Grantee/Partner News

From Grievance to Governance: 8 Features of Transformative Campaigns

January 28, 2016

Grantee News From Movement Strategy Center:


One morning last December, I found myself at the Ford Foundation watching Anna GallandAi-jen Poo and Heather McGhee share a stage at an event called The Future of Organizing: Contesting for Power in a Changing World. The event, co-convened by National People’s Action, was designed to highlight alignment about a shared aspiration for the progressive movement. Watching these three women, together, left me beaming.

Over the last eight years, I’ve been honored to serve as a Field or Campaign Director for, the National Domestic Workers’ Alliance (NDWA), and Demos — the three organizations led by these brilliant women. The emerging alignment of these three organizations from different sectors and with very different capacities, inspired me to distill the lessons from working with them, and our allies, to lead transformative campaigns.

Transformative Campaigns are a means to create the operational alignment our progressive infrastructure needs to build a new, and specific, type of power: the power to govern based on our values. The capacities needed to govern are much different than the capacities we’ve needed to successfully elevate grievances and lead protests. In order to govern, we need political power. In order to govern with progressive and social justice values, that political power has to be independent from the two dominant political parties. That’s why a critical mass of progressive and social justice organizations is aligning around a strategic focus on building independent political power. Many of our organizations define Independent Political Power (IPP) as the scope of social change capacities that must be executed in coordination, in order to shift who governs and for what purpose.

A focus on building Independent Political Power is relatively new for many of our organizations. Infrastructure designed to make grievances is different than infrastructure designed to build the power to govern. To get somewhere different, we need to take a different path – which is why many of our organizations are experimenting with Transformative Campaigns.

Transformative Campaigns require us to do things differently. The momentum and work of these campaigns have been vehicles for organizations from the community-organizing field to expand their focus and capacities beyond protesting and mobilizing people on single issues. These organizations and their members are not content with protesting, changing laws or even transforming systems. Increasingly, they are working in complex networks and long-term partnerships to advance campaigns that change the narrative, put forward a political agenda, and elect their own members to political office. More>

By  |Jan 26, 2016



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