Nonprofit Democracy Network

September 25-27, 2017

Oakland, Calif.

Apply here

Now, more than ever, we must learn to govern ourselves. As nonprofits and movement workers committed to social transformation, how can we embody the change we want to see and become more effective, accountable, and equitable as we do it? The Nonprofit Democracy Network is a community of practice, organizational development training program, and peer support network for nonprofit organizations that want to deepen democracy within their organizations and make our movements for justice more participatory, responsive, and leaderful. 

On September 25-27, 2017, we are convening a cohort of people from nonprofit organizations committed to implementing or deepening decentralized and participatory organizational practices. Through our own experiences practicing participatory governance and working with dozens of other organizations, we’ve learned that decentralized governance can create organizations that are more effective at advancing their mission, more adaptable and responsive to complex systems, more accountable to their communities, and more equitable and fun places to work! 

We’ve also learned that self-governance takes practice, training, and a good support network. Starting with a three-day in-person intensive, we’ll provide training from a variety of methodologies, create opportunities for structured peer support, and cultivate a network of people from worker self-directed nonprofits with a shared commitment to embodying our visionary politics.    

The cohort will entail:

Participatory Training: An in-person intensive gathering to build community and learn about topics such as peer accountability, the role of a board of directors, fundraising, staff pay, participatory culture, decentralized decision making, meeting facilitation, conflict engagement, history and current political context of the nonprofit sector, and more! Some modules will be customized to address specific needs of participants.

Peer Support: Depending on interest and capacity, we’ll facilitate regular monthly peer support and mentoring check-ins to deepen practice and integrate learning over time.

Ongoing Network Building: Co-creation of a library of resources, and opportunities to identify and create appropriate infrastructure for ongoing collaboration and mutual support, rooted in the missions and capacities of cohort members. Examples could be co-writing and publishing a book on nonprofit democracy, organizing and anchoring regional cohorts, policy campaigns to remove barriers to nonprofit democracy, collaborative funding efforts, etc.

We are building connections for an intersectional movement for social, economic, racial, gender, and ecological justice, rooted in a shared commitment to deep democracy. This experience is ideal for social justice organizations of all sizes and ages with the desire to either develop or refine their self-governance practices. Because revolution takes practice!

More on the three-day kickoff gathering, September 25-27, 2017:

The content of the three day training will be focused on how to create, care for, and increase the impact of deeply democratic organizations. We will begin by situating ourselves within our current political-historical moment and exploring how self-governance and nonprofits relate to our work and our collective liberation. Within this context, we will teach each about how to design systems, implement specific practices, solve sticky problems, and strategize for long-term resilience and effectiveness. We will support each other in making specific plans about how to take learning back into our organizations.

We will learn primarily through story and experience. Every participant has experiences attempting to embody their political visions. Every participant has learning to share. No participant (including the Sustainable Economies Law Center) is an expert. We will curate and organize stories, exercises, and experiments to help us establish a personal and embodied understanding. Certain topics (like what employment laws to look out for and what the legal constraints are for structuring a board of directors) will be taught through direct presentation.

Participants will dive deep into particularly sticky issues. Many groups struggle with a common set of issues that includes: determining pay, onboarding staff, hiring/firing, conflict engagement, counter-oppression, decision making, and agenda setting. We will pay specific attention to these issues to ensure that groups walk away more empowered to design systems that work for them. The Law Center will ask participants what they could benefit from learning in order to curate the content appropriately.

Participants will be able to see the forest through the trees. In addition to learning specific policies and practices, participants will understand how those parts hang together to create a coherent whole organization. This will enable participants to have more agency to tinker and improve over time. We will also maintain our awareness why we are doing this so that our commitment to collective liberation infuses every aspect of our learning.

We are currently building our participant community, identifying co-facilitators, and curating storytellers. We are following up with core organizations that that have expressed interest and reaching out to a broader array of potential participants.

Are you interested in joining us on Sept 25-27? Do you have a story to share? Or a topic you want to explore?

Apply here to participate in the inaugural cohort

Please note that we have limited spaces available for the inaugural in-person gathering. If we are not able to include your organization this time and you would still like a one-time consultation about your organization's governance, you can fill out this consultation form. Thanks for your commitment to personal and collective liberation!

Thanks to our Partners and Collaborators: