…how we get so much done
350 Seattle is mission-driven: we work on all levels to address the climate crisis. We suspect you’ll be able to find a place to plug in that matches your interests and skills, but we don’t offer a one-size-fits-all volunteer engagement experience. Read on to understand how to get involved, and how we work. You should also check out our Points of Unity!
Our structure distributes most organizing power to volunteer workgroups. They network–they are not centrally coordinated. Only major reputational or financial decisions need to be approved by a wider group of leadership. Otherwise, we go where the energy is, and new campaigns and projects pop up all the time. One of the things that makes us unique is that we respond to opportunities and threats quickly–because we’re driven by our passion and commitment to making change (not by our strategic plan or funders).
Finding a workgroup/team
Interested in joining 350 Seattle? Find a workgroup/team to work with:
- Come to our monthly meeting (first Wednesday of each month at 6:30pm at University Friends) and join a workgroup breakout.
- Find a workgroup that interests you and contact the facilitator.
- Fill out our Get Involved form and our Volunteer Coordinator will be in touch with you.*
* This is the best option if you have a specific skill you want to offer
Having trouble finding your place? Reach out to our Volunteer Coordinator.
Each workgroup (and its sub-teams/projects) is organized differently. That can be hard to navigate at first, but we’ve found that teams are most effective when they’re organized in a way that works best for the people doing the work.
New projects start and end all the time! The best way to get involved is to jump in and help. If you want to do more, say something! If you want to do something but there doesn’t seem to be a way to offer it, ask someone how to contribute. If you only have a little time here and there, that’s OK – give what you can. We are powerful together.
Stepping into leadership
Opportunities to lead emerge all the time! Workgroup leaders want people take the lead on projects — this could look like coordinating an event, following up with a group of people to accomplish a research task, or following through on an idea you pitched and recruiting your own team.
What makes a good leader?
- Good communication skills – making sure the team has the info they need to get the job done.
- Supporting others’ participation – taking time to get to know people, answer their questions, and encourage them.
- A strong understanding of 350 Seattle’s mission and values, and a commitment to anti-racism/anti-oppression work
People who have taken on leadership consistently are invited to join the Leadership Team.
Weaving the network (the Leadership Team)
Our most active leaders connect in person and electronically–to share their work and to make connections between teams, also known as “weaving the network”
The Leadership Team provides input to the Support Team and the Board on organization-level issues/questions that come up. They decide if new workgroups that are proposed meet our mission/values. The Leadership Team engages in organizational strategic planning annually.
The Leadership Team involves additional meetings and emails, but there are benefits, too:
- Access to the Leadership Team Stipend Fund
- Priority access to training opportunities
- Opportunity to nominate people to the Policy & Endorsement Committee and Board Nominations Committee
Supporting leaders (the Support Team)
Even in a networked organization, we need a core paid team of people responsible for the day to day operations of the organization. We also recognize that our volunteer-run workgroups benefit from having consistent support to help them create campaign plans, manage communications, and connect with other organizations. The Support Team also tries to make sure a campaign doesn’t flounder if a leader needs to step back for a bit.
All of the workgroups have a point person on the Support Team. Any funding requests from workgroups should go to this person. (The Support Team is primarily responsible for fundraising for 350 Seattle, with the assistance of teams working on events and donor work.)
The Support Team is also the group that deals with crises and urgent threats and opportunities, bringing in the Leadership Team and/or Board as needed.
The Support Team is non-hierarchical; its members provide support to each other, and are accountable to each other. Contracts are issued annually; the Board is responsible for this, and for ensuring that there’s a review process, so that if there are any concerns about a member’s work, they can be raised. The Support Team is offered a livable wage and members can decide to “donate” some of their contract to the Leadership Team stipend fund.
There are some decisions that need to be made as an organization and not as a workgroup or a team–for example, decisions around whether we will endorse a campaign / initiative / policy, and if we will take any controversial policy positions.
We have a Policy and Endorsements Committee made up of members of the Board, Support Team, and Leadership Team who are responsible for making these decisions after gathering input, assessing alignment with our mission/values, and consulting with partners.
Taking fiduciary responsibility (the legal Board of Directors)
As a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, we need to have a Board of Directors. In designing our structure, we didn’t want to give the Board too much power; we wanted instead to distribute power throughout the organization. The Board is responsible for the financial management of the organization, approving the budget, major expenses, and issuing contracts to the Support Team. They are also responsible for major structural and bylaws changes, after engaging in a thorough input process with the Leadership and Support Teams.
The Board also needs to approve of any civil disobedience planned by workgroups since its members carry additional personal risk by virtue of being on the Board.
The Board has five members and is elected by the Leadership Team, Support Team, and sitting Board. The Board Nominating Committee (made up of members of the above teams) will accept nominations and design a process to ensure that Board candidates are aligned with our mission/values.
In cases of irreconcilable conflict within the Leadership Team and/or Support Team, the Board makes final decisions.
Addressing conflict (the Tending Circle)
Sometimes working together is just hard, and conflicts arise that are difficult to work through. The Tending Circle, a group of trained mediators and conflict resolution specialists, are available to help address conflicts that can’t be resolved through other methods. They are also available to advise leaders on dealing with conflicts within their teams.
To contact the Tending Circle, email Andrew.
We are fortunate to be a member of the Nonprofit Democracy Network, a nine-month cohort of organizations that want to deepen democracy within their organizations and make our movements for justice more participatory, responsive, and leaderful. We’re learning as we go, and hope to bring back practices that are working in other organizations. It’s important to remember that we continue to adapt how we work — we get stronger by learning and growing!
We will be blogging about our experience with this structure here.
Some resources that informed our work:
- Reinventing Organizations – Teal Organizations
- Sustainable Economies Law Center’s Worker Self-Directed Nonprofits resources
- Ayni Institute
- Enspiral Network Handbook
- This is an Uprising
- Article: “How to Grow Distributed Leadership”
Questions? Email Valerie.
Check out our blog!