about ten hands joined in the center

MEGAPHONE: Helping Human Rights Activists Collaborate and Improve

Over 100 human rights activists, NGO professionals, and journalists gathered in Budapest in November 2019 for the second annual MEGAPHONE. MEGAPHONE is TechSoup Europe's international two-day event that provides space for collaborative discussions and peer-to-peer learning.

Particapants were activists, action groups, and NGOs from Central Eastern Europe who are struggling in the era of polarization, misinformation, and social media algorithms. They came from 27 countries in Central Eastern Europe and Central Asia to share their experiences in working on human rights issues, such as civic engagement, the environment, women's rights, LGBTQ rights, and many more.

Twenty-three session leaders carried out 18 workshops and two interactive sessions. Among the topics were

  • Community organizing in Central and Eastern Europe
  • Fighting apathy
  • Engaging wider audiences
  • Creating podcasts
  • Using digital marketing in times of crisis
  • Enabling constructive dialogue
  • How improv can make activists more effective

The workshop format of the event limited the number of participants, but as organizers and session leaders, we wanted to share highlights, takeaways, and educational materials. We hope it helps you connect and activate your communities so that you may transform them for good.

Check out highlights in the video below.

Themes That Promote Change

November's MEGAPHONE had three main thematic threads.

Countering Disinformation. Dis- and misinformation goes beyond politics. It also affects civil society. One of the goals of the deliberate spread of inaccurate information is to divide and polarize communities. Activists need to be fluent at recognizing the techniques through which disinformation narratives are created and distributed in order to successfully counter them.

Mobilizing and Building Constituencies. We need to be better at responding to new forms of civic engagement as they emerge so that we can activate constituencies to build movements. Polarization and divisions are growing, but grassroots, bottom-up activism is also truly coming to life. What tools and strategies can we use to mobilize our supporters to act and to engage them for longer periods of time?

Shaping a Common Response. A sense of togetherness, joint responsibility, and unity is lacking in many of our working realities. Activists, journalists, experts, and influencers in different fields are working for the common good but are often not able to cross over the silos of their communities and peers. How can we bridge those gaps and build alliances that will allow us all to work more effectively?

Skills and knowledge exchange are important, but so is a sense of belonging to a community, a group of people who face similar challenges and are together trying to overcome them. With MEGAPHONE, we are creating a space where that can take place.

One participant said, "I realized, once again, that in civil society organizations, people need tech, but, most of all, people need people. And this is something we should never forget."

Advance Your Organizing Skills

Check out these fresh resources from the MEGAPHONE community of human rights activists.

Listen to podcasts recorded with session leaders from this year's MEGAPHONE, as well as from previous editions. They're also available on any platform you get your podcasts from.

And learn more about how to use social media to meet your mission through our four-episode MEGAPHONE webinar series: Social Media for Activists. Find out more here or register for the next one, "Vertical Storytelling," on Thursday, March 19. Check out all of the MEGAPHONE webinars on TechSoup's MEGAPHONE YouTube channel.

The 2020 MEGAPHONE event will take place from November 17 through 19, at a location to be announced shortly. Applications are by invitation only. Please contact mdurlik [at] techsoup [dot] org to find out more.

Additional Resources