Organizing 101: Flexing Collective Muscle for Public Support

1. Changing Your Thinking: One Person Can Make a Difference

When you’re running a youth arts organization, it’s hard to imagine that you can create sector-wide change on your own or that one single phone call to your elected representatives will really sway their vote.

The truth, though, is that one person can make a difference. Sending that email, writing that letter, or using social media to spread your message can—in concert with similar actions by other supporters—bring about real change.  As youth arts leaders, we have wide networks of funders, audiences, parents, and others that can make calls, write letters and emails, post to Facebook, and tweet. Together, you really can make an impact.

2. Learn How Public Money for Arts and Arts Policy Work

If you want to create change, it helps to understand how local and state budgets work and how public policies are created. You can then figure out how to engage in these processes and influence their outcomes.

Friends Committee on National Legislation Communication with Congress

Massachusetts Cultural Council Communicating with State Legislators

MASSCreative Action Center

National Education Association Writing to Your Legislators

Americans for the Arts Legislation & Policy Center

3. Mapping Your Collective Power

Download the Stakeholder Mapping Worksheet and use it with colleagues and partners in your community.

4. Forge Relationships with your Legislators!

Your legislators are people just like you who care about what their constituents—the voters—want and need. Build good relationships with them! Connect with them, keep them informed, get to know their staff, and invite them to your events.

Before that, do some homework. Learn what they care about. Identify the “hot” issues in their communities: Creating jobs? Preventing violence? Improving local schools? Tailor your organization’s story to connect what you do with their needs. How can you become a resource for them? How are you helping their constituents to thrive? How does your organization contribute to the community? Make sure you tell your story effectively, so that you’re seen as the asset you are to the community and its leaders.

Download the Storytelling to Create Change and use it with colleagues and partners in your community.

“Don’t say you don’t have enough time. You have exactly the same number of hours per day that were given to Helen Keller, Pasteur, Michelangelo, Mother Teresa, Leonardo da Vinci, Thomas Jefferson, and Albert Einstein.
H. Jackson Brown Jr.