline

Organizing A Five Levers Workshop Presentation (Google Slides)

1.5 Hours:

  1. Introductions (5 minutes)
    • Go around the room
    • Introduce yourself first
    • Have everyone (including you) share: their name, neighborhood, how long with CCL (this workshop may be their first encounter), and the first CCL thing they did (this helps normalize CCL activities and actions; for some folks, coming to this training may be the first thing they’ve done with CCL and that's okay)
  2. Overview - history, bill, methodology (25 minutes)
    • History - Marshall's story (5 minutes)
    • Energy Innovation Act (10 minutes) (Elli includes the 5 options for Congress - regulations, subsidies, cap and trade, plain vanilla carbon tax, carbon fee and dividend.)
      • Q&A on the Energy Innovation Act (5 minutes)
    • Exercise - share with a partner: "What I like best about the bill" (5 minutes)
    • Methodology -
      • The group does the work of creating the deliverables that the lobby team needs to demonstrate to the member of Congress the growing political will:
        • LTEs, op-eds, newspaper endorsements, constituent letters, influencers endorsements written or in person
      • Committees create the strategy for securing the deliverables
      • Committees help build the agenda for the monthly meetings
      • Monthly meetings help the chapter activate its volunteers
      • The group leader can circulate a sign-up sheet on which volunteers can sign up to help with the various activities that the committees have identified as part of the strategy for that month. Circulate the clipboard from the beginning of the meeting and keep it going until the chapter has sufficient volunteers for the activities identified by the committees.
  3. Exercise (20 minutes)
    • Exercise - fill out Volunteer Inventory Form (print enough copies for the group)  (5 minutes)
    • Go around the room to have folks share answers to "#3 skills and talents" and "#6 how you like to work" (10 minutes)
  4. Review Five Levers and introduce idea of committees (30 minutes)
    • Describe Five Levers (all of the things we create for the lobby team to take to Congress to demonstrate political will)
      • Lobbying Congress
      • Media Relations
      • Grassroots Outreach
      • Grasstops Engagement
      • Group Organizing & Development
    • Divide up into committees and have each committee complete a Five Levers Committee Worksheet (20 minutes)
      • Print enough copies so that each committee has several copies - one for each member of the committee, plus a copy to give to the group leader(s)
    • Have each person write the name of their committee at the top of their Volunteer Inventory sheet. Collect these once folks get into their committees. Give the completed volunteer inventory sheets to the group leaders.
    • During this time, I spend a little extra TLC with the Grasstops, Grassroots, and Group Organizing & Development committees
      • Grasstops - share the Endorsements by State for their state; if the state is building a statewide Grasstops team, facilitate the connection between the chapter level team and the state level team to help build relationships with local community leaders and seek their endorsement.
      • Group Development - help them see their role in onboarding new volunteers. Share copies of Volunteer Inventory Sample Conversation (scroll to bottom of resource for download) and the extra Volunteer Inventory Forms used earlier in this agenda.
      • Grassroots - share blank copies of Constituent Letter Forms. It's their job to build a strategy for getting lots of these. It could be outreach to community organizations and colleges, organizing tabling events, and locating venues for speakers to talk about CCL and give presentations.
  5. Closing (10 minutes)
    • Committees report to group - (goals) (5 minutes)
    • Leadership Committee meets (5 minutes)
      • One representative from each committee
      • Main job: build and run the chapter's monthly meeting agenda
      • To determine where and when they will meet to prepare for the next monthly meeting 
      • Give them copies of the Monthly Action Sheet so that they can consider how to incorporate the actions into their monthly meeting agenda
    • While the Leadership Committee meets, everyone else can help clean up from the workshop.
What Are The Advantages Of Working Together In Committees?
  • The organizational structure of committees may make the chapter seem more supportive and inclusive.
  • Members have a stake in their chapter when given an opportunity to be involved in a specific way.
  • Members may be more likely to continue their involvement.
  • As chapter members come and go, having a committee organizational structure ensures more stability for chapter activities.
  • Members have an immediate way to become involved in their chapter, in addition to attending monthly national call meetings.
  • Committees can expand outreach into the community.
  • Committees are an effective way to divide up complex tasks.
  • Committees can help avoid overloading too few people with too much work.
  • Committees can meet regularly to strategize, plan and carry out activities, thereby extending member involvement in CCL past the monthly national call meetings.
  • Committees can be added or deleted as a chapter’s membership and activities grow and their needs change.
Preparing For A State Five Levers Organizing Workshop

