Social Movement Technologies
Graphic Design for Organizing Curriculum

Graphic Design Tools and Technology

Software, File Formats, and Image Manipulation

  • What are the main differences between Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop and when to use which tools.
  • How to work with images and text: editing, resizing, compressing, isolating elements and styling 
  • Understand what the design / web pros are saying: DPI, resolution, packaging, outlined text, pixel-perfect, file formats (PDF, JPG, PNG, EPS, GIF), RGB vs. CMYK, raster vs. vector.
  • How to get high-quality photos that are free, legal, and don’t look ‘stock’ 
  • Tips and shortcuts to save time and money while still creating professional designs

Canva Leveling Up – Templates, Brand Kit, and More for Non-Designers On Your Team

  • Ways to use Canva to support non-designers on your team to design effectively
  • Develop consistent templates for different teams
  • Lock layers and allow selective editing to your designs
  • Organize your folders, logos, and photos within Canva
  • Simple animation in Canva
  • Other Advanced tips and tricks

Adobe Photoshop Leveling Up 

  • Essential tips and tools in Photoshop
  • Canvas and image size
  • Isolating subjects
  • Creating a focal point
  • Adjustment layers
  • Blending modes
  • Working with text
  • Creating a simple GIF animation

Adobe Illustrator Leveling Up

  • Essential tips and tools in Illustrator
  • Basics of vector design
  • Typography and tracing
  • Icon design
  • Working with patterns
  • Working with different artboard sizes
  • Creating templates for your team

Graphic Design for Organizing Approaches and Strategies

Principles and Elements of Persuasive, Ethical, and Accessible Graphic Design

  • Overview of current graphic design tools and how you can learn to use them efficiently, individually or in combination with each other
  • What questions to ask at the start of every design project, and how to go about answering them
  • Key design principles of every successful design: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, Proximity, Hierarchy, and Balance
  • Key design elements in your toolbox: Color, Space, Typography, Imagery, Texture, Size, and Motion
  • Investigate these principles and elements at play in real digital and print designs from progressive organizations
  • How to run effective, ethical, and accessible design and photography systems in your organization
  • Making visual, web, and print design accessible

Telling Stories through Effective Visuals

  • Learn story-based strategy and how the power of narrative can enhance your designs
  • Explore how to tell a powerful story with a few visuals
  • Design complex information for engagement and understanding
  • What makes a successful infographicUnderstand what draws your audience in and how to visually evoke emotion

Organizational Identity Design

  • Explore case studies of how past progressive social movement used visual identities
  • Understand what makes a powerful logo and a successful design system
  • Design for your organizational position, values, and personality
  • Key questions to ask when redesigning your organizational identity
  • Build  style guides that gets everyone excited
  • Streamline your creative processes with templates to easily create consistent and strong visuals

Creative Process and Asset Design for Different Platforms

  • Write a design brief quickly and consistently that non-designers can understand
  • Understand the creative process cycle of effective design
  • Include your team along the way
  • Define your visual voice and tone for different social media platforms
  • Integrate visual moodboards in your design process – even for rapid response campaigns
  • Create assets that follow and enhance your organization’s identity
  • Build a visually strong engagement campaign across platforms (social media, newsletter, website…)
  • Use file management practices that design agencies employ to keep projects organized

