By Australian Progress, Commons Librarian
Introduction to the Research Project
Australian Progress and the Commons Social Change Library are partnering to undertake important research into organising models in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand.
This research project aims to:
- map the organising models being used in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand
- share that information so organisers can learn from the experience of others as they find their way.
We are conscious that many organisers in Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand have been very influenced by approaches to organising from overseas, especially the large number of frameworks, books, training programs and influential campaigns from the USA. This research will balance that influence by documenting practices in our part of the world. We welcome collaborations with people in other countries who would like to do similar research.
The main way to have input is by completing the survey. Follow up articles will be published on the Commons Library website, sharing key themes and case studies. Findings from the research will be shared at Australian Progress events.
Complete the Survey
The survey has now closed. You are welcome to use the questions as prompts in reviewing and developing your own organising model.
Who the Survey is for
The survey is for organisations operating in Australia and/or Aotearoa New Zealand who undertake some form of organising. By this we mean you gather people together to take collective action (when a number of people work together to achieve a shared or common goal, whether online or offline).
We welcome input from a wide diversity of organisations. If you’re not sure if this survey is for you have a look at the questions (PDF download) and contact the Commons Library.
Please note only one response will be accepted per organisation. Please check that you have the approval of your organisation and leadership to respond.
How to Complete the Survey
- The survey must be completed in one session.
- We encourage you to consider the questions in advance (PDF/Word doc Download) so you can gather information from various sources including other people in your organisation.
- You could have a team meeting to gather input from others, take notes, and then feed that into the survey. Please note that only one response will be accepted per organisation so if you gather diverse feedback from your team you will need to make a call about what information to provide.
What We Mean by ‘Organising Models’
An ‘organising model’ is the particular structure, roles, processes and allocation of resources that enables an organisation to organise. It is how you make your organising work: how you gather people together, grow, develop leaders, and make decisions.
For examples you can see a summary of three organising models from the first phase of this research project Home Grown: Mapping Australian Organising Models.
In the survey we ask you to:
- Provide a picture of your model (to show the different parts and how they work together)
- Outline the kinds of groups within your model
- Tell us about the numbers of people at different levels of involvement and the roles they take on, and
- Reflect on the status of autonomy, flexibility, accountability and shared strategy in your model.
Circles of Commitment
In the survey we use the Circles of Commitment framework to gather information about the number of people engaged at different levels of involvement in your organising model. Even if you don’t use this framework yourself we hope you find it a useful way to share your organisation’s situation.
- Community – the set of people your organisation is trying to reach (this could be the number of people in your constituency or geographic area)
- Crowd – the members of the Community who are in contact with your organisation (this could be your supporter list)
- Contributors – those members of the Crowd who volunteer or donate
- Committed – those Contributors who can organise others (these people make it possible for others to take action)
- Core – those Committed people without whom the organising project would fall apart (this may be paid staff members or high level volunteers).
The framework originated in Rick Warren’s book the Purpose Driven Church. For more information see Levels of Commitment from Community to Core, an excerpt from Purpose Driven Campaigning.
Please note that if you track your supporters in a database and are able to provide precise numbers that is welcome – but if not estimated numbers are fine.
Privacy and Data Management
Your raw submitted responses will be read by the project committee (Beth Koch, Anita Tang and Holly Hammond), staff and volunteers at the Commons Library and Australian Progress, and academic researchers we may partner with into the future. Your responses will be used for aggregate level analysis where all results will be de-identified (anonymous).
Follow up articles may take a case study approach, highlighting models from different organisations. Your organisation will only be identified with the written permission of your organisation. We will seek approval from your organisation prior to publication of your case study on the Commons Library website.
This project aims to make information available for people to learn from while respecting the privacy and consent of survey responders and their organisations. If you have any questions about privacy and data management contact the Commons Library.
Read Home Grown: Mapping Australian Organising Models, the report from the workshop at FWD+Organise 2021 which featured organising models from Australian Conservation Foundation, Amnesty International Australia, and Results Australia.