Model Group Structure and Decision Making Processes

Move to Amend recommends that groups use a project-based structure that allows the group to propose projects that reflect campaign goals and capacity. The project-based model also makes the core affiliate group, not the coordinator, the locus of accountability while building in a system of report-backs that ensure that knowledge is shared and work has continuity.

Structure

In the project model, there are a few anchor positions that are constant in the group. One person or a team of very committed people take care of these tasks.

Anchor Positions

Volunteer Coordination

  • Inputs new volunteer signups
  • Follows up with signups to invite them to meetings
  • Organizes phone banks to get volunteers out to events and big meetings
  • Prepares a volunteer intake form to determine a volunteer’s abilities and interests
  • Welcomes new people to the group and does a brief orientation with them before plugging them into the group
  • Works with other working groups to determine their volunteer needs

Finance/Fundraising

  • Works with working groups to determine budget needs
  • Creates and implements fundraising plan (grants, events, phone banks) in larger group
  • Writes checks, keeps books and receipts

Media (This group has some ongoing tasks and some tasks that are project-based.)

  • Update Facebook, Twitter, and website
  • Writes and sends organizational emails
  • Writes press releases and reaches out to media
  • Identifies spokespeople for events
  • Builds press list
  • Develops press plan for campaign
  • Gets radio, TV and print gigs
  • Coordinates LTEs and Op-ed ongoing

Facilitation

We recommend that groups rotate this job. Every meeting, someone signs up to facilitate. They review Move to Amend’s facilitation webinar, facilitation tips, and meeting tips. Then they call for agenda items, make the agenda, and then lead the meeting. Before the next meeting, they help train the new facilitator and gives them feedback after the next meeting. This way we grow a critical organizing skill while sharing the work.

Proposing a Project

For all non-anchor work, any person in the core group can propose a specific, timely project.

The person proposing writes out a proposal and sends it out before the meeting.

In it, she explains:

  • The idea.
  • The goal of the project and how it relates to broader campaigns
  • The specific volunteer roles and resources required to do it
  • A general project timeline with important benchmarks

The idea behind the project-based proposal is to:

  • Empower all group members to propose ideas
  • Ensure group capacity for a project
  • Ensure that the group is doing targeted projects that advance their goals in measurable ways

The group discusses the proposal at the next meeting. If they consense, they pick a Project Coordinator (usually the person who proposed the project) and she starts filling the volunteer roles. They cannot start the project until they have the roles filled.

The Project Coordinator is responsible for:

  • Recruiting to fill all volunteer roles
  • Calling project meetings
  • Following up with project group volunteers to make sure people are completing their tasks
  • Training project team members on skills they need to do their work. Growing a team of organizers, not just volunteers.

To ensure that people do not overstretch themselves or burn out, leadership members could be involved in no more than two projects at one time. Anchors are urged to focus on their anchor roles and sign up for a project only when they have capacity to do so.

Accountability

At each future Leadership meeting, there is a space on the agenda for project group report-backs. The Project Coordinator updates the group on the goals, the work, etc, and the group can ask questions and make sure the work is being done. If the project is not progressing, the core group can move to stop the project.

Report-backs help keep everyone updated on everyone else's projects without having to be in all of them, and it creates a group accountability process instead of putting the task of following up on one person. The brain, the work, and the follow-up tasks are shared in the group.

Meetings

If you are running a campaign, you will need to meet with your core planning group and your large volunteer base regularly.

We recommend dividing your organizing meetings as follows:

Core Organizing Collective Meeting

  • The Organizing Collective is comprised of Anchor volunteers and Project Coordinators.
  • The Project Coordinators can delegate someone from their group to attend meetings and report back for them if necessary.
  • Any volunteer who has been through a Move to Amend orientation (call or in person) can also attend and make decisions.
  • The Organizing Collective meets twice a month for two hours each.

All-Volunteer Working Meeting

  • These are working meetings where project teams can check in, plan, train and complete tasks together.
  • The meeting begins with information that everyone needs. This might be a training, an update on the campaign, a report-back from a national call, or a discussion. After this intro, people break up into working groups and come back together and report on progress at the end.
  • These meetings are great places to send new recruits. After the intro, the Volunteer Coordinator/Team meets with all new volunteers and gives them a short orientation to Move to Amend’s vision, plans, values and campaigns both nationally and locally. They can hand out brochures, talking points, or a primer on local activity. The Volunteer Coordinator then meets with volunteers to determine background, interests and skills. She uses this information to plug volunteers into working groups. The Volunteer Coordinator also makes sure that the new volunteer has signed the petition and gotten hooked into internal communication.
  • During campaigns re recommend holding volunteer meetings 1-2 times a month, depending on need/urgency. Some groups might prefer to meet once a month with their core group and twice with the volunteer base, or some other combination. Find out what works best for your group.

Decision-Making

Move to Amend is committed to democratic decision-making, both because we believe in everyone’s right to participate and because we want to work on the skills that we’ll need to build a true democracy.

We recommend following a consensus process.

To learn about the values, purpose steps of consensus, go here. We recommend trading facilitators each meeting, and that a prior facilitator train a new facilitator to lead the next meeting. At each meeting, try to follow the consensus model and get feedback from the group at the end.

To organize your meeting, read these tips. Be deliberate about choosing roles and sticking to the time and agenda.
 

Thanks to Move to Amend Salt Lake City for providing an excellent example of how to structure a MTA group and make decisions! This template is based on their group process and policies. Feel free to contact them directly if you have questions.

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