We send thank you notes to donors and good organizers do what they can to thank their activists and volunteers. But it seems difficult for groups to acknowledge the power of the people – the huge cross-section of regular people that give up their time – that together make our work bigger and better than it could be if we were just staff out doing our work.
A friend, Apollo Gonzales, recently shared the story of a project he started when he worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). Apollo and his team wanted to recognize and acknowledge the people (and their power) that made NRDC’s advocacy successful. Apollo tells the story best:
Before I left NRDC in 2011 I started a project that was aimed at telling the story of how our advocates and members were a major force in the work we were doing. I wanted to tell a story that told the importance of people power. I interviewed staff who I knew had been with the organization for a long time, and who I knew had a passion for how people drove the victories we were winning. This story took shape as a video, and for a thousand little reasons we were never able to get past a script and story boards. It was the one thing I regret not having finished in my time there. Yesterday, my dear friends at Giant Ant sent me the final version.
The team at Giant Ant wrote about the project:
We worked with the NRDC (Natural Resource Defence Council) to tell this story meant to harken back to their activist roots. Despite being a organization focused on litigation, they wanted to remind their activist base that all of these stories start on the ground with full hearts and loud voices. We wrote the story as a piece of spoken word poetry, intentionally using a medium of self expression.
Perhaps the most important role an organization can serve is to gather disparate people and resource to catalyze potential and turn it into greater energy – a sum much larger than its parts. It’s critical to understand the value of that role organizations serve and to nurture the power that people, together, have.