There’s no lack of visual models for organizing people to get stuff done. Bottom up (think: pyramid). Top down (inverted pyramid). Groundswell (maybe the image of an ocean comes to mind?). Flat (you get the idea).

What comes to mind when you see this word? Connected.

It’s trickier to visualize. But we’d like to make the case that connecting — not just as a tactic, but as a model — is an essential approach for advancing social change, especially when it comes to advocacy.

The strongest interest groups call on a single, massive membership to take advocacy action at the right time. At Children Now, the social change that we work on is building power for kids’ issues in California through advocacy. But the children’s field doesn’t have a single membership-based group that other strong interest groups have. That’s why we must connect across parent, student, faith, civil rights, and other community-based groups, and business, labor, and direct-service organizations, to put pressure on policymakers to prioritize children’s health, education, and well-being. At Children Now, we employ the connector model to coordinate the voices of thousands of diverse organizations to get wins for kids.

Beyond the kids’ field, this “connector model” could be used across issue areas and geographies where there isn’t one unified group — or even where there is, but additional voices add power, as well as crucial knowledge and nuance, to a movement. With that in mind, we wanted to share more about how, here in California, the Pro-Kid connector model has led to tangible wins that have benefitted millions of children, especially Black and brown kids, kids in poverty, and youth in foster care.

Here’s how we’ve approached the work:

  1. Unite under one umbrella.
  2. Invite folks to the party who don’t typically hang out together.
  3. Honor folks’ time and their advocacy capital.

Read the full article about connecting as a model by Ted Lempert and Alexander Matias at The Center for Effective Philanthropy.