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Community Organizer  What They Do

Just the Facts


Insider Info

dot Community organizers rally groups, individuals and resources around issues -- issues ranging from globalization to homelessness to playground safety. Whatever the issue, and whether it's global or local, community organizing is about making the world a better place.

"There are multiple levels of injustice going on across this world and across this country, and either we can fight against it or sit on the sidelines and watch it," says Yusef Bunchy Shakur, a community organizer in Detroit.

Organizers knock on doors to canvass for money, new members and signatures of support. They lobby politicians, appear in the media and organize events to raise awareness.

dotCommunity organizers work for parties and political action groups, community groups, non-governmental organizations and even the government itself. You can find them in every community, bringing people together for a common cause.

"The true product of organizing is leadership development, so it's [developing] citizens that understand how to engage and be effective in public life," says community organizer Laura Jeffreys.

"That's the real product, so you have to have a certain amount of political acumen. You have to be able to build relationships... that are built on accountability."

dotWorking hours vary significantly. Evening and weekend work are common. Resources, both human and financial, are often stretched thin.

"A lot of the time, these [community organizations] have a staff of one to three people," says Jeffreys. "In my case, it's one (person), so I really understand how to read and write budgets and operate within them, and raise money, and all those kinds of things.

dot Community organizers sometimes work in areas and neighborhoods with questionable reputations. That means they must also be safety-conscious. They also encounter the risk of physical harm during rallies.

Another job hazard that organizers can face during rallies or other events is the possibility of arrest, which may lead to a criminal record.

dotCommunity organizers, with their passion and conviction, inspire others to take action.

"We can make it out of anything or over anything, we just don't know that, we haven't realized that," says Shakur. "[Knowing] that brings a level of determination, a level of self-worth, of empowerment and confidence, that can inspire us to do what's needed to improve our communities."

At a Glance

Take action on issues

  • You'll lobby politicians, appear in the media and organize events
  • Deal with issues ranging from homelessness to playground safety
  • A degree is helpful, but experience is more valuable