Leadnow: Social Movements in the Digital Age

By: Samuel Guevara

All it took for Simran Ghuman to sign up for Leadnow was a Power Point presentation. She’s a Political Sciences student at Ryerson University. Her professor invited one of Leadnow’s campaign managers to make the presentation to her class.

“I got really excited because I didn’t really know there was a career in advocacy”, Simran says. “So, I looked them up and sent an email saying: “This is so cool! I want to be a part of this, how can I help out?”

Simran says she’s always been about social movements and driving change. Leadnow is a multi-issue advocacy organization, so it’s right up her alley. The second thing that caught her attention was the way the organization uses technology.

She signed up as a volunteer for a campaign involved in the Ontario Election called: “Stop Ford”. It’s exactly what the name suggests. According to Senior Campaigner, Brittany Smith, Leadnow bought a publicly available phone-book, and input the landlines into an auto-dialing software.

Volunteers, like Simran, were provided with the software. They installed it on their phones and let the tech do the work.

Public and private phone banks were hosted across the province. The campaign consisted of two phases. First, identify people voting against Doug Ford. Second, getting those people out to vote.


Leadnow has a track record. They made headlines during the 2015 federal election for their “VoteTogether” campaign, designed to get Harper and the Conservatives out of power.

According to their website, Leadnow targeted 29 ridings during the federal election. They made suggestions to voters about who to vote for in order to defeat the conservative candidates in those ridings. They claim an 86% success rate.


Rally in Guelph. 2015

Strategic voting is not a new thing, but Lead-now has been accused of being funded by liberal organizations in the U.S. They haven’t denied it. They say 76% of their funds come from individual donations and the remaining 24% comes from like-minded organizations.

All in all, Leadnow’s novelty is their use of technology. Lesley Wood, Social Movements expert, says “in the past we understood social movement campaigns to gradually build. Then eventually the numbers increase, and then you have a mobilization”.

“Today”, she says, “we are in a very different situation, where you can have a very big mobilization very quickly without any organization or with very few organization”.

Leadnow’s ability to mobilize the masses is undeniable. Smith says the organization has about half a million members in Canada, and about 100,000 in Ontario alone. But Wood says numbers are not the whole story.

For now, Leadnow has moved past the electoral campaign and has already launched several new campaigns. Simran says she will keep volunteering for the digital organization. “Hopefully they’ll send me an email about what they’ll do next”, she says, “If there are rallies, or a big conversation about electoral reform I really want to be a part of that”.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.