The best way to begin organizing is to start locally. You can check if there are any local Our Revolution groups in your area. If there aren’t any progressive groups near you, you can start one! Starting a small local group in your city or county shouldn’t be too hard.
As a group that started from scratch in 2016, we also have a few tips.
1) Get a group of like-minded progressives. We recommend reaching out to people of color organizations and communities early on to include them in the process of building your group. Establish a meeting time and space.
2) Write bylaws. These are the basic rules that your group will agree to adhere to. Have a small team make a draft, then propose it to the larger group for discussions and amendments, and vote to establish the bylaws. You’ll need to come up with a mission statement, officers roles and how to elect them, how to become an official member, forming committees, processes for endorsements, code of conduct, and processes on how to amend bylaws. Legally, an organization needs a Chair or President and a Treasurer. You’ll probably want other roles like a secretary, someone to manage the membership records, do web design, social media, graphic design, outreach etc. The roles might change as your organization grows. Here are our own bylaws.
3) File as an organization. You’ll probably want to be either a 501(c)4 or a 527. A 501(c)4 is a non-profit that can only spend less than half of its money on politics. A 527 can spend all of its money on politics, and has to adhere to strict finance disclosure laws. Consult with your local Ethics Commission, or Fair Political Practices Commission. You’ll probably need to file with your local county and your state, and file with the IRS. Learn about your disclosure deadlines and requirements.
4) Meet regularly. It’s good to come up with a rhythm. So for example, the SF Berniecrats has General Membership Meetings normally on the first Thursday of every month, and the Executive Board of Officers and other subcommittees meet once a month in between. You can then organize other outreach events, forums, tabling, and fundraisers in between.
5) Create Community Guidelines. People interested in politics are often opinionated, and so it’s important to think about how to create an environment that’s welcoming of everyone, where everyone’s voice is respected, and where people can learn and grow. The SF Berniecrats have developed Community Guidelines that we read at the beginning of every meeting to remind ourselves of the type of space we want to create.
6) Reach out. Outreach is important to build your membership. You can table at farmers markets, festivals, events, college campuses etc. It’s also important for you to show up as allies to other organizations. Show to actions organized by other groups working on specific issues, such as police violence, immigrants rights, environmental justice etc. Show that you’re there for the whole movement and build trust with other parts of the community.
Once you get the ball rolling, you can apply to be a local Our Revolution affiliate!