WASHINGTON INTERFAITH NETWORK FAQsIAF What is the IAF? What is the mission of an IAF organization? What do IAF organizations do? What have IAF organizations accomplished? Where do IAF organizations get their money? Where does the money go? Do IAF organizations endorse political candidates? Where can I learn more? ORGANIZING What is broad based organizing? What is the Iron Rule? How does IAF organize? Who sets the agenda for the organization? What kinds of issues do IAF organizations work on? What do organizers do? MEMBERSHIP What is the membership of an IAF organization? What are the benefits of membership? How can my organization join WIN? Are there other IAF affiliates in the Washington DC Metro Area?
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IAFWhat is the IAF? The IAF is the Industrial Areas Foundation, the country’s oldest and largest community organizing network. The IAF was founded in the 1940s by Saul Alinsky, who organized the country’s first neighborhood association, “The Back of the Yards Council,” in Chicago’s South side. Today, the IAF has affiliates in more than sixty cities. Each affiliates has its own name, sets its own agenda and hires its own lead organizer. The various affiliates come together for training and for regional leadership development. For more information on the IAF, visitwww.industrialareasfoundation.org. What is the mission of an IAF organization? The IAF helps build broad-based, non-partisan organizations of dues-paying member congregations, school, unions, business associations, and nonprofits committed to building power for sustainable social and economic change. IAF organizing develops a constituency of leaders to become citizens in the fullest sense: participants in democratic decision-making and agents of the creation of a more just society through the exercise of relational power. What do IAF organizations do? IAF organizations are:
- POWER ORGANIZATIONS committed to expanding the ability of individuals, families and organizations to act on issues of concern.
- ACTION ORGANIZATIONS committed to researching local and broader issues, acting directly on those issues with decision-makers in the public and private sectors, and evaluating those actions.
- TRAINING ORGANIZATIONS where leaders and potential leaders can learn about the skills and concepts necessary to operate effectively in the public arena.
ORGANIZINGWhat is broad based organizing? “Broad-based” organizing brings together a broad base of institutions for power, which we define as the ability to act. These institutions are schools, congregations, labor unions, business associations, and neighborhood associations. What is the Iron Rule? The Iron Rule of organizing is: Never do for somebody what they can do for themselves. The IAF does not bring an agenda of issues to new institutions. Instead, it teaches the skills and practices those institutions need to determine their own agendas, identify and mentor leaders, and act together publicly. How does the IAF organize? The process begins when a core team of leaders in an institution conduct relational (one-on-one) meetings and small group conversations called “house meetings”. These meetings provide an opportunity for individuals to share their stories and concerns. Through these conversations, leaders begin to understand, value, and effectively tell their own stories and learn how to elicit stories from others. Leaders’ stories are the inspiration for action on their hopes, grief, and values. Who sets the agenda for the organization? The organization’s agenda is set by the institutions that make up the organization. Often, several issues will be identified by a number of institutions, and these will become priorities for the entire organization. Other issues, important to one or a small group of institutions, can become the subject of local action, supported by the entire organization. What kinds of issues do IAF organizations work on? IAF organizations work on issues that emerge out of conversations within member institutions. IAF organizations have worked on health care, education, housing, immigration, employment, traffic issues, safety concerns, the environment, and other issues of fundamental importance. What do organizers do? The primary responsibility of organizers is to identify institutional leaders who have an appetite for public action and teach them the skills and practices required for effective, results-oriented public work. Organizers develop the talent within leaders, challenging them to see their potential and the possibilities that can be accomplished through organized collective action.
MEMBERSHIPWhat is the membership of an IAF organization? The members of IAF organizations are institutions: congregations, schools (both private and public), labor unions, business associations, nonprofits and neighborhoods and civic organizations that share a concern for families/communities and are rooted in traditions of faith and/or democracy. What are the benefits of membership? In the first instance, IAF relational organizing techniques can be used internally to strengthen an institution, and externally to strengthen that institution’s relationships with its neighbors. While the organization and objectives of every institution are different, many members are able to achieve victories on local and city-wide concerns that they could not realize on their own. How can my organization join WIN? You will probably want to begin with a series of conversations with WIN leaders, and within your organization, about how membership might help your organization bring change to your community. For more information, contact the WIN office at (202) 528-0815. Are there other IAF affiliates in the Washington DC Metro Area? Yes. In Maryland: BUILD (Baltimoreans United in Leadership Development) AIM (Action in Montgomery) PATH (People Acting Together in Howard) In Virginia: VOICE )Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement)