WIN’s organizing is perhaps best understood from the bottom up. The base of the organization is the hundreds of leaders building and maintaining strong relationships with each other, and with their neighbors through the institutions important in their lives: congregation, synagogue, mosque, school, union, business association, athletic club, community health center, or other voluntary association. These relationships are developed through one-on-one conversations, where two people share their stories, values, and interests—things that they would like to see changed.
Out of these one-on-ones and larger “house” or small group meetings, WIN leaders identify priority issues and the leaders with enough passion to work hard to resolve them. An issue might be addressed by a small group of institutions or, if the concern and passion is more widespread, by the entire WIN organization.
Each WIN institution has a Core Team of 5 to 10 leaders that do the work of local organizing and represent WIN to their institution. The core teams of all member institutions form the Action Team—the central decision making body for WIN, a democratically controlled membership organization. The Action Team meets regularly for teaching/learning about public issues and to make all major decisions for the organization.
Often, the Action Team receives recommendations from the Strategy Team. The Strategy Team is a group of the most experienced leaders, who do the strategic thinking and plan the actions for WIN. There are also four Co-Chairs, the most senior leaders, who identify leaders, recruit new organizations, and develop strategic power relationships.
The only paid positions in WIN are the lead organizer, three other organizers and a part time office manager. The organizers are teachers and talent scouts. Their job is to identify and train talented leaders; to help them organize with others for power; to teach leaders how to use that power consistent with their values and how to exercise power strategically to make change on issues that affect their lives.
Training is an important part of WIN. The organizers and senior leaders provide training in one-on-ones, house meetings, how to research and act on an issue, how to do a power analysis, how to develop allies, fundraising and other skills as necessary to be effective in the public arena. Leaders are also encouraged to participate in the IAF’s National Leadership Training, which is offered four times a year.
Teaching and evaluation are also important elements of WIN organizing. Each action is carefully planned, with specific objectives and roles assigned to leaders. If individuals outside of WIN are to be part of an action, WIN leaders will brief them on what to expect, and what will be expected of them. After every action, WIN leaders conduct evaluations to determine which goals were achieved, which were not, and why. These lessons help WIN volunteers grow as public leaders and ensure more successful actions in the future.