The volunteers, leaders and staff of Citizen Action came to a realization last year: that the system for funding progressive causes needed an overhaul. If we ever wanted to get to the scale to tackle big problems we needed to organize as never before. But the traditional approach of looking to foundations and large donors was not a solution. Control of organizations and leaders default to those who can drop giant checks. Funding means power.
And we wanted to see if we could change it. Could we organize people without large donors? Could we organize people to own their organizations, to control them and decide themselves what we work on? We decided we had to try.
So on April 14th in Brookfield we launched a test. We would look for 200+ supporters in the Greater Milwaukee counties to support a local professional organizer with small monthly contributions of $20 or $30. This organizer's whole job would be to listen to members, help fight for their issues, reach out to new individuals and coalition partners, and generally advance the interests of these members. And we would do it in 60 days or less or we would cancel the entire project. Check out our short video explaining the idea.
We did it, and it worked. We found well over 200 member-owners to launch this project, hire a professional organizer and keep growing. The structure of this organization ensures that we must listen to our member-owners and we will expand to new ideas.
After this first group is up and running, with a steering committee, a new organizer and issue committees, we will want to know where to expand and try this model again. What do you think? Is your area ripe for new ideas? Would your friends and allies join a project that they control and direct? Tell us what you think.