ORGANIZATION CONTACT COMMITTEEOne committee should be charged with locating, inviting, confirming and communicating with social change groups. This is a big job. Most fairs aim for 20-40 organizational representatives if space will accommodate this number.
For 20-40 organizational representatives, plan to contact and invite twice that number. Even if the fair is free to participating groups, some will find that other activities staff size, etc. keep them from attending.
Defining social change organizations
Invite organizations that work for social change. These groups usually work to: educate the public, empower citizens, change institutional behavior or develop alternative institutions. They include advocacy and legal services groups, human service agencies and charities and philanthropic organizations.
Advocacy organizations are defined by J.C. Jenkins in The Nonprofit Sector: A Research Handbook as those groups which focus "on changing policies and securing collective goods, whereas service delivery [as in human service organizations] creates divisible or individual benefits and may be provided without actual changes in policies." Advocacy groups are active in a number of ways: research, lobbying, litigation, publications, community organizing, direct action, public education and training and technical assistance.
Human service organizations generally respond to the needs of the disadvantaged in society. Such groups include community action agencies, the United Way, youth and senior social care groups, shelters, counseling organizations and job training centers, family services providers and Planned Parenthood Federations, religious and other charities and associations for mental health and the disabled.
Many social change groups combine advocacy and service to promote the public good.
Philanthropic organizations provide money to social change and social service groups. There are four types of foundations -- corporate, operating (giving money but often having no staff), independent (usually created by family wealth) and community. The latter two types of grantmakers are usually better bets as progressive employers since they usually target specific causes or locales in funding projects. The Bread and Roses Community Fund in Philadelphia, for example, makes grants to grassroots activist groups; the Alaska Conservation Foundation funds the environmental movement in Alaska; and the Astraea Foundation in New York City funds women's projects nationally and calls its formation ten years ago "a political act."
To locate social change groups in your area you must use a number of resources:
- Career Placement Office. offices may have a copy of Good Works: A Guide to Careers in Social Change; Great Careers: The Fourth of July Guide to Careers, Internships, and Volunteer Opportunities in the Nonprofit Sector; Community Jobs newsletter; binders with information from social change and social service groups; or other resources.
- Library. Look for the resources above in the school library, plus national and regional directories of organizations (Appendix B). Invite groups listed with offices nearby, and don't hesitate to call organizations outside your community that could lead you to affiliated groups in your area.
- Student Public Interest Research Groups (PIRGs). See Appendix C for PIRG chapters list.
- Student community service projects have been gaining momentum on campuses across the country, and many schools have established organizations to match students' energies with community needs. If yours is such a school, then relationships with social change groups in the area may already exist. Seek your campus' community service project's sponsorship of the fair and help in persuading local groups to participate.
Two national networks for students in community service now exist. The Campus Outreach Opportunity League (COOL) is "a network of students, staff people, and organizations committed to developing strong outreach programs on campus." If there isn't a COOL group or representative on your campus, contact COOL, c/o University of Minnesota, 386 McNeal Hall, St. Paul, MN 55108; (612) 624-3018. There may be COOL members or offices on nearby campuses with knowledge of your social change community.
Campus Compact, initiated by college and university presidents, provides technical assistance to its over 200 member campuses in establishing student involvement in public and community service. Your school or one in the area could be part of this coalition. Call (401) 863-1119 or write to Campus Compact, c/o Brown University, Box 1975, Providence, RI 02912.
For other student groups with national networks, see Appendix D Students category.
- Chaplain's Office.. This office is one of the traditional links between the campus and community. It is often involved in work with soup kitchens, homeless shelters and charity projects. Ask the chaplain's office for the names of social change and social service groups active in the community.
- Contact the national offices of groups with chapters and affiliates nationwide for the location of offices area. Even if there are few indigenous public interest and citizen organizing groups in your part of the country, there are bound to be chapters of Greenpeace USA, the National Organization for Women (NOW), the NAACP, Citizen Action, the Lawyers Guild, ACORN, AARP, the League of Women Voters, Sierra Club and the National Coalition for the Homeless, just to name a few. See Appendix D for a list of such groups and their national offices.
- There are public interest groups that function as networks able to refer you to information sources and other organizations working on their issues. Appendix E provides a list.
- Nonprofit technical assistance centers exist in most cities to help organizations train staff, save money through combined purchases with other nonprofits, and provide management, accounting and fundraising manuals and other services. They also commonly sell mailing lists of their member organizations. Before purchasing lists, find out how useful they will be: do they mostly contain business and professional associations, cultural societies and the like, or do they include a large number of social welfare agencies, legal service and advocacy organizations and foundations? The latter are considered social change groups; you should target these groups. The smaller, poorer social change groups might not be able to afford membership in such technical assistance centers, but it's worth a call to find out.
- The local United Way can provide its membership list or directory of human service organizations.
- State and city government agencies and governors' councils often publish resource guides or know of social change groups in their areas of expertise. There are women's and human rights commissions and offices, offices on aging and energy, state EPA offices, etc. Look in the telephone book for listings.
- Women's and black political caucuses and peace and nonviolence centers work in coalition with and know the area advocacy community well.
- Publications with job listings in social change (see Appendix T). For example, Community Jobs has nonprofit job listings nationwide: c/o ACCESS: Networking in the Public Interest, 50 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108, (617) 720-JOBS. The Public Interest Clearinghouse publishes the Public Interest Employment Report, a twice-monthly newsletter listing approximately 75 social change jobs in each issue, primarily in California and the West, for attorneys and others: Public Interest Clearinghouse, 200 McAllister Street, San Francisco, CA 94102-4978, (415) 565-4695. Environmental Opportunities is a monthly bulletin of environmentally-oriented jobs: Box 788, Walpole, NH 03608, (603) 756-9744. Opportunity NOCs publishes jobs with San Francisco Bay Area nonprofits twice a month: The Management Center, 944 Market Street, Suite 700, San Francisco, CA 94102, (415) 362-9735. The Job Seeker has environmental job listings twice a month with nonprofits and government agencies: Route 2, Box 16, Warrens, W1 54666, (608) 378-4290.
- World Affairs Organizations (WAOs) "are dedicated to improving international understanding among people of the world." They often know of area organizations dealing with foreign policy and international development in the nonprofit sector. There are 80 offices nationwide, each formed and operating independently. See if there is one for your city or a neighboring city, or contact the National Council of World Affairs Organizations at 1726 M Street, NW, Suite 800, Washington, DC 20036; (202) 785-4703, for the WAO nearest you.
- National directories of organizations can be found in libraries (Appendix B). Invite groups listed with offices nearby, and don't hesitate to call others that could lead you to affiliated groups in your area.
- Cities have Women's Yellow Pages and Black Yellow Pages, which list organizations and services of concern to those groups.
- Flip through the white pages of your telephone book; this is a dine-consuming but useful way to locate groups. Check, for example, the listings under "Committee," "Council," "National," "Center," etc.
- Some foundations have specific geographic interests when granting funds, which enables them to easily refer you to social change groups in your state by mailing their annual report. Use the Grant Seekers Guide [Third Revised Edition, 1989, by the National Network of Grantmakers, Washington, DC; (202) 726-6613], indexed by "Grantmakers by Geographic Priorities," for the names, addresses and contacts for these foundations.
How to proceed
Get the addresses and telephone numbers for the groups you want to participate. Persons and groups familiar with you or your sponsoring organization(s) should be contacted first, since they are more likely to accept the invitation.
Next, contact unfamiliar groups. By this time you should have a partial list of organizations that have agreed to participate, and the speaker's name. The agenda is more firm, and you can describe it in more detailed, confident terms. You also will have introduced the job fair in conversation to a dozen or so people by now, so your presentation will be more polished. A model telephone dialogue introducing the fair to public interest organizations can be found in Appendix F.
Call first to establish contact with a person on staff, extend the invitation, explain the fair and receive a response (yes, no, maybe). If the response is yes or maybe, send a letter immediately to that individual, referring to your conversation, noting the date, time and location of the fair and the activity commitment made or the activity interest expressed by: the organization (see Appendix G for a sample confirmation letter).
You should also draft an invitation to the fair because organizations may want to consider the event on paper before deciding to participate (see Appendix H for a sample letter of invitation). Follow-up calls should be made to those groups within a week.
Include in your mailing the questionnaire or registration form (Appendix I) drafted by the Resources/Facilities committee.