ACORN’s model is simple: local, member-based, democratic organizations that operate like a union for their members. By forming our own community unions, we build our own power.
How do you build a union for your community? ACORN organizers use our proven approach:
- People to people:
- Learn about the issues people in their neighborhood, building, or workplace are experiencing, often through home visiting or door knocking.
- Sign-up them up to be members and to pay dues.
- Invite them to a launch meeting to form a campaign to address the issue.
- Launch meeting:
- Ask attendees about the issues that came up while door-knocking.
- Focus the conversation on a common issue campaign: an accessible win that starts to address an issue.
- Plan a campaign that uses direct action. Direct action is when those directly affected by a problem take action themselves to resolve it, instead of relying on politicians, lawyers, non-profits, or other professionals to do it for them.
- Elect from the attendees potential leaders with the greatest motivation and initiative.
- Meet with the potential leaders and secure commitments for them to take the lead on aspects of the campaign.
- Support the leaders in carrying out the campaign.
- Review the campaign together. Discuss successes and areas for improvement.
- Take action and persist until victory
- Choose the next issue while expanding the membership:
- ACORN is a multi-issue organization.
- Some organizations are devoted to a single issue. When they win or lose on that issue, the organization usually fades away.
- For ACORN, taking on and winning on issues is only a means to the broader end of building power.
Illustration of an organizing drive: