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Proposal to restructure the national Green Party (GP-US)

Kimberly Wilder

Kimberly Wilder

As some (but not all) readers may know, the national Green Party (GP-US) is experiencing some money problems. Some of it is simply debt from the national convention. But, still, there are discussions about if we have to cut back on spending or rethink how operations are run. Since I am often cautious about spending money in any organization, I thought I would try my hand at a proposal about how to put a national party on an austerity budget. Below is part of one of my posts to the national list-serve:

New Vision for GP-US National Operations
by Kimberly Wilder

My vision for how GP-US might switch to operating has been motivated by public and private discussions about how to get national to work if we cut some staff. One green in NY expressed to me that if we cut the GP-US office down to one person, it couldn’t work and GP-US would die. I believe that other people on the National Committee and Steering Committee share that concern.

I believe that the worst case scenario anyone is proposing is one staff person and one fundraising person. (Which would also allow for additional outside fundraising contractors.) I believe that scenario can work.

For people who believe that if we cut the GP-US national staff back to 1 or 2 people, and cut the office, GP-US would be lost, I say: You have forgotten what the structure of GP-US is. GP-US is not (or was not designed to be) a central organization.

There is infrastructure, strength, energy and talent in GP-US based on the member states. Also, there are volunteers who came in through the member states, who are now part of the culture and infrastructure of GP-US committees. If we had a nimble national organization, the member states and volunteers might be able to pick up the slack, and might become stronger for being relied upon.

If we had a staff person who understood our true infrastructure and could use it well, we could operate with a lean and mean national structure. I am sure all of us know successful organizations (or political campaigns) where there is one, wise person at the top who artfully manages and delegates the work underneath them. GP-US has a lot to offer a person like that.

If GP-US did a search for an “Executive Director-type person”, or even better, a “National Administrator”, we could say to that person:

Here is your resource, you have over 30 smaller organizations (the states) who are supposed to give you their donor lists each year, and who will sometimes donate to you additionally; we have our old national donor lists going back a lot of years that are still fresh; we have about 100 or more volunteers on about a dozen functioning or semi-functioning committees; we have a deliberative body of about 100 people who you can pitch proposals to; we have archives with decisions made over many years, and body of rules, policies, and press releases for you to quote from and rely on. Can you keep this body functioning, and help steer them towards understanding what projects and campaigns they want to do? I think someone could do that job.

I do think we would have to search for the right person, and that it would probably be someone new. I feel that the right person might not be among the staff we have, largely because we would be asking for such a sea change, and the old staff was trained and encultured as it were in our old method. The present method appears to be a somewhat modified version of a top-down organizational model, with fairly compartmentalized departments, asking each person to be a piece of a team directing states and volunteers. The new model we might want, which is leaner and less centralized, is a servant leader/facilitator, who steers the entities we have in the correct direction.

I almost wish we could advertise on Craig’s list or a job search newspaper for the job we want, and have people pitch to us how they would do it. But, I guess that is not fair to job applicants. Still, it might be nice to have people who read this list think about what skills they would draw upon to do a job like this. Or, have the NC brainstorm other organizations who have operated on such a model, and/or people who would be good for this job.

Some present model vs. new model ideas

Create Green Pages national newspaper with a lot of help and direction from DC office
vs.
National Admin finds state with the best newspaper, and asks if they can do an annual or semi-annual edition on a national scale

A Green Party Message Board

How To Organize: A Green Party Message Board

National Office Staff worries or reports to Steering Committee about functioning of National Committees (merchandise, ballot access, etc.) National Office Staff participates on committees to guide them and to do work
vs.
National Committees are required to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and get their own work done. States realize that they must provide abundant and strong volunteers. Perhaps certain states come to focus on certain committees.

GP-US staff or committees scour the country for races, focuses on key races, weighs in on which races or candidates are strong
vs.
GP-US gets focused on

Presidential race, and allows states and locals to prioritize their own races. The main value of GP-US to state and local races becomes the network of states sharing info with other states who ask.

I think there could be very positive benefits from rethinking the structure of GP-US. I think that the number of National Office Staff could be lowered, and yet, their effectiveness maximized by rethinking how GP-US interacts with the state parties.

I think that now is a good time to experiment with models, when the next presidential cycle is four years away.

2 Responses

  1. If the GP is actually looking to slash its national paid-salary staffing, and make performance incentives a basis for both fundraising and operational matters, it is adopting what the LNC made at least a halfassed effort to do a few years ago. Kudos for the wisdom of this! If they do separate their efforts into a project-based, self-funding model (kicking 10% to overhead to compensate what staff they do keep for their work), they may survive this crunch and provide real-world evidence of this path …

    It also seems that the GP is starting to live up to its “local before global” rhetoric at long last. Now if it would just stop nominating people to represent it on the national level who are diametrically opposed to most of its platform.

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