Organizing Flywheel

There is a persistent problem in progressive organizing - we do not invest in organizing year-round, and we do not invest in organizing “everywhere”. Because a lot of organizing money tends to become available toward the end of the presidential cycle, we tend to “show up” a few months before the general election, and only in a handful of swing states.

One way to tackle this problem is to create an “organizing flywheel”: some kind of mechanism for creating financially sustainable organizing. The way this flywheel might work is that it takes some amount of initial up-front investment, e.g. to hire an organizer or run a series of events. The primary goals of such an investment would be twofold: a. score some “quick wins” for the community being organized, and create the beginnings of an organizing committee which works together towards those wins; and b. create some kind of business model which financially sustains the organizing committee and/or organizer even after the initial investment has disappeared.

If we could reliably produce such a flywheel, then we could stop the cycle of showing up once every four years. Instead, we could show up somewhat early in the swing states one cycle, and let the resulting organizations move forward after the cycle is over; by the time the next cycle starts, these organizations could be strong enough that we could “move on” to another set of swing states. Eventually we could create a somewhat universal network of local organizations that power progressive organizing year-round.

Credit to some great episodes of the Great Battlefield, especially Micah Sifry and Eitan Hersh. Megan Clasen also discusses a real-world example of this idea, based in Wisconsin, in her Great Battlefield interview, at 22:54.