How are Organizing Groups Organized?

By Structure

  • Institution-based organizations are federations of local institutions such as churches, labor unions, and civic associations. When solely comprised of religious institutions, they’re known as congregation- or faith-based organizations. By design, these organizations are multi-issue, multi-constituency, and interfaith in character and generally devote a great deal of attention to developing members and leaders.
  • Individual membership organizations are comprised of individuals or families who generally contribute dues and time, or make some other commitment to signal their affiliation. In some instances the membership may be defined by a specific constituency, such as women, youth, immigrants, or racial or ethnic identification; in other cases, the membership is multi-constituency and defined by geographical parameters, such as a neighborhood, city, county, or state.
  • Issue-based coalitions are alliances of existing organizations – unions, churches, advocacy groups, civic or neighborhood associations, and human service agencies – to pursue a common policy agenda. They generally focus on a single issue (such as housing, health care, or education), can be temporary in nature, and tend to be less concerned with the development of individual members and leaders than institution-based organizations.

By Geography

  • Neighborhood organizations typically focus on issues of local scope and impact, such as schools, housing, zoning, commercial development, or public services.
  • Citywide organizations are designed to unite neighborhoods, constituencies, or social groups on issues of common concern. They may be unitary organizations or federations of neighborhood and constituency-based groups. Metropolitan or regional organizations are similar, but consciously designed to bridge inner-city and suburban communities.
  • Statewide organizations are typically comprised of local or regional chapters that operate autonomously on local issues but work together on statewide legislative and policy campaigns.
  • National formations in community organizing range from relatively centralized organizations with local chapters to organizing networks whose affiliates are structurally independent but share a common worldview, methodology, training system, and/or policy agenda.

Takeaways are critical, bite-sized resources either excerpted from our guides or written by GrantCraft using the guide's research data or themes post-publication. Attribution is given if the takeaway is a quotation.

This takeaway was derived from Funding Community Organizing.

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