An Idea for Big List Online Organizing

Together with Democrats.com, we’re trying to address an interesting – but extremely sensitive – issue. How can the important organizations with large lists of progressives work together to influence the outcome of local races of importance? Specifically, the kinds of races that often fall in the cracks: local, primaries, recalls, non-Federal, but in a context where the outcome can have national significance.

Examples abound: The New York City mayoral primary and the Colorado recall races against John Morse and Angela Giron come to mind for this September. Because of the importance of these local races, it is likely that groups we know and love with large national lists will weigh in – perhaps fundraising, perhaps volunteer opportunities, but for sure with endorsements and calls to help get out the vote.

And yet, more could be done.

Imagine a scenario where different progressive groups combine their names into a single CRM. Some black box mechanism that assures everyone that no one is stealing their names, no one is going to spam folks uncontrollably, but that coordinates the messaging. Imagine further that the names and emails on this shared list are matched with the voter file, so that even smaller chunks can be messaged for campaigners working in smaller geographic units, or that emails can be written ‘from’ someone who is close by. Imagine that this shared list is run through a social media matching service (like Attentive.ly) to figure out who the best prospects are for high touch engagement.

(By ‘coordinates the messaging’ we don’t mean send the same email to everyone, we mean making sure that it’s possible to reach the right people, at the right time, with excellent emails that are both responsive to campaign priorities, are seen as legitimate by the recipients, and that take into account the local news cycle. It can be done!)

I bet such an effort increases turnout for everyone in that shared list. In a low turnout race, that can make a big difference. More importantly, I think that the combined effort would boost overall turnout AND get national press, particularly if this kind of cooperation was trumpeted as a news story. It’s widely known in our circles that simply emailing people might not improve GOTV, but working a list in this fashion, early and carefully with an experienced local staff person taking charge, does not constitute a program of simply emailing to boost GOTV.

There isn’t much time if we wanted to roll such an effort out for September. On the other hand, so many of the obstacles DO have solutions, even if they require some fancy footwork and goodwill. Examples:

Privacy issues and ‘can’t pass on emails to other organizations.’ There are solutions to this. First of all, a combined effort of multiple organizations working in close partnership doesn’t constitute ‘giving emails to another entity.’ It’s entirely possible to work with a CRM that keeps track of every email address’ source, and for that CRM to be formally owned/managed by a consortium of partners.

Lack of staff time in the national orgs for such a small fraction of members. Well that’s the whole point. We can’t really expect the managers of national lists to be focused on a local race, which is why having a local person take charge of the process makes so much sense. Imagine what your list could do if it was worked in the most efficient manner for a specific race for a limited amount of time?

List members might complain. But isn’t that always true? This exercise isn’t about building a list or raising money for the large org, it’s about winning an election. And we can’t trust candidates and their campaigns to do it on their own, particularly in small races that might not have access to the staffing and talents of a statewide or national race. More importantly – our progressive list members want to be effective, want to be informed of how they can make a real difference. That doesn’t always happen in local races.

If you think this is worth doing – please say so and let’s be in touch. If you can identify obstacles or hurdles, even ones you think are insurmountable – please post or email them. Sometimes, what looks like a problem from far away is an opportunity when a talented group examine it close up.

(comment below or email me at clenchner@organizing20.org)

Interning For Organizing 2.0 Is Amazeballs

amazeballsHere at Organizing 2.0 we take internships seriously. So we’ve crafted a thoughtful description, posted it in a variety of useful places, and asked all our supporters to share on social media. But there’s nothing as powerful as personal testimony. So here goes:

Hey folks! My name is Katie and I just graduated Harvard. I know, being an intern isn’t always great—lots of busy work, and often little actual experience in the field you’re interested in. But when Charles asked me to help recruit interns, I couldn’t turn him down. I can honestly tell you that interning with Charles a few years ago was an amazing experience. I didn’t feel like an intern, I felt like part of his team.

That’s probably due in part to the small size of his team, but it’s also in large part because of the type of boss Charles is. As his intern, you might be in charge of everything from setting his schedule to helping run presentations to reaching out to contacts yourself. There’s no limit to what the intern can do, it’s just a matter of what you can handle. And that’s the genuinely cool thing about this opportunity: you can grow in your responsibilities as your term progresses. If you’re at all interested in online organizing, you’ll get more experience in this internship than anywhere else.

That’s from Katie, a native of Brooklyn and Russia who worked with me a few years ago.

More recently, I had the pleasure of working with Sam:

My name is Sam and I am a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin. Like many graduates, I didn’t have that much work experience when I left the bubble of college life and entered the real working world. I had done a few summer and mid-semester internships, but always found these work environments more of an opportunity for observation than contribution. Then I joined Charles. Within the first week, it became abundantly clear that I was not there to sit back and learn passively. Charles genuinely needed me to learn the trade and execute tasks to keep things moving forward. This is what I found so great about my experience interning with Charles- I was finally a contributing member of a team.

As my work progressed, I earned more and more freedoms and would say that I worked with Charles rather than for him. I learned so much so rapidly that around a month with Charles equated the same value for me as all my previous experiences. My daily work was dynamic and I learned tons of new areas of expertise: managing, supporter engagement, reporting, social media, design and more. I became more than an intern, I felt like an asset. So, if you are looking to really improve your skills in online marketing, organizing and writing- take this internship with Charles. But only do so if you really want to learn and work; and when you leave this internship, I promise you will be better prepared to enter the workforce. Your coffee making skills will not improve from this internship, but all of your other ones likely will.

