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Planning an action

There are times when you'll be preparing a one-off action, perhaps as your contribution to someone else's campaign, or as a stand alone event in itself. Other times your action will be part of your wider campaign strategy with each and every action being a step towards your overall campaign aims. Here we provide a check up list to keep in mind while planning an action:

Before the action


  • What is the analysis of the situation?
  • What structure will the group use? Who makes the decisions and how?
  • What is the strategic goal (i.e., who are we trying to influence, and what do we want them to do)?
  • What is the political objective (what is the action or event)?
  • How does this event communicates its goals before, during and after the event?
  • How does the group define its commitment to nonviolence (are there nonviolence guidelines or states principles)?
  • What will the scenario be? (including place and time)
  • Who will provide overall coordination of the event?
  • When and how do you expect the action to end?

(see the Campaign section "Developing effective strategies" and "Components of a Campaign" for more ideas and exercises)


  • Will the group be trying to work with other groups or communities? If so, who will make the contacts?
  • Will the group have a flyer, explaining to the public what it is doing? If so, who will prepare it?
  • What publicity will you do? Will you try to reach other people to join you? If so, who will do it?
  • What kind of media work will you do? Will you send out a press release ahead of time? Will there be spokespeople during the event, ready to talk to the press? Will there be a Media Kit with "talking points"? Will you need a Media Sub-committee?(check the media section).

Participants preparation

  • What opportunities do participants in the action have to prepare? Are their orientation sessions? Affinity group development? nonviolence training? skills training? legal briefing?
  • Are the participants empowered to make decisions about the scenario? How is that done? Is the group process clear to all?
  • Is it clear that there are many roles needed for an effective action, not just those doing the "direct action"?

Logistical planning

  • Are the logistics regarding the time and place well planned?
  • Have all the materials been prepared and is there a distribution plan?

During the action

  • Is there a communication system between those in various roles roles such as police liaison, legal observers, media spokesperson, Medical team, people risking arrest, support people and demonstrators?
  • Who is documenting the action with photographs and video?
  • Is the decision-making process clear?

After the action

  • If people were arrested, is there legal and jail support?
  • Is follow-up media work being done - spreading info on the action to mainstream and alternative media?
  • Has the group doing an evaluation of the action?
  • Does the group plan to document the action (creating a case study)?
  • What are your next steps? Will this action lead to the development of a campaign? If part of a campaign, how does it change the situation?