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Building Technological Infrastructure and Capacity

Increasing Organizational Efficiency Through Technological Strategy

Organizing & Capacity Building at the Center for Popular Democracy:

Builds strong organizing partners. 
Through an annual work planning process with each our partner organizations, we develop a sense of their organizational development priorities and define a set of interventions that CPD can provide to help meet those priorities.  These customized interventions typically include on-site training, meeting design and facilitation, working alongside partners on campaigns or other projects, coaching, and leveraging relationships with...

Organizing & Capacity Building at the Center for Popular Democracy:

Builds strong organizing partners.  Through an annual work planning process with each our partner organizations, we develop a sense of their organizational development priorities and define a set of interventions that CPD can provide to help meet those priorities.  These customized interventions typically include on-site training, meeting design and facilitation, working alongside partners on campaigns or other projects, coaching, and leveraging relationships with funders or allies.  In delivering these supports, our staff members develop durable relationships with partners, which are vital to engaging those partners in joint campaigns and other collective endeavors.  In 2016, we will design and implement customized workplans with each of our 43 partners, making this the third year that we have carried out this practice as a network.  We also build relationships with new partners to bring them into our network, and occasionally build new organizations in strategically important geographies, to expand our collective capacity to win on issues important to low-income communities of color.

Aligns our network.   We engage our partner organizations in dynamic convenings, where they build relationships and a shared vision for our work together.  These convenings, which have brought together lead staff, front-line organizers and member leaders, allow us to take action together on issues central to our work, to learn together, and to lay the foundation for increasingly ambitious shared endeavors in the future. This year, we will hold our largest convening to date, the People’s Convention, in Pittsburgh, PA in early July, which will engage 1500-2000 core CPD stakeholders, primarily member leaders, from across our network.

Develops Leaders. Core to our work is a range of leadership development programming targeted toward organizers at all stages of their careers.  Over the course of 2015, we developed and delivered training modules to support new organizers, mid-level organizers with supervision responsibilities, and organizational leaders at our smallest partner organizations, including Executive Directors and Board members.  In 2016, we will replicate some of these trainings, and use our learnings from last year to launch a new, intensive program to support a cohort of 18-20 new Executive Directors, primarily women and people of color.  In coming years, we will continue to shape our trainings towards the goal of building a deep leadership bench at our partner organizations, including developing an ongoing pipeline program which will recruit, train, place and support Deputy Directors of color at our partners. 

Expands our base. Central to the success of CPD and our partners is the size and engagement of our membership base.  Over the past three years, we have built out our Sustainability Program, which works closely with partners to develop canvasses that build their dues-paying membership, and we will significantly expand this program over the coming year.  We also support our partners in building out their member leadership development programs, and co-develop political education and skills trainings for members with partner organization staff in order to deepen a culture of member ownership and leadership across our network.

CPD’s Organizing & Capacity Building team includes staff members with extensive experience training and supervising organizers, building and leading organizations, implementing ambitious leadership development and recruitment programs, and winning campaigns across the range of racial and economic justice issues central to our work and the work of our partners.  

Foundational to all of CPD’s Organizing & Capacity Building work is a framework that we refer to as our list of “organizational vital stats”.  Rather than being a top-down mandate from CPD to our partners, these benchmarks for organizational efficacy inform the content of our trainings, serve as a jumping off point for conversation with our partners in designing our support interventions, provide valuable goal posts for organizers who are seeking to strengthen their work, and allow our team to understand the impact our work is having. They are as follows:

Members:

  • Organization adds at least 400 new members per year per FTE outreach organizer to its total membership numbers
  • Organization mobilizes members (Small organizations: 50 members 6 times per year; 100 members 2 times per year;  Medium Organizations:  100 Members 6 times per year; 200 members 2 times per year; Large Organizations: 100 members 12 times per year; 300-1000 members 2 times per year)
  • Organization has a program for member leadership development that includes i) a transparent “leadership ladder” that members and organizers understand and rely upon ii) a program for member political, leadership, and skills development that yields a determined target number of “top” leaders, which staff and members understand and are accountable to

Model:

  • Organization can clearly articulate its organizing model and the core programmatic elements needed to support the actualization of that model (Our understanding of organizational “model” is a description of how the organization adds members, retains members, integrates members into campaign activity and other forms of organizational leadership, and supports and supervises staff to these ends)
  • Organization follows articulated practices for periodic planning, staff training and evaluation, member decision-making within the organization, membership recruitment, and member/leader development
  • Organization has adopted a database that tracks contacts and participation and has the data management, training and supervision systems needed to make the database work
  • Organization has adopted a digital toolset (advocacy tools, website, social media, etc.) that communicates with the database and configured these tools to complement their organizing model

Movement:

  • Organization has at least one clearly defined campaign plan, co-developed by staff, leaders and allies, that is winnable within 12 months, and wins
  • Organization has clearly defined campaign plans for all ongoing campaigns, co-developed by staff, leaders and key allies
  • Organization has right number of campaigns for staff and member base to manage (1 per .5 FTE campaign staff)
  • Organization engages with other important allies to advance its key campaigns, network and build relationships 
  • Organization takes advantage of opportunities to engage with other CPD partners and staff 

Money:

  • Revenue from membership dues accounts for a significant and growing percentage of the organization’s total budget
  • Organization has a target for increasing this type of income over the course of the year, and a plan for reaching that target
  • Organization has an accurate organizational budget, with projected income and expenditures
  • Organization has identified probable/committed funding prospects triple to its planned expenditures over the next 18 months and identified staff members accountable for advancing donor cultivation and proposal submission.
  • Organization tracks and transparently reports to key stakeholders on its funding plan.
  • Organization’s board approves annual budget and reviews and discusses regular financial reports 
  • Organization has systems in place to track 501c3 and 501c4 expenditures and these are followed by all staff
  • Organization internally or externally employs dedicated support beyond senior staff or organizing staff for all financial work including bookkeeping and accounting