Fundraising, training organizers, & setting goals

Fundraising, training organizers, & setting goals


This piece is a contribution to the Pre-Convention Discussion for our 32nd National Convention. During Pre-Convention Discussion, all aspects of the party’s program, strategy, and tactics are up for consideration and debate. The ideas presented here are those of the author or authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Communist Party USA, its membership, or their elected leadership bodies. — Editors

Like any organization, we can’t do much of anything without money so we need to build Fundraising Committees to get creative and explore ideas! Comrades should be assigned to develop income streams at club, district, and larger levels. Many people today across organizing spaces seem mesmerized by trying to maximize all of the internet-based technologies like gofundme, email outreach, text blasts, etc. These can be useful, but as organizers we need to develop back-to-basics fundraising skills including personalized phone-calls, meetings, house-visits and parties, and any avenue through which we can thoughtfully coordinate our expanded networks.

People’s World fundraising and support is critically important for Party funding, but it’s just one avenue! Building other avenues of revenue to fund work is even more important! One basic place we could all start is to begin foregrounding International Publishers in more of our work. Believe it or not, many of our members do not even know about International Publishers! While some members have long-term goals to bring back brick-and-mortar IP stores – and this is a creative and ambitious long-term project – starting with getting most of our members purchasing and recommending IP books can go a long way to making IP and other Party projects stronger.

While developing dues collections, donations, and purchases from members is key, we can’t just rely on our members for funding! We must also be willing to ask our friends and others in our networks. To develop other creative fundraising, just like with any task of organization, we must thoroughly power-map members’ contacts and connections, and train members to not be scared of making hard asks of them. Who comes to our events? Who reads IP and PW? Who do people know in their work-places, cultural organizations, and friend-groups? We can make fundraising pitches to these people. These asks should highlight good, concrete work happening at the district or national level, because that’s what excites people to donate.

Finally, in the next 5-year period, we should begin to once again tackle targeted large-scale fundraising. We should again actively seek out wills & bequests. We should have targeted asks of well-to-do socialists. For example, many famous progressive entertainers – like Susan Sarandon, Danny Glover, or Danny Devito – are members of DSA or otherwise have socialist sympathies. These fellow travelers are in our circles. We could ask! There are a lot of people out there who won’t give on their own but if you reach out to them, they will give!

The hardest, but most serious, long-term revenue streams that we must look towards bringing back are CPUSA member-run businesses. We can’t rely on one-off large donors; we must develop serious income. Book stores, consulting firms, summer camps, even travel agencies– these have all been used previously to fund Party work, and could be developed again! Recently, members in New York have floated ideas of Socialist Walking-Tour Companies or developing a Café in unused Party space. Development of Party businesses is a much longer term-project than we can get off the ground today, and some ideas would be easier to start than others, but if clubs have a viable path to experiment with this in consultation with the National Committee, it is worth encouraging.

Required organizer training for cadre / leadership

A lot of basic tasks of organizing are sometimes called “grunt work” – showing up, nuts and bolts doing, repetition. But becoming good at organizing takes training, practice, and ongoing assessment and refining. There’s a science, art, and skill to it. As skilled organizers, we know this; we needed training and still need regular re-training and practice.

Often in the Party, we have moved people into leadership positions before they’ve ever had any Organizer training. Often their promotion or election was correct, and result of proven work and self-taught organizing skills, but it is a mistake on leadership above them at national level to not assist in providing necessary trainings. Organizer Trainings should be open and available to all Party members, but should be required for elected leaders, as they need to be responsible for passing on these skills to the membership they represent and lead.

There have been organizing training series begun to be developed by the National Labor Commission. District level labor and other collectives have also begun developing such series. They should be expanded upon. Specific skills-related trainings developed and coordinated by other collectives, such as the National Media Collective and Educational Department, on their own relevant skills would also be useful. There is much to learn! Training Handbooks for reference and Best Practices guides are often sought by new Party members and leaders, and would be helpful to be rolled out as the Labor Commission and others develop materials.

“Salting” program and voluntary work-place assignments

“Salting” is the nomenclature given to getting a job at a workplace in order to build a new union. As union rates have risen among youth, and so too has unemployment, this project has become popularized among young socialists. Indeed there is a strong interest in these programs within our own Party. Some individual members have already started to work on some of these projects at Amazon, Starbucks, REI, and elsewhere.

While individual initiative is good, we need to emphasize developing these programs as a party collective. At the Little Red Schoolhouse summer schools for young Communists, we have discussed salting and potentially developing salting programs. One CP-run program is beginning to be developed in Ithaca, NY and is in consultation with the Labor Commission and unions. These efforts should be expanded upon with collectives across the country in targeted and careful ways.

Taking on a union-organizing campaign in their workplaces is a great practice for many serious Communists to try at least once. Many different fields are getting organized and reorganized right now. Union organizing teaches very real nuts and bolts organizing skills, and we need masses of our members developing these skills. The required tenure of sticking around through difficulty builds discipline, and encouragement of these salting programs will help us be more structured and focused in building Labor – and future Shop Clubs – as a nucleus of our Party.


    NY District Labor Committee

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