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organize other people

Multiply your efforts and your enthusiasm into action from other people. The world is biased towards people that collaborate for a common cause and/or speak with one voice. The downside of this is that other people and businesses with values conflicting with yours collaborate to successfully change the world in their favor. The upside, the good news, is that by organizing other people, you change the world for the better as you see it. There are two ways to organize other people...

Lead. Guide or direct a group, committee, or project. For instance, be a team leader for a political party project. Offer to be on the Board of Directors of a community service organization. Perhaps start your own group, committee in an organization, etc.

Recruit. Invite people to join a cause and instigate real-world action from them. If a cause is important to you, it's probably important to others too, but they may need someone to spark their interest. Your ability to recruit people to volunteer for worthy causes is a great way to participate in the world around you.

Organize Within an Existing Group

All non-profits and political groups need volunteers. Most can also use leadership and organization help if you can offer it. For example, help a political campaign coordinate their volunteers or organize fundraisers for a community service organization.

If an organization is already doing what you want to do, you may get more results for the same number of hours organizing and volunteering by helping an organization that already exists rather than creating a new group. Give your favorite organizations a call and ask how you can help them organize or lead any project or team.

To find groups that support your values, check the Particip8 Volunteer page.

Create Groups or Instigate Action

If no one is already doing what you want, invite people to meet either informally or formally to do it. Start a letter-writing campaign. Lead a community service project. Recruit strangers for a new project. Send an e-mail at work to encourage people to write their congressperson. Lead a group to register voters at local supermarkets.

Organizing others is easy and you don't need to officially create organizations to be useful. Simply gather friends with similar interests to work together.

If appropriate, you can agree on a group name and start talking to people with one voice. For instance, you could influence newspapers and other journalists by speaking as or representing an organization. For instance, "Parents against Proposition XYZ" or "Teachers for Campus Free Speech".

If you want to do this with little paperwork, you can "do business as" (DBA) an organization name even when it's really another name for you. This is also called a Ficticious Business Name (FBN). There may be other forms and/or requirements, depending on your local laws. Call or show up at your town's City Hall and ask how it works.

Although you don't have to, you can make yourself a separate organization in the eyes of the law. Official group status has benefits such as reducing your personal liability and making it easier to raise money through donations and grants. Depending on what you want to do, you could set up a non-profit organization that gets tax benefits that can increase your ability to raise money because you can accept tax-deductable donations. This takes extra time, meetings, and organizational structure. For more information, read this, this, and this. You can buy a good book here. California residents should buy this or this. Note that if the group is political in nature, it might not get tax-exempt status.

Leadership and Organization Skills

Choose focused and achievable goals. Choose some focused and achievable goals for you and for the people you are trying to organize. To keep yourself and others engaged in a task, some goals should have measurable success. For instance, staff a booth all weekend for a fundraiser, or get one local newspaper to publish an article on an issue.

Be enthusiastic. Enthusiasm for a project or organization keeps people focused and increases people's commitment and follow-through.

Stay on message, on task, and on time. Figure out what you will do then do it. Keep people focused and on track (including during meetings) to encourage group success.

Delegate responsibly. Figure out what you will do and what could reasonably be delegated. Also, find appropriate people to delegate to. Don't let people overcommit or be coerced into signing up for something that they won't do. Know your own limitations and don't overcommit yourself, even if you have to limit group goals or expectations.

Motivate and reward. Figure out how to motivate others. Most volunteers want to help a cause, but it's still important to motivate them. One way is genuine appreciation from leaders and others. Consider broader recognition such as thanking a contributor in a newsletter or a group meeting.

Understand concerns. Make sure you understand problems and concerns from everyone before creating solutions. Listen open-mindedly. You may need to set your own beliefs aside in exchange for credibility to lead people. People want their voice to be heard. Then, try to satisfy some if not all of these concerns with creative win-win solutions.

Involve people early in solutions. Involve people in decisions early on rather than "selling" your choices after the fact. Turn them into salespeople for final decisions, rather than accidentally creating resistance to certain ideas.

For other good info, read Carter McNamara's Field Guide To Leadership and Supervision.