We sent out an email and letter asking for your input on NOA's programs and our future. We gained a wealth of information from the 201 organizers, members, allies, funders, and others who replied with their past experiences, thoughts and opinions on NOA's programs and the state of progressive organizing.
We would like to share these highlights with you...
Who filled out the survey?
- A total of 201 people from around the country completed the survey
- We heard from a range of generations – nearly half of survey respondents are under 40, and half are over 40. Ten people are over 60 years old, and just a couple under 20.
- Just under half of our respondents are currently working as organizers. We also heard from directors, consultants and trainers, visual and performing artists, grant writers and fundraisers, advocates and funders, and a few retired and unemployed organizers.
- Most people shared demographic information with us: 25% identify as LBGTQ, 32% as People of Color, 62 % as female, 2% as transgender. In addition, folks self-identified as Southern, Asian American, immigrant, non-Christian, mom, working class, mixed race, Chicana, Jewish, extreme progressive, Puerto-Rican, Nicaraguan, Salvadoran, person living with HIV, bi-racial, liberal religious, socialist, Spanish/Cuban, Latina, person with a disability, African-American, partner of a transgender person.
How have they been involved with NOA?
- Most survey respondents have been involved with NOA for over 5 years, and almost 20% have been involved for more than 10 years.
- The majority of the respondents have attended the Gathering, used the job bank AND read the Ark regularly. About 25% of the respondents have attended regional gatherings, local meetings, used Practicing What We Preach, participated in the pension plan, and/or received assistance from NOA by phone.
- We also heard from folks who were founding members of NOA, steering committee members, consultants to the steering committee, staff and pension plan board members. Others that have raised money for NOA, used the website, networked with members, written for the Ark, developed on-going friendships through NOA, brought organizations into the pension plan, built alliances across race and class lines, and relied on NOA to recruit applicants for sabbatical programs.
What are the most vital programs NOA has offered over the years?
Of those who rated our programs, over 80% indicated that the following were either very important or important:
- Practicing What We Preach
- National Gatherings
- Organizers of African Decent
- Immigrant Organizing Communities
- NOA Pension Plan
- Job Bank
We received hundreds of responses to the following questions; here are some of the highlights.
What is indispensable that NOA has offered?
- The environment to meet others, learn, and teach
- Pension plan
- Someone looking out for organizers
- Bringing organizers together to share ideas and strategies and develop support networks across group lines
- Practicing What We Preach
- Forum for collective analysis
- National Gatherings
- Job Bank
- An opportunity for organizers to network, and think through ideas together
Is there something missing in the movement that you think NOA could provide?
- Places for organizers to learn and deepen their political analysis, broaden their horizons about other important organizing efforts, and expand their connections to other progressives.
- Management training for our leaders.
- Addressing the long-term sustainability of our movement through the care and feeding of the staff in our organizations.
- Healthcare assistance
- Creating a pipeline to get talented people in to organizing
- Articulating how small volunteer based organizations can stay alive
- A national organization that instills best practices and creates avenues for networking and cross-movement work
- The wonderful atmosphere of celebration at the National Gatherings to provide nutrients to organizers who often toil ceaselessly without the opportunity for play
- Pushing what are critical skills in organizing
- Bring folks together across geography, ideology, race, gender, etc.
- A network for independent community organizing groups, a learning community
What has NOA meant to members and allies?
- I've made or strengthened some of my closest associations within the movement through NOA activity
- NOA helped me get a handle on issues other people were working on
- A national network of like-minded organizers I could belong to
- A beloved community of social justice workers with a vibrancy and mix of people that has given me a lots of new connections, ideas and inspiration
- NOA has been like an alumni network, and been a wonderful network for meeting people, learning about organizing history, and culture, and staying in touch with my organizing colleagues
- A space for organizers to share reflections, visions and ideas for current practice
- It means that when I need to find dignified, paid work anywhere in the country, I can turn to the NOA online job bank
- NOA is a home, a foundation for this movement
- Liked the articles in the ARK as new fresh points of view, liked that NOA encouraged many younger people of color organizers and brought them together
What other comments or questions came up in the survey?
- I'm glad to know NOA is still hanging in there and am confident it will emerge with new and continued ways of serving the movement that we will all want to support. I'm grateful you are out there! Thank you.
- Could you break out the dues into quarterly payments?
- I had a bad experience with NOA in trying to set up our pension plan.
- I'm glad to know that NOA continues to exist, that you've hired a new director for the pension fund, and that you're looking ahead.
- NOA could move into the space that it had started to open before the organizational challenges took over – of busting open the rigid Alinskyist definitions of “organizer.”
- An opportunity for discussion about the dues structure as well as what people get for the investment.
- At this critical time in world history, and at this critical time for our movements, I think NOA would do the most justice by focusing on the aspects of its work that seek to create networks of organizers.
- I think NOA should have some criteria so that it is really including mainly organizers. Some of the Gatherings I went to had lots of great folks but many were not organizers, and that sort of diluted the value of the conversations and workshops for organizers.
- For NOA to prosper, we need a broader definition of “organizing.” My sense is, within NOA, there is a somewhat narrow definition of what constitutes legitimate approaches to social change.
- I'm eager to see what comes from this and where NOA goes from here…
How are survey respondents interested in supporting NOA?
- The vast majority of respondents (93%) said they would pay member dues, give a donation, or consider doing one of these in the next 6 months.
- Survey respondents referred 43 organizations to the pension plan.
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