Wellstone Action’s Movement-Building Project (MBP) has a particular expertise in the intersection of elections, organizing, and advocacy, with a proven track record of dramatically expanding the capacity and effectiveness of frontline social justice organizations to take full advantage of nonpartisan electoral and advocacy opportunities. We call this model the Wellstone Triangle, and it anchors our approach for building movement power.
As Paul Wellstone used to say:
”Electoral politics without community organizing is a politics without a base; community organizing without electoral politics is a marginalized politics. And community organizing and electoral politics without a clear, progressive public policy agenda is a politics without a head, without a direction.”
From voter engagement campaigns to ballot initiative fights and issue advocacy work, MBP partners with leading state-based and national social justice organizations and networks to deliver customized training and technical assistance programs. We help our partners develop their overarching strategy and plans as well as the skills they need to execute those plans to build long-term power and win progressive change. Using both in-person training and site visits, as well as remote technical assistance, we tailor our work for audiences ranging from volunteer leaders to organizing staff and organizational executives.
In particular, MBP has extensive experience developing strategic capacity to run a different kind of voter engagement campaign where voter engagement is a means rather than an end. In short, we ensure that frontline civic engagement organizations achieve necessary scale and impact during election season to effectively win critical policy change.
Key principles that we emphasize and develop with groups over time include:
- Having a clear long-term strategy so that you can leverage elections to achieve the necessary scale to make change.
- Fully integrating grassroots base-building, advocacy, and election work into your internal organizational culture, along with your external campaigns and coalitions.
- Engaging in strategic alliance-building and finding your niche in the overall progressive ecosystem, not empire-building.
- Practicing consistent, strategic, values-based messaging and utilizing all available communications strategies, not solely focusing on field work.
- Developing sophisticated leadership development practices throughout your work.
MBP focuses its work with partners in a set of key states, determined by:
- political context and need;
- the existence of anchor organizations and/or movement infrastructure;
- demographic opportunities for underrepresented constituencies to expand their voice (particularly people of color, immigrants, youth, low-income communities, and Native Americans), and;
- an assessment of where capacity-building work might have state or federal significance in the future.
Questions? Talk to us.