Groups Banner

Staff and activists of 4,400+ groups
have engaged with SMT trainings


SMT has been a great partner to co-design and launch a set of offerings that meet the growing digital and remote needs of the organizations we support, including bilingual access for our Spanish-speaking partners. The team is relatable, attentive and knowledgeable and their use of case studies helps to make complex information accessible!
The SMT trainings I’ve taken have helped us mobilize and deepen engagement in our communities. Through Twitterstorms, phone banking, and other tactics that I learned through SMT’s trainings, we succeeded in our call to #ExtendtheReg for a million young people who would otherwise be disenfranchised by anti-poor COVID policies.
Working with SMT was easy and collaborative. The training helped our Greenpeace Southeast Asia team get new insights into campaign best practices across the globe.
We’re starting our third straight year providing grantee partners with Social Movement Technologies training and coaching…our grantees are in good hands.
Without SMT we would not have been able to move our organizing from the field to the digital arena during COVID. They helped us set up systems, coached and trained our folks, helped us troubleshoot and launch digital outreach efforts all in crucial campaign moments. Can’t speak highly enough about what their help meant!
SMT's training helped me use my journalistic skills effectively to highlight people's struggles and create change. Using Twitter more effectively, we supported Syria's refugee camp hospital to get more media attention and raise funds to respond to the hospital's needs as well as build visibility on the issues affecting refugees.
SMT helped GAIA use LinkedIn to reach a key constituency we were having trouble reaching - thousands of people who play a specific role in the waste management industry. We got responses from key players.
I strongly recommend SMT. Their strong organizing background, preparation and thoughtfulness made our strategy assessment with them enjoyable and really helpful.
The Design Apprenticeship course helped me become bolder in my design choices. I became confident enough to push for a more systemic approach to design in the team, developing templates and guiding other creative colleagues. This program was pivotal in my development as a designer!
I found a lot of value in this Certificate Program that I use in my everyday work: from using social media effectively; significantly growing accounts and activating people online, pressuring targets in campaigns, and running Twitterstorms. Even when using other tools, I still apply the principles I learned!
We’ve heard really good things from our grantee partners. SMT has a strong, grantee-focused way of working.
The program gave my team the tools and time to strategise how our grassroots migrant organising translates to a digital context. I picked up tools like source codes, which then enabled us to see that more people were registering from Instagram than through any other platform and caused us to adapt our strategy. We also became SMT an Outreach Partner to enable our network to benefit from trainings at lower prices
The trainings are terrific–geared for every level of experience. And being rooted in social change movement, especially helpful to organizers.
Our staff took a lot of SMT courses – including the intensive Digital Campaigning Certificate Program. It helped us take our digital campaigning and collectivizing actions to the next level! We used various tools to increase our follower base and successfully target authorities to take action at the village and municipal levels in India.
SMT is the only training I know of that speaks our language of activism and uses the tools we use everyday in the field. They are a go-to resource to help raise the bar for communications in the labor movement.
I took the workers organizing in the digital age training. We really need this kind of training in Finland, which people in the US have had access to for some years. The training was effective to start organizing for instance on Twitter.
I implemented lessons on personal narrative, public narrative and emails directly into my campaign, so this was an instant gratification. I loved learning from the other Digital Campaigning Certificate Program participants who came from around the world, working on different topics.
SMT helped us create a social media presence to expand our cannabis worker organizing campaign. Our organizers have enhanced their social media capabilities. We have succeeded beyond our expectations. Working with SMT has been a great experience. They really understand organizing and communications.
We have had a fantastic experience with SMT…they have been highly responsive to the needs of our grantees.
SMT helped us craft an effective public narrative for our campaign to get a mine closed. SMT helped us finalize a campaign strategy and come up with an effective plan to raise visibility and engage the public. Our campaign led to a pause in the mining. We will keep fighting!
SMT coaching enabled us to expand our presence within human rights spaces in Kenya beyond an LGBTIQ audience. It helped us use Twitter to connect with allies in the environmental justice and land rights movements. It was amazing to have someone to work with who knows our work and give us templates just when we needed them.
Having access to experts through the certificate program was amazing. The course is so practical. I set up google ads for the first time and created our digital security policy and implementation plan. Our whole team uses the campaign strategy template now. Now we know how to improve our email deliverability and started a texting program.
SMT has worked with us to develop and implement a broad and integrated social media strategy. They helped our leadership understand the importance of such a strategy and taught our activists the basic skills to execute it. From website maintenance to targeted twitter campaigns, they are there when you need them and they understand that it is all about movement building.
Our coach was an everyday reminder of what we needed to do. He checked in and followed up on us. It really helped us activate Twitter in our campaigns and tighten up digital security. We moved from just having a Twitter handle to building on a hashtag that saw a jailed human rights activist released from prison.

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