Energy advocates and online mobilization experts gathered at the Center for American Progress Action Fund in Washington, DC, to talk about successes and challenges in gathering activists both on and offline.

Heather Lauer, director of online strategy for the Pickens Plan, talked about the process of gathering the Plan’s 1.5 million-plus participants and building a social network to connect members. (As the technical partner of the Pickens Plan, The Bivings Group has provided ongoing development and support on the Plan’s web communications network, including its primary site and its Ning-based social action network, Push.)

Other organizations, such as the Energy Action Coalition, built supporter bases through focusing on the goals of a particular voting group. The EAC spread its message among young people throughout college campuses and focused empowering the under-30 vote.

No matter the strategy, all members of the panel agreed on the importance of coming together in a combined effort to face energy challenges and the need to reach out to a growing base of supporters.

"We have a tremendous amount of education that needs to be done and we also have no time. This is not something that the good guys are going to win on the inside," said Brad Johnson of

In order to reach a broader base, Michael Silberman of emphasized 1Sky’s tactic of organizing community events around key issues, which can be effective both online and off. Silberman and his team worked with Greenpeace to organize rallies and push constituents to contact legislators during Congressional recesses.

While enticing audiences to participate in specific events can be a highly productive way of gaining new members, participants on the panel said it is not as effective as maintaining a long-term, sustained strategy of support.

“We’re relying on dedicated members to motivate other members,” said Michael Sherrard, who works on’s recent Power Up America campaign. “To make real progress is going to require a building crescendo of organizing.”

On top of organizational strategy, the panel discussed effective messaging methods of both within their supporter bases and with the public. Panel moderator and Associate Director for Online Advocacy Alan Rosenblatt recommended using a closed-audience SMS communicator to share messages within your group, and “leveraging Twitter makes that dynamic more public” if you are aiming for a broader audience.

The Center for American Progress Action Fund promotes regular InternetAdvocacy Roundtable discussions as part of its Wired for Progress program. Online attendees can watch live streams of discussions and submit questions online. A listing of past and upcoming Internet Advocacy Roundtables is available here.