Indivisible is a movement of activists across every state, fueled by the partnership between thousands of autonomous local Indivisible groups and a nationwide staff that offers strategic leadership, coordination, and support.
Our organizing model is the intersection of organizing around national priorities and building and supporting groups. We take action together and flex our network muscles on our federal priorities at strategic movement moments. These key moments build power for the network as a whole and for individual groups. At the same time, the national organization provides resources and support to help local groups build their structures, recruit new members, and run local campaigns.
Indivisible is unique in a number of ways. The autonomy and different visions/priorities of Indivisible groups is one of the things that makes Indivisible so unique and special. To that end, as a national organization we make sure to actively listen and take in input from local groups/activists.
When we work together to drive forward national campaigns, we’re much more powerful. So we’re proud to not only listen to the Indivisible movement, but we often consider the input we get when planning programs, tactics and when developing resources for Indivisibles. This resource goes through when/how member listening impacts decisions and outlines some of the ways we listen.
When and How Member Listening Impacts Decision
As an organization we have a mission, vision and theory of change (read more at the About Us page on the website). These principles, values and strategic direction help guide our short and long term priorities/goals and are often also informed along the way by member listening.
One of the most unique parts of the Indivisible network is the autonomous, locally-led nature of your individual groups. Groups across the country have different logos, mission statements, goals and more based on what makes the most sense for their communities. Local Indivisible groups have decision making power over their group priorities, goals, actions, and leadership structure. However, we do ask all groups to abide by these four principles.
Indivisible staff will also have strategic suggestions for things like most effective tactics, strongest group leadership structures and will ask groups to take part in national campaigns. While groups can ultimately decide if they participate, we will be actively demonstrating the importance of showing up for national moments.
- Local groups can decide on their groups’ goals for election season
- Local groups can decide if they want to participate in Indivisible national campaigns
- Local groups can decide on their group leadership
- Local groups can decide how they want to collaborate with other grassroots groups or partner organizations in their states.
Indivisible’s Programmatic Work
Broadly, Indivisible’s programmatic direction follows our vision, mission and theory of change. This means, we have a strategic direction and vision that help determine short and long term goals.
Indivisible will ask groups to take action in national campaigns and to show up collectively in major moments -- we’re more powerful when we use our collective national voice. Formal or informal member input is reflected in much of Indivisible’s programmatic work, and member perspectives and priorities are a factor in many of the decisions made by staff.
As a side note, Indivisible's national staff team generally does not seek or incorporate input on operational decisions that are internal to the Indivisible organizations like hiring, budgeting and fundraising.
What kind of feedback are we looking for?
This often depends on the project/program and who we’re looking for input from. Because we have a large movement with folks with many different opinions (sometimes even opinions that contradict one another!) and because we generally start with a strategic objective, it's easiest to incorporate member input regarding interest/enthusiasm, tactical ideas and logistics. For example, we might use member listening to gauge the ideal timeframe for actions or if we think there’s enough enthusiasm for an issue to sign on to a partner action.
- Democracy Campaign Overall: We have completed several member feedback surveys and heard there is significant enthusiasm across the network about this issue. This informs our decision to prioritize it.
- Specific Democracy Issue Prioritization: We rely on expert policy knowledge (internally or partners) to evaluate specific democracy bills and issue stances. We are prioritizing DC Statehood for strategic reasons, but are doing member listening on enthusiasm about the issue.
Who do we take in feedback from?
We ask specific categories of Indivisibles to weigh in on things that impact them. If we’re signing on to a day of action, Organizers will check in with Indivisible groups that are likely to take action to see if they’re interested. If we’re trying to understand if folks broadly are enthusiastic about a new issue campaign, we might do movement wide listening. We also work within the broader progressive movement, so partner organizations are also another important source of input.
- Rural Caucus: For the Rural Summit in 2020, the event organizers consulted with the Rural Caucus about the agenda to make sure it would be most helpful to that particular audience. Staff were able to make an agenda with this input in mind.
- Dealing with Scandals: Unfortunately, there are sometimes situations when we need to respond to scandals, abuse of office or other problematic behavior by an elected official or candidate -- particularly when this is Democratic candidates we or local groups are supporting. Our ultimate decision is guided by the ethics of the situation, but consultation with the relevant groups is a crucial step that we make sure to take.
- Endorsements: Indivisible national endorsements are unique because they are endorsements by the organization and by the broader Indivisible movement. Our endorsement process requires joint decision-making and formal input by local Indivisible groups, local activists and Indivisible staff. Endorsements begin with a nomination by a local group in the state/district after they have completed an endorsement process. Then Indivisible staff do a candidate vet and send the candidate(s) a questionnaire. The final step in the process is a vote via email by Indivisibles in the district/state.
How We Listen
There are a variety of ways that we collect feedback from Indivisibles -- some formal and some more informal or even anecdotal. Some examples of how we listen and what we’re listening for include:
Surveys - Different types of surveys are a helpful tool for intentionally collecting feedback. This can be a way to quantitatively gauge interest on specific issues or can be more qualitative to collect ideas or suggestions.
Formal Vote - In some cases, specifically in the endorsement process, we do a formal vote. Generally this is through email.
National Calls and Trainings - Various national calls and trainings are a way to gather anecdotal information about issues folks are excited about, questions they’re frequently asking and how the movement seems to lean on specific issues. Sometimes we’ll use Zoom polls on calls as well. These spaces are more helpful to get a broad look at how folks feel about certain issues rather than concrete feedback.
Other Multi-Group Spaces - We have several group/activist spaces like the POC Call, the Rural Caucus and other spaces for group collaboration. Generally the type of feedback these spaces will be asked for is things specifically pertaining to that group -- like asking the Rural Caucus for content ideas for the rural summit. However, these are another added space where we can get helpful anecdotal feedback on broader programs or campaigns.
Organizing Conversations - The amazing Indivisible Organizers are talking to Indivisibles all the time. Sometimes they collect more ‘formal’ feedback -- like when we wanted to gauge support for an endorsement in the presidential primary. - Other times, all that’s needed is some more informal anecdotal feedback. A frequent example is when deciding if we want to sign on to a partner week of action, we’ll sometimes try to get a general sense of if there’s organic interest among groups before committing. Organizers may collect feedback through 1:1 conversations, texts, Facebook groups, existing calls, etc.