- We organize for broad diversity and all inclusiveness, bringing as many relevant perspectives into the thinking as possible.
- We organize on the basis of vision, caring, and responsibility and not on the basis of anger or fear.
- We organize to recruit ever more allies and not to identify enemies or attack or embarrass any so called opposition.
- We organize to propose solutions and not to protest wrongs.
- We organize for the common good and not for self interest.
- We organize for completion and to win, not just be ethically or morally correct.
- We organize with a shared commitment to struggle together for positive change. This struggle is threefold: personal, interpersonal and global.
Our Organizing Strategies
A good organizing strategy is one that matches most of these criteria. The strategy should:
1. Result in Real Improvement in People’s Lives
If you can see and feel the improvement, then you can be sure that it has actually been won.
2. Give people a sense of their own power.
People should come away from the campaign feeling the victory was won by them, not experts or lawyers, or by the mercy of policy makers. This builds confidence to take on larger issues and loyalty by the organization.
3. Alter the relations of power.
Building a strong organization creates a new center of power that changes the way the other side makes decisions, and hopefully give communities greater influences on the changes to be made to improve their lives.
4. Be worthwhile.
Members should feel they are fighting for something about which they feel good, and which merits the effort.
5. Be winnable.
The problem must not be so large or the solution so remote that the organization is overwhelmed. The members must be able to see from the start that there is a good chance of winning, or at least that there is a good strategy for winning. Ask who else has won an issue and how, and then call on people with experience and ask for advice.
6. Be widely felt.
Many people must feel that this is a real problem and must agree with the solution. It is not enough that a few people feel strongly about it.
7. Be deeply felt.
People must not only agree, but feel strongly enough to do something about it. It is not enough that many people agree about the issue and don’t feel strongly.
8. Be easy to understand.
It is preferable that you don’t have to convince people that a problem exists, that your solution is good, and that they want to help to solve it. Sometimes this is necessary, however, particularity with those environmental issues where the source of the problem is not obvious, or the problem cannot be seen or smelled. But in general, a good issue should not require a lengthy and difficult explanation.
9. Have a clear time frame that works for you.
A campaign has a beginning, a middle, and an end. You should have an idea of the approximate dates on which those points will fall. Some time frame factors are internal, that is, set by your organization. Some are external, set by someone else. The timetable for an election is almost totally external.
10. Be non-divisive.
Avoid issues that divide your present constituency. Don’t pit neighbor against neighbor, old against young, black against white. Don’t be content to get the traffic or a drug pusher off your block on onto the next block. Look down the road a few years. Who will you eventually need to bring into your organization?
11. Build leadership.
The campaign should have many roles that people can play. Issues campaigns that meet most the criteria also build leadership if they are planned to do so. Train and place people in leadership and decision making capacities to build the strength of your members.
12. Set your organization up for the next campaign.
A campaign requiring employers to provide health insurance leads to campaigns on other health or employee benefits. On the other hand, a campaign to catch stray city dogs will likely lead to only catching more stray dogs. In addition to thinking about future issue directions, consider the skills the group will develop in the campaign and the contacts it will make for the next one.
13. Have a pocketbook angle.
Issues that get people money or save people money are usually widely or deeply felt.
14. Raise money.
This means having some idea of how you will obtain funding sources for your campaign.
15. Be consistent with your values and vision.
The issues we choose to work on must reflect our values and our vision for an improved society.
16. Be capacity-focused.
The issue you work on must utilize and provide community members to engage themselves using skills and resources that they can bring to the table. Focusing on needs, rather than capacity, trains people to clients and dependants, rather than equal participants and decision makers in creating positive change.