How We Organize

This article explores how we organize in teams to get things done.

RISE is a movement, and movements start at the grassroots. HQ is here to help organize, but the real work of making change happens at the local level. To make it go, our thousands of volunteers break up into smaller groups to support each other and hold each other accountable for the tasks we need to do. Sometimes these groups will compete in mini challenges, but ultimately, we'll all pulling in the same direction.

The basic building block of our organizing approach is neighborhood teams. With some exceptions we have one team per zip code and the goal is to have 5-15 people on a team. Teams should be big enough to be effective, but small enough that everyone can get to know each other and everyone can fit in someone's living room for a phone-a-thon or just to exchange ideas. If a team gets too big, it might be necessary to split it into two teams. Since people on teams usually become friends, we try not to do that too often, but when it happens think of it as an opportunity to meet great new RISErs. If your team is still a little small, recruit your neighbors!

Each neighborhood team has a captain. The captain's special jobs are to distribute tasks to the team and report results to HQ. The captain also greets and meets with new members as they join. Each captain is regularly in touch with a city-level organizer who is in touch with a state-level organizer and so on up to HQ. This ensures that everyone is getting personal attention instead of having to wait for a single person at HQ to coordinate things. (This technique is called Snowflake Organizing since the organization chart looks like a snowflake with HQ at the center. Snowflake organizing was used effectively by President Obama in both 2008 and 2012.)

RISE encourages each team to set up a Facebook Group (or use any other online tool you like.) Just make sure that you let us know what you're using so we can tell new members where to find their teams online.

When a new volunteer joins RISE, our system will automatically assign her to a team according to her zip code. It will also send an email introducing the new volunteer to her team captain. We suggest they find a time to get together for coffee or the beverage of their choice so the new volunteer can learn about RISE and what we do. If there wasn't already a team in the volunteer's zip code, a new one will be created with the new volunteer and the city organizer.

It's a good idea for teams to get together pretty regularly - at least once per month or so. A local coffee shop or any team member's living room are good places for it. This helps build relationships and it's also good for general support.

If something changes and you don't have time to keep volunteer (or you relocate and want to join a new team), just let us know. 

Have any questions? Email us!


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  • Dan Ratner
    published this page in Blog 2017-01-24 14:52:04 -0600