Mobilizers, in our view, are part coach, part union shop steward, part social director.
DSA’s growth in the last year, and its expansion of organizing work, is one of the most exciting developments in the US left in recent years. But for that growth to translate to sustainable, durable power we will need to radically transform and democratize our internal organizing structures to ensure that our chapters are built on deep, transformative relationships and that new members’ interests, concerns and passions are reflected in their organizing work. We see member mobilizers - a system that has been developed thus far in both New York City and Philadelphia, and is attracting interest in other large chapters - as a key component to the organizational cohesion and growth of DSA. Mobilizers, in our view, are part coach, part union shop steward, part social director. Their work is the lifeblood of chapter democracy, and the muscle of our organizational power.
We offer this friendly addition of practical guidelines to the Spring Platform Mobilizers Priorities Resolution to include other considerations in the development of this program, but endorse their resolution fully and enthusiastically.
A set of specific goals
All chapters with membership above 100 have a mobilizer system by the end of the year
Goal: total of 1,000 mobilizers nationally trained by the end of the year
Establish a national membership development committee with the purpose of overseeing and assessing our membership leadership development and growth
- The membership development committee will support the new chapter mentorship program, which matches experienced organizers with new chapters and OCs in development.
The committee will work with local chapters via their mentors to help them develop goals that make sense for them for chapter growth.
There will be a special emphasis on supporting chapters with less than 200 members in growing to build critical mass in their local community
The membership development committee will make an assessment on mobilizer program progress after 6 months, and present recommendations for changes to the NPC
We see the role of mobilizers as
- Internal organizing + relationship building
Identify membership needs for training, political education and social events, ensuring that chapter programmatic decisions are informed by newer members that are less institutionally tied to the chapter. Newer members are also well situated to help the chapter maintain a welcoming culture that is capable of bringing in further new members, especially members outside the mainstream of the organization (for example, if an organization is predominantly mid-20’s to 30’s and college educated, older members can best suggest how to make the chapter more age-diverse)
Serve as a communication channel for members at the base up to chapter leadership. Particularly as chapters grow, it can be difficult for new members’ voices, priorities, questions and concerns to be heard unless they have pre-existing relationships with leadership. A grassroots structure of communication will ameliorate this issue, further supporting member retention
Help members get more deeply involved in campaign work, base building work, and political education with the hope of ultimately expanding chapters’ core base of leaders
Build relationships across different backgrounds/orientations within the organization to strengthen solidarity, understanding and communication across tendencies and communities within the chapter
Build relationships through organizing conversations and small group meetings with members who are outside the activist core of the organization to strengthen their affiliation and commitment to the chapter
One mobilizer for every 10 members in a chapter - 10-20 is generally the number of strong, ongoing relationships that most organizers can maintain in a way that is truly meaningful
- New organizing + chapter growth
- Mobilizers and their mobilizees help build local, neighborhood presence through various outreach, network mapping, and social initiatives
- Maintain the focus on building the largest community possible by making sure potential new members have a friendly, encouraging person to connect with
Help membership map and organize/recruit their own networks so we can maximize the power and capacity of our chapters
Help membership power map the community, drawing from the knowledge and experiences of members to assess opportunities for organizing, campaigns, and challenging local power
Work with members to identify workplace and community issues that resonate with communities with whom we want to build solidarity, where there are opportunities to organize
Accomplishing these goals will require:
Specific support for Mobilizer ‘train the trainer’ sessions in the regional trainings to build out this system
Chapter mentors to be trained to help new and existing chapters develop mobilizer networks
Monthly mobilizer skills webinars/calls to keep mobilizers up to speed on the national issues, feature stories from mobilizers, and learn new skills and frameworks and to build community
We estimate that this would take the following resources
10% of one staff organizers’ time, assuming $45,000 salary: $4,500
Rough estimate of extra funds for ‘train the trainer’ regional organizing trainings: $10,000
Total estimate: $14,500