Community Organising: The Art of Grassroots Campaigning (Part 12)

Action Plan – 2

A chart from the “Groundbreakers” book shows the organising structure of the 2008 Obama campaign:

Another graphic shows how the process worked:

In Hahrie Han’s words: “After identifying prospective volunteers, the [field] organizer had to cultivate the commitment and skills of these prospects through relationships. In a one-on-one meeting, organizers would meet with volunteers in person to get to know them, identify what values they had in common, and ask the supporter to commit to taking on responsibilities within the campaign. While they took on many forms and struck a variety of tones, one-on-ones were intentional and structured conversations. Organizers were trained to use personal stories as a way of getting to know the volunteers and communicating about shared values. Once they found volunteers willing to commit to taking on responsibility, organizers would support those volunteers in hosting house meetings or leading voter contact events. These volunteer-led events were opportunities to test potential leaders to see who followed through and also identify additional potential volunteers. Once someone successfully led a voter contact event, the organizer would, ultimately, ask them to commit to a leadership role.”

It all may sound easy, but it will require hard work and commitment. Whoever said building (or reclaiming) a nation is easy! Nayi Disha, UVI, Sabhas and Circles will need training at multiple levels, continuous improvement, sustained time investment from many, and of course, funds. UVI will thus need different contributors – some can give time, others money, a few can create the tools. We have 1000 days to make it all happen; this first 100 days will be the hardest – as one has to work with a blank slate and imagine something which doesn’t exist. This is where entrepreneurs have to come in and lead UVI.

India has seen many movements and mobilisations. The 2014 campaign for Modi was one where many volunteers came together to rid India of a corrupt Congress government. But all of these past efforts have been short duration campaigns. What we need via UVI is something that will touch the core of our hearts and minds, and therefore endure over a longer timeframe. That’s why it’s not about transactions but relationships, it’s not about mobilising but organising. Done right, UVI can only lay the groundwork for change in 2024 but also beyond as we embark together on our Nayi Disha. We have to start now. There are many unknowns, many mountains to climb. One of us may not be able to do it, but together, we can. We have to. Because the next election is for the heart and soul of India.

Published by

Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.