2024 Research Tools for Organizers Training Series

Research into the relationships between powerful people, corporations, and institutions – aka power research – is essential if we want to know who we’re really up against in our fights for justice. This form of research helps us demystify the corporate playbook, find strategic targets and points of leverage, identify campaignable opportunities, reshape narratives to better inform the public, and find new ways that campaigns and movements are interconnected. In short, it not only helps us understand who we’re up against, it helps us see who is on our side and how to bring others into our work.

Research Tools for Organizers is a training curriculum designed to help you level up your toolkit and bring a new perspective to your campaigns by incorporating practical research techniques and a corporate power analysis into your campaign development.

Session 1, April 18, 7:00pm ET: Intro to Power Research

What is power research? This training will explore how to identify key networks of corporate power that uphold and profit from systemic injustices, how research into these networks can be used to challenge their power, and how LittleSis can help researchers bring together information from free public sources to inform campaign strategy and tactics.

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Session 2, May 16, 7pm ET: The Corporation

The corporation is the dominant organizational structure in our extractive political economy. Learn how to find strategic information in public filings from corporations – like profits, executive pay, and major shareholders – and how to use that information in corporate campaigns.

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Session 3, June 20, 7pm ET: Nonprofits

From colleges and cultural institutions to corporate front groups, many influential organizations are governed by US non-profit laws. This training will discuss the role of nonprofits in elite power structures and where to find public information about nonprofit revenues, boards and staff, major contractors, grantees, and more.

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Keywords: Non-Profit Explorer; Forms 990; why do rich people join nonprofit boards; chambers of commerce and nonprofit corporate astroturf fronts; police foundations; nonprofit boards + execs, contractors, grantees

Session 4, July 18, 7pm ET: Billionaires and Other Powerful People

There are now more than 700 billionaires in the United States alone. This training dives into billionaire power in our age of accelerating inequality and tools for researching the wealth, influence, and networks of billionaires and other powerful individuals like corporate executives.

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Keywords: Billionaire power, tools and methods for researching individuals, property ownership, other assets, political ties, conflicts of interest

Session 5, September 19, 7pm ET: Money in Politics

How do corporations and the ultra-rich use their money to influence politics? Learn how to use federal and state databases as well as free tools like OpenSecrets to research the political donations, elite lobbying firms, and PACs and Super PACs driving policies that benefit the few at the expense of the many.

Register here

Keywords: OpenSecrets, FEC database, senate lobbying database, state campaign finance & lobbying data, PACs & Super PACs

Session 6, October 17, 7pm ET: Researching Politicians

Who are our elected officials listening to and what do they care about? This training will explore how to research politicians’ personal networks using public data like personal financial disclosures, campaign finance records and lobbying reports.

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Keywords: Campaign donors, lobbyist relationships, personal financial disclosures

Session 7, November 21, 7pm: Local Power Coalitions

Once we have researched the key power players, how do we put this information together to develop an analysis of corporate power? Learn how to synthesize research into a power scan that shows where powerful people and corporations intersect and come together.

Register here

Keywords: Creating a power scan, major employers, chambers of commerce, regional banks, law firms