Building Grassroots Capacity for Social Change

ROP’s mission is to build the capacity of our member groups. What do we mean by capacity? Ultimately, it is the power to make change. That power comes from being able to mobilize people to act on behalf of the democratic values we care about. The more people willing to stand up for those values, the more powerful we will be. This is why our primary focus is on groups, rather than individuals. While individual activists can make a difference, organized groups are able to mobilize in greater numbers.
What capacity-building services does ROP offer?
  1. Starting a Human Dignity Group
  2. Building your Group and Keeping it Strong
Starting a Human Dignity Group
ROP works with individuals wishing to organize in their own communities around the issues ROP cares about. We can provide phone support, assistance with outreach, agenda planning and facilitation of initial meetings. Priority for staff time goes to groups working on urgent social justice issues in communities where we do not currently have member groups. If ROP is not able to provide on-site staff support, we can always offer phone and e-mail support, answer questions and help strategize.  Types of questions ROP can help with:
  • How do I start a group? What do I need to think about?
  • Do we need to become a non-profit?
  • Should we hire staff?

Tools ROP offers: Leadership team development, sample by-laws and mission statements, examples of similar models.

Building your Group and Keeping it Going Strong

1.  Capacity Assessments
Is your group as strong as you’d like it to be? Are you setting bold goals and reaching them? Do you have a plan? ROP can help your group assess what is going well and prioritize things to work on to make your group stronger.  Tools: capacity assessment, followed by organizational retreat and work plan development.

2.  Building a Strong Leadership Team 
Organizations with a defined team of leaders are more likely to survive and be effective. Staff can work with your group on how to build your leadership team. We’ll meet with current leaders or members to make a plan for recruiting people to be part of your group’s leadership team. We can help you identify roles for leadership team members, create a process for orienting new leaders and assist with planning sessions.
3.  Developing a Strategy and Action Plan
ROP offers two types of strategy sessions: For issue-based strategy sessions, ROP staff facilitates a 1.5 – 2 hour conversation with your group to analyze a particular issue and make a specific action plan for your group on how to work on that issue.  In organizational action planning strategy sessions, ROP meets with your group to identify organizational priorities and develop an 18-month action plan.

4. Communication Systems
Is your group doing great work that no one ever hears about?  ROP can help your group develop systems for keeping track of supporters and staying in touch.  Tools: template for organizational database for use with Access software; sample guidelines for listserves; tips for effective e-mail communication; staff support in setting up a step-by-step communication plan.
5.  Base-building and Outreach
If your group isn’t growing, it’s shrinking.
6. Diversity, Solidarity and Being Allies
Is your group committed to diversity, but struggling over how to achieve it? ROP can help think through your groups’ goals, from overcoming oppressive dynamics to becoming effective allies against racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of oppression.
7. Retreat Planning and Facilitation
If your group is planning a retreat, ROP can help you create an agenda and facilitate it. Typically, this may look like an extended strategy session.
8. Organizational Issues
ROP can help your group be more effective in its work by offering support in areas such as:
  • By-laws, structure
  • Effective meetings
  • Fundraising
  • Decision-making process
  • Burnout
  • Taking action
9. Individual Leadership Development
Interested in becoming more effective as a leader? Wanting to encourage the talents of a new member of your group? ROP’s annual Caucus and Strategy Session is a great way to learn new skills, analyze current issues and connect with other activists. Also, leaders of ROP member groups get priority for scholarships to attend Western States Center’s annual Community Strategic Training Initiative. (One of the best training’s for grassroots activism in the country.) Ask us about where to get campaign training, or other training you may need to do your organizing.  In addition, ROP staff is available to provide problem-solving and moral support to individual leaders of ROP member groups by phone or e-mail.


Taking Action!
1. Types of questions ROP can help with:
  • What kind of political organizing can our group do without jeopardizing our non-profit status?
  • Can we endorse or oppose a ballot initiative as a non-profit?
  • What are simple activities we can do with such a small group that still make a difference?
  • What are some effective ways of getting our message out?
2. Kitchen Table Activism

Each month, ROP suggests a strategic and timely activity designed to provide a simple way for your group to engage in social change organizing or strengthen your group. These activities are posted on our ROPnet listserve and on the Kitchen Table Activism page of our website.
3. Tips for Activism
ROP can provide detailed information and support on the following:
  • Having a house meeting
  • Meeting with legislators
  • Organizing for a Town Hall
  • Writing elected officials
  • Letters to the editor
  • Interviewing candidates
  • Tabling
  • Designing a brochure
  • Writing a press release
  • Getting your story to the media
  • Planning an event
  • Pizza and postcards: simple actions
  • Responding to hate activities or hate crimes
  • Diversity in the schools
  • What makes a good e-mail message?