Tandem Tactics: Strategies that Complement Organizing

  • Service delivery. Some successful organizing groups offer services such as legal assistance, housing aid, citizenship and English as a second language classes, or job placement. “Many immigrant groups provide service delivery as well as organizing,” said a funder, and there are some organizing efforts that use legal or other services to draw people in the door before introducing them to organizing ethics and activity. The basic distinction is that the recipients of those services are “clients”; in community organizing, members are not clients.
  • Policy advocacy. There are many excellent foundation-funded advocacy groups that develop and press for policy change. “But they tend to pick their issues based on expert perspective and what experts think is the right thing to do,” said a consultant to foundations. By contrast, community organizing engages members and leaders in “framing and selecting the issue,” developing policy recommendations, and advocating for themselves. Working “bottom up” from their community experience, organizing groups may partner, sometimes very powerfully, with advocacy organizations. But members and leaders will be found in the middle of virtually every aspect of the activity, from analysis through legal promotion of change. Staff does not speak for them; they speak for themselves.
  • Research. Foundations fund research from institutions or academics that may lead to important new insights into social conditions and the need for change. Although organizing groups may use the products of such researchers, sometimes forming partnerships with them, their members and leaders have decided on the issues and are educating themselves to strengthen arguments and strategies. Research is used for action; indeed, in some cases organized communities use “participatory action research” (PAR) themselves, with assistance from researchers, participating in research techniques that can lead to the positive action they seek.
  • Public education. Many foundations interested in moving ideas in the public domain have funded public education campaigns and related efforts that target community members. But unless the campaign itself rises from the grassroots of a community, it’s not organizing. Public education that qualifies as organizing also engages community members and leaders, builds the capacity of the community, and carries momentum that can be leveraged for other organizing activities.

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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