Is your state interested in hosting a Five Levers Organizing Workshop? If so, here is the timeline recommended by Elli Sparks to help prepare for the event ahead of time:

  • 5 weeks out
    • Confirm your state's goals for FLOW 
    • Confirm the Zoom Meeting line for FLOW 
    • Develop your invitation plan 
      • The State Coordinator (SC) personally calls the group leaders in their state
      • The SC encourages group leaders to personally call their core volunteers, sideline sitters, and newbies
      • The SC emails everyone in the state who is in our database.  (RC can help with this)
      • Work with Alison Kubiscko on Eventbrite invitation.
  • 4 weeks out
    • Keep pursuing personal invitations by phone and email (and other social media)
    • Build your team:
      • Include team members like your RC(s), SC(s), Elli, and five volunteers who will lead the breakout rooms for the levers.  
      • Include lever volunteers who will also help with various Zoom tech support 
      • Set up a training with Elli  to cover both of those tasks (you just need willing and capable volunteers with a little experience in their particular lever).
      • Your RC often serves as Breakout Room Manager for the meeting.
  • 2 weeks out
    • Make a copy of the FLOW State Slides.
      • The SC updates these slides and gets them to Elli by 10 days before your Five Levers Organizing Workshop.
      • Elli will add the updated state slides into her main deck.
  • 1 week out
    • Meet with your team
      • Practice on Zoom within the week before FLOW
      • Elli will review the main deck with the team.
      • Your team will sort out the roles needed for Zoom tech support.
      • Elli will train on the Zoom tech support (we all keep learning on Zoom!)
      • Elli is most often available for Team Meeting on Mondays after 5 pm EST or Tuesdays/Wednesdays from 5:00 - 7:30 pm EST
  • Day of FLOW
    • Your team should plan on arriving online 30 minutes early and staying 30 minutes afterwards
      • We arrive early to sort out any last minute issues
      • We stay late to debrief and plan follow up tasks/goals.
How Do We Incorporate Committees Into Our Current Group Structure?
  • Include committee reports at monthly national call meetings. Each committee leader gives a description of the committee’s function and a report of what’s coming up for the next month so that new and prospective members can learn about chapter activities and be informed of upcoming committee meetings.
  • Pass around a sign up sheet for new and prospective members to indicate their willingness to be on committees which need members.
How Can Committees Work Together In A Larger Chapter?

Chapters of various sizes may benefit from organizing into committees. In large metropolitan areas, interchapter committees, comprised of CCL volunteers from several chapters, may form to address chapters’ purposes that benefit multiple CCL chapters. Committees may choose to organize around a specific function such as working with a member of Congress or a broader regional goal such as metro-wide tabling and presentation opportunities.

Many larger chapters have found that, if they can coordinate around a regularly scheduled Leadership Committee meeting to keep each other updated, they more effectively align the larger group’s goals in the same direction.


  • Committees: A number of chapter members working together on a specific lever or project.
  • Committee Chair: Volunteer responsible for leading the committee, organizing meetings, creating agendas, and reporting on activities.
  • Leadership Committee: A group of volunteers who provide leadership in overseeing chapter organization, activities, functions, membership, teams, annual planning and finances. The Leadership Committee is like a Board of Directors.
Press play to start the video (59m 51s)
Video Outline
To skip ahead to a specific section go to the time indicated in parenthesis.

Intro & Background
(from beginning)

5 Levers Slides

Reviewing the Committee Worksheet

Q&A Discussion

  • Elli Sparks
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