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Navigating Turnover in Activist Groups


Grassroots groups, especially student-led groups, face a high risk of dissolving because their members don’t stay on for long, which creates challenges in momentum building. This guide includes; challenges faced by student organizers, strategies to support and guide new members and building institutional memory, plus further insight on student organizing best practices, organizing in a pandemic, wellbeing and motivation and recruitment and retention strategies.

Quick link to the full, most updated version of the guide HERE



Where this resource comes from

This resource was developed from knowledge compiled by the Climate Justice Organizing HUB’s (the HUB) from their community of practice and direct insight from student organizers that took part in a learning circle on navigating turnover.

A learning circle brings together a group of individuals with a common interest to learn from each other about a topic. Learning Circles are flexible, peer-directed learning experiences built on the idea that we all have knowledge to contribute and share to learn from each other.

The HUB’s learning circle on student turnover was held virtually, and included some predeveloped questions to help guide the discussion. The circle was held for about 1.5-2 hours and included student organizers from across Canada.


Purpose, learning objectives and relevance

This resource is intended for either facilitators of group strategy discussions within grassroots groups or for use by structures doing capacity-building or knowledge transfer with grassroots groups.

The resource intends to spark the following outcomes:

  1. Equip grassroots groups with field-proven strategies that maintain group cohesion and retain group knowledge in spite of steady member turnover
  2. Learn from best practices and lived experiences of other grassroots groups
  3. Model strategies that are well-suited to the realities of the learning group engaging with this resource
  4. (Bonus) Discuss new ideas to add to the roundup of best practices currently listed in the guide

Format and delivery

This resource is currently presented in written guide format on Blueprints for Change.

Suggestions for reviewing and processing knowledge:

  • Read the guide individually and take what’s relevant back to a group or assign as group reading
  • Draw ideas from the guide and hold a group brainstorming discussion
    • If you come up with anything new that we can add to the guide please be sure to email it to blueprintsfc@gmail.com.

Estimated time: Under 1 hour to review. Group discussion time may vary.

Accompanying activities-interactions

  • Individual or group read-through + discussion of how shared ideas do and don’t fit the context of the group learning from this
  • Trying to model the favourite best practices in the guide and running an action plan workshop for the group based on them. Goal is to come up with plan, timeline and bottom-liners to implement some of the ideas in the guide
  • ‘Learning circle’ with other grassroots groups that have dealt with turnover in the region where the learning group is situated. Using some of the scenarios in the guide, checking for local resonance and hearing what new ideas and tactics are shared in from participating groups
  • Checking back in after a couple months’ worth of testing the ideas in the guide in real life and doing a rundown of what worked well and what didn’t as a group


  • Facilitated check-in in after a couple months’ of testing the ideas in the guide in real life; discuss what worked well and what didn’t as a group
  • Experienced organizing coaches can examine feedback and ‘diagnose’ problems and provide suggested fixes based on group experiences


  • Inside Higher Ed
  • Student organizers that took part in the Climate Justice Organizing HUB’s learning circle on navigating student turnover
  • The HUB’s community of practice (includes senior movement thinkers and other anonymous grassroots organizers)

This guide was prepared by: Kenzie Harris and Isabelle Grondin Hernandez

Download Resource

See the most updated version of the guide HERE

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