Look, these are personal testimonies from people who have interned with me, Charles Lenchner. I’m going to be the primary supervisor for our Fall interns. So while most interns are focused on the letter of recommendation they get from their supervisors, candidates should be aware that at Organizing 2.0 we think about the letters of recommendation we’ll be getting from you.

If you like our approach – please apply to become our intern!

Organizing 2.0 Fall Internship

fill-this-intern-coffee-cup
We’re pleased to announce our brand new internship program. Please help us share this posting widely. It’s an excellent opportunity for anyone interested in labor, progressive communications, local politics and digital strategy. (Download flyer here.)

Fall 2013 Internship Open in New York City

Do you support social justice, equality, and other progressive values? Do your friends rely on you for political news and current events? Do you regularly use social media, blogs, and your smartphone to make your voice heard?

Organizing 2.0 is a New York-based organization committed to building power for workers and community organizing groups. We’ve trained over 2000 people in the last three years to harness online tools for organizing – and we want you to join us. [BTW, read what former interns have to say about working with us…]

What’s in it for me?

Our interns will be helping to organize training events, our annual organizing training conference, and using our tools in support of local labor struggles that need us. We’re a lean organization run by volunteers, which means you’ll have plenty of serious responsibilities, if you can handle them. No fetching coffee or photocopying in our office!

The ideal candidate is comfortable with technology, activism and progressive politics. Our ideal candidate wants to make a difference – strengthening labor groups and unions, helping marginalized people organizing from below and progressive political groups fighting for the 99%.

What You Will Learn:

  • How to plan and manage professional events from A to Z
  • Organizing software and tools including Salsa, Bit.ly, Google Analytics, WordPress, Thunderclap and more
  • The makeup of New York’s and America’s progressive movement(s), including labor, community organizing, and
  • progressive infrastructure
  • The basics of online marketing as applied towards social good
  • Nonprofit management skills

What We Require:

  • Knowledge of current events and comfort with social media
  • A passion for progressive political change
  • Highly organized, with an ability to prioritize time-sensitive assignments
  • Fearlessness – not afraid to be a bold and outside the box thinker
  • Honesty and integrity in fulfilling your commitments

It Would Be Great If You Could:

  • Use graphics, video editing and web development software
  • Point to previous leadership experience in clubs, student government and community groups

We strongly encourage applicants of diverse backgrounds to apply (PoC, LGBT, Differently Abled, or Undocumented.)

This is a rolling admission – we accept new interns during August and September.

  • Minimum commitment is 15 hours/week, preference for 20-40
  • 12 week minimum
  • Stipends of $500-$1000 a month available (25 hours/week and up)
  • Suitable for school credit in a variety of majors

To apply, click here. No phone calls or emails please.

Organizing 2.0 is a collective of communicators and online organizers working for unions and social justice groups. We run events, trainings, consult and promote uncommon interactions within and between our communities. We cross boundaries between labor, progressives, nonprofits, tech firms, faith communities and techies of all stripes. We are located near Union Square in a co-working facility.

Commitment to Intern Rights. We believe that many internships are exploitative and amount to unpaid slave labor imposed on young people interested in interesting and challenging careers. Our commitment is that you will not be performing the job of a paid staff person, this will be primarily a learning experience, and you will be treated at all times with respect.

Event: Organizers and Change-Makers, Not Martyrs (5/9/13)

You are an Organizer. You are a Change-Maker. You do this work because you have witnessed the power of you and your friends, working side by side for long hours, to alter the course of history.

In the culture of organizers at unions, campaigns or non-profits, we push ourselves because the suffering and obstacles we are up against are intense. And when it comes down to it, there can never be too many votes, too many donations, or too many activists marching for justice.

As organizers, we often fight harder for other’s health than our own. We know that health plans must include preventative care and our energy sources must be sustainable. We fight for wages that match the work being completed. But we often fail to apply these values to our own work.’

We can do better for ourselves and our organizations. Stress, overwork, and unhealthy work practices are accepted as the norm even though they cause lower productivity and burnout.

Join The Action Mill‘s Nick Jehlen , Dara Silverman and Organizing 2.0 for an evening about how we can move towards sustainability in our work as organizers.

RSVP Here for Organizers and Change-Makers, Not Martyrs on May 9.

The answers are in development from places like the Action Mill, which researches and designs tools that create better workplaces for people. They look at work habits, organizational structure, communication tools and more that have practical implications towards healthier and more resilient workplaces.

Nick Jehlen will discuss practical steps to reshape our unsustainable work, as is the the focus of The Action Mill. He will be joined by Dara Silverman, a consultant with experience developing and planning campaigns, supporting new and experienced organizers, fundraising, strategic planning, and board development

It is not just about taking better care of ourselves as individuals, but creating work environments that help everyone to be more productive over the long-term so we are ready to grow our movements and sustain them for the road to come.

Thursday, May 9

6:00-8:00pm

at the North Star Fund at 520 8th Ave, Suite 2230, Manhattan

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