General Standards for Organizers

The responsibilities of a professional community organizer are written below as a guide for what is expected of faith-based community organizers.

This description is limited to the organizing aspects of the position, and does not describe the administrative responsibilities usually associated with managing a non-profit organization.

The Gamaliel Foundation's methodology is to work with existing congregations and other organizations in a community. The organizer must be capable of understanding the self-interest of each individual institution.  He/she must be able to talk intelligently and creatively with the pastor or the director of these institutions and their community members about the program and goals and visions. The organizer will be judged and the organization will grow by the number of such institutions that are actively involved and paying dues to the community organization.

Each dues paying member institution must have a core of leaders that relate to the community organization and who are able to involve members of that institution in campaigns of the community organization. Even though it is a difficult task, this leadership team must be fully aware of and committed to the self-interest of the member organization and simultaneously to the self-interest of the community organization. A mature community organization should be able to recruit 10-50 leaders from its dues paying member organizations for critical events during the year. The organizer must be responsible to develop strategies to insure this will happen.

Primarily, an organizer's job is to help people in a community become empowered to participate effectively in critical decisions affecting themselves, their families and their neighborhoods. A community organizer therefore must be judged primarily on the quality and quantity of leadership development in a community organization.

An organizer must have a plan to identify, recruit and develop leadership. It will be expected of an organizer that he or she has a list of current and potential leaders and that the organizer be able to discuss the interest, development and growth of each of the leaders on his or her list.

An organizer will be judged by the number of leaders that they involve in local and Gamaliel Foundation formal training programs. A mature organizer should be able to send leaders to week-long training during the year and to conduct weekend trainings for at least 25 of his or her leaders.

An organizer should never appear as the spokesperson for a neighborhood organization, either in the media or at formal negotiating sessions between the organization and public and corporate officials. The organizer's primary task is to develop leaders to the point where they can conduct negotiations for their organization. Even small violations of this principle place the organizer in a leadership role and therefore violates the process of organizing and the integrity of the organizer.

An organizer must be attuned to social, political and economic forces acting on a community. The organizer, therefore, will be judged on the capacity to do a power analysis in a community so that when issues are selected the organization will be building its base rather than creating division and turmoil in the community.

The organizer must be in relationship with the key political, economic and religious leaders of his or her community. The organizer, therefore, will be judged on his or her increasing ability to conduct one-on-ones with such leadership on a week to week basis. In addition, on his or her ability to get present leaders in the organization to talk with their peers in the community and bring them into the organization.

An organizer must be able to help the organization’s members select and define those issues leading to actions which win create a positive impact on members of a community, develop new leadership for the organization, and draw in new member institutions and further educate existing leadership.

An organizer is to organize an organization. It is, therefore, the role of the organizer to see that people and structures are put into place in such a way that they will create coherence and integrity within an organization. By this we mean that there will be a functioning board of directors, an effective fundraising strategy, issues and organizational committees that tie into the board structure and an annual convention that enables the membership to select its leadership and its programs.

An organization should have a fundraising plan that not only provides long term financial security for the organization, but also constantly increases the capacity of the organization to support it more independently with dues, grassroots fundraisers and other special events. It is a fundamental principle of Gamaliel organizers that community people must have a strategy to pay for the organizing that is being conducted by their organization. An organizer who primarily and constantly relies on foundation grants and is not moving toward self-sufficiency for the organization does not comprehend the nature of a self‑directed power organization.

One of the primary tools of a community organizer is an effective meeting. The organizer must enable the leadership to hold meetings that are productive, focused and educational for the leadership. The organizer must ensure that the leadership understands the organizational processes governing their actions and must evaluate all small committee meetings, board meetings, and large community meetings.

Community organizers must, as they are attempting to do with leadership, be themselves in a self-development program. It is expected that an organizer in Gamaliel training will, for instance, be reading a minimum of one book per month on topics relevant to this profession and doing weekly reports that are primarily a tool to reflect, and develop an organizational and personal annual development plan.


Read the general standards for organizers.

Use the Directory to schedule an informational interview with an organizer or president
near you.

Review the reading list for first-year organizers.

Candidates may be invited to attend Gamaliel's National Leadership Training to learn more.