Working with the Community: Activist Milestone #11

Build a Coalition of Community Allies

 

RESULTS Coalition-Building Model — “The Pyramid”


Your community is made up of many different constituencies who care about the same issues we care about. One helpful way to think about creating a broader community of support and action is to imagine it as a pyramid.

At the top of the pyramid are the movers and shakers in your community or “grass tops.” These people possess political clout, and can help your group influence legislators and the media. These individuals are localpoliticians, doctors, clergy members, professors, or friends of members of Congress who may not want to participate on a full-time basis with RESULTS, but would be willing to make calls, meet with decision makers, provide critical information, write op-eds and letters, and take action on a strategic basis.

Your RESULTS group sits in the center, organizing activities in your community.

The middle of the pyramid is your local RESULTS group. You are the glue that holds the network together and a vital source of information and actions for other organizations and individuals trying to make a difference. Activists in your chapter must be willing to reach out to and maintain personal contact with the “grass tops” and your broader Action Network. Determine the best way to maintain their enthusiasm and connection. Is it monthly meetings? A quarterly update gathering? Phone calls? A newsletter?

Your RESULTS Action Network forms the base of the pyramid.

The bottom of the pyramid is made up of community partners your group can network can enlist to make calls or write letters at short notice. You may also work on bigger projects like a World AIDS Day event or staffing a table at a local fair. These partners may include church organizations, Jubilee or ONE Campaign chapters, local food banks, Head Start parent groups, or students.

The pyramid is a good way to think about expanding your influence on our issues. Collaboration is key in any social justice movement — the more players in the game, the sooner we’ll all get to the goal. Your group can play a key role in gluing this network together to produce maximum impact as we move our issues forward.

 

Reaching Out to Community Groups and Officials to Build the Pyramid


Why focus on networking? There is an Ethiopian proverb that sums it up pretty well: “When spider webs unite, they can tie up a lion.” By working with community groups and key local officials, we can leverage political clout for our campaigns AND build the profile of our work in our own cities and towns.

Many of you already have a strong set of connections with local organizations and officials; the lists that follow will help you brainstorm other organizations or officials that you may not have thought about contacting already. For others, this may be your first opportunity to speak to your natural “allies” about the work that you have already been doing for years. Your group can use the lists to identify local contacts, and the planning tools to put together an action plan for your own networking. (For more information on a unique networking tool called powermapping, check out our training module on the topic. The presentation begins at the 8:30-minute mark of the online module.)

Step One: Identify local organizations, groups of activists, officials and influential members of your community that you can contact. (The suggestions below are just suggestions. Think creatively!)

 

COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS:


Check your yellow pages under “Social Service Organizations” or search the Internet for specific names of agencies and organizations as well as for other ideas.

Community Action Program

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Urban League, NAACP, Other

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Neighborhood Associations

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Immigrants / Refugees

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Poor People’s Organizations

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Hunger Coalition

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Welfare Reform Coalition

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Food Bank

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Food Pantries

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Homeless Shelter

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Soup Kitchen

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Women’s Center / Organizations

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Domestic Violence Program / Shelter

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Transitional Housing

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Veterans Organization (Activists)

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Citizens League

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Head Start (including policy council)

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Latino Community Organizations

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Peace and Justice Organizations

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League of Women Voters

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Youth Organizations

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Labor Unions

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National Conference of Christians and Jews

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Other

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POLITICAL ACTIVISTS:


Think of people involved in politics — volunteers, state officials, or county officials — who might be too busy to be partners, should know about RESULTS, and might have ideas for people who might be involved.

Green Party

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New Party

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Democrats

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Republicans

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Other

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Other

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FAITH COMMUNITIES:


Any denomination is good, but here are some with a particularly strong history of involvement in social action. Ask ministers, rabbis and other spiritual leaders to refer you to members of the congregation who would be interested in RESULTS issues.

For additional inspiration on how to involve faith communities in your group’s advocacy work, take time to explore our Faith in Action resources.

Urban Ministries

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Interfaith Coalition / Council of Churches

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Society of Friends (Quakers)

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Unitarian Universalist Association

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United Church of Christ

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Presbyterian

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United Methodist

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Episcopal

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African Methodist Episcopal

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Baptist

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Islamic Communities

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Lutheran & Lutheran Social Services

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United Church of Christ

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National Conference of Christians

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Jewish Congregations

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Other

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Catholic

 

Diocese _______________________________________________

Office of Social Justice and Peace __________________________

Catholic Charities ______________________________________

Catholic Worker / Dorothy Day House _____________________

Religious Orders: (Nuns / Brothers) _______________________

Parishes

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COLLEGES / UNIVERSITIES:


The division of student affairs is the first department you should research when beginning outreach efforts on college and university campuses. Typically, student organizations are coordinated through this department. Faculty within this department can direct you to student leaders, activist organizations and student-led events and may be able to assist with coordinating activities.

College ________________________________

 

Chaplain / Campus Ministries _______________________________

Volunteer / Coordinator ____________________________________

Service Learning Coordinator _______________________________

Student Organizations _____________________________________

Departments

 

Sociology __________________________________________

Political Science ____________________________________

Public Health _______________________________________

International Development­­­ _____________________________

History ____________________________________________

Psychology _________________________________________

Nutrition ___________________________________________

Early Childhood / Education ___________________________

Family Science _____________________________________

Communications ____________________________________

Other _____________________________________________

 

 

HIGH SCHOOLS (and Middle Schools):


Here you will find great spirit and creativity to be tapped! Again, a teacher-coordinator is important.

 

High School ____________________________________________________

Departments

 

Social Science ____________________________________________

History __________________________________________________

Civics ___________________________________________________

Speech __________________________________________________

Psychology _______________________________________________

English __________________________________________________

Other ___________________________________________________

 

 

JUST FOLKS:


Perhaps the most important source of partners is people you know, regardless of their affiliation or professions. Think about the people you care about, the people in your life, the people who share your interests and concerns.

Co-workers

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Relatives

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Neighbors

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Friends

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Members of your church

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Acquaintances

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Step Two: Develop a timetable and a support system for networking and coalition building. (The fourth column below is very important; e.g., “check in with my group leader via voice mail every Friday afternoon” or “e-mail Sally on Tuesdays about progress”).

WHO WILL MAKE THE CALL?

WHO WILL BE CONTACTED?

BY WHAT DATE?

WITH WHAT SUPPORT (check-in at meeting, e-mail , etc.)?

       
       
       
       
       
       

 

     
       
       


Step Three: Have a clear idea of different types of activities or projects you can ask others to take on. For example:

Brainstorm — list of network activities.

Basic level of involvement: _______________________________________________________

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Intermediate level of involvement: __________________________________________________

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Advanced level of involvement: ____________________________________________________

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Step Four: Pick up the phone and do it!!!!

  • Basic level of involvement: Sign on as an endorser to our campaign or agree to attend coalition meetings.
  • Intermediate level of involvement: Host RESULTS volunteers to Speak About Our Issues, cosponsor a community event to raise awareness, or speak at press conference.
  • Advanced level of involvement: Send out action alerts to entire mailing list, agree to use staff time to build resources (grassroots network, money) or mobilize influential board members to use political access to raise the issues.