2020 Strategic Framework

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2020 Strategic Framework

Since the formation of Bridge Alliance (a 501(c)(4)) in 2015 and Bridge Alliance Education Fund (a 501(c)(3)) in 2017, we have organized and witnessed the birth of a new field of work within the United States. We call this work many names, but it all boils down to a movement to advance healthy self-governance as the political, economic and social ideal as we transition to a multicultural, pluralistic society in the next two decades. 

We have grown from 30 founding members to 100 members. Some organizations are recognizable across the country, others are D.C.-insider organizations, and still others operate regionally in other parts of the country. All are committed to strengthening democratic values and increasing citizen skills for healthy engagement. This growth is attributable to the services we provide members at no cost to them. We aspire to begin charging dues in 2021. 

 

TRUST-SCOPE-VISION 

As a field, there are no other organizations like Bridge Alliance who have built the trust, the scope and the vision of how we might work individually and collaboratively towards healthy self-governance. Many organizations are doing great work in their own area of expertise. The complex problems we face in the United States will not be solved by choosing between narrowly focused solutions. We need ALL the solutions, working together. We must build our capacity to each do our own work, in concert with and awareness of the other efforts underway. The forces who are sowing division and seeking to destabilize democracy around the world are winning. It is only our trust in and relationships with one another that provide support to continue the world’s longest surviving democratic republic. Bridge Alliance and Bridge Alliance Education Fund stand ready to serve our nation. 

 

CURRENT SERVICES PROVIDED

Member facing (Bridge Alliance)

  • The Weekly Update - Members Only, about 300 people
  • Semi-annual calls to all members (relationship building and information gathering)
  • Concierge services for introductions between members, to new organizations and volunteers, to funders
  • Annual Meeting -- convening members to organize a larger vision for the field and recognize their role within the field
  • Sector Meetings -- organizing and coordinating within each sector
  • Learning sessions
    • Peer to peer
    • Consultant to member
  • Journalist database access
  • Grant making to Bridge Alliance members (no longer provided)

Public facing (Bridge Alliance Education Fund)

  • The Weekly Update
  • Social media promotion of member activities and work
  • Shared event calendar
  • Crisis Recovery Guide

Bridge Alliance and Bridge Alliance Education Fund excel in convening to organize and develop the field; identify gaps and opportunities for members within the larger movement. We see 2020 as a pivotal time to grow and provide more services, organize to scale a “movement” and continue supporting collaborative work. 

 

2020 IS THE YEAR

We must simultaneously address several infrastructure needs for the cross-partisan work to impact at scale and solve the ills of our national ethos. We have identified seven key areas of focus which have been piloted and need additional resources to provide the alignment and amplification for scale. 

  • We need data about our current and potential possible cross-partisan constituents and we must hone our messaging to appeal to these constituents, ensuring they represent the diversity of our nation. 
  • Both those new to and those experienced with the “democracy field” should meet more frequently with each other for better co-visioning, collaboration and coordination of communication streams. 
  • All roads must lead to our co-visioned future. For citizens to get involved, we need a way for them to quickly find their affinity group or organization to join, and they need the skill sets of facilitation, collaboration and mutual respect that are sorely lacking in political work today. 
  • We need an increased media presence to create a demand from the public for the cross-partisan approach to healthy self-governance. 

To effectuate all of the above, we need an independent and strong backbone organization who is trusted to work cross-sector and bring the variety of necessary work into view of the entire ecosystem, so we are connected individuals working together. 

This is how our American tapestry will be created as we weave our future, together.

 

THE INTEGRATED AREAS OF FOCUS FOR 2020

CONSTITUENCY BUILDING

Together, Bridge Alliance members have embraced the research showing 3.5% of people demanding or supporting a social change have ALWAYS succeeded. And we largely agree that the political change we seek is integral to the coming social change. Since this was first presented at our October 2018 Summit, members have set a goal of 3.5%, or 11 million active citizens. 

The primary tools for constituency building that currently exist are used for partisan purposes, and there are two primary companies -- one serving the GOP and one serving the Democrats. The field needs a similar tool for cross-partisan constituency building. Citizen is a start-up that will provide these services to Bridge Alliance members and others working in a cross-partisan manner. Using a combination of big data collected for marketing and the voter data file, Citizen will aggregate data for the field. Additionally, Citizen will provide services to specific organizations, including a clean data file, and instruction on maintaining a clean database. Soon Citizen will offer services to grow the constituency database, using tried and tested means. These means will be used to identify and grow the constituency of those opting out of partisan extremism and opting in to a shared vision for our collective future. 

Obtaining data is only 50% of the task. Knowing who your audience is without having a marketing and acquisition plan is of limited value. Therefore, once data is collected, cleaned and we know who to target, we will develop marketing and acquisition plans to grow the constituency.

DIVERSIFY AND DEEPEN RELATIONSHIPS

The Bridge Alliance Diversity Task Force starts from the premise that the democracy field is largely white, older and progressive-leaning (as proven by a small subset of members who shared data with Citizen) and should be more representative of the diversity of the nation as a whole. We identified five key groups that are underrepresented:  

  1. People of color
  2. Conservative ideology
  3. Faith-based
  4. Youth (under 35)
  5. Rural residents

The makeup of the initial Task Force focused on people of color and faith-based citizens. Given the goals of offering opportunity and being more inclusive, the Task Force is exploring what needs to occur at the individual, community and organizational levels to be inclusive. An initial report guiding the future work of the Task Force is due in March 2020. We are seeking to incorporate changes within Bridge Alliance itself and to create a road map for our members, and the field at large.

Possible projects include:

  • Incubator for community based organizations to increase access, capacity and resources
  • The creation of a Venture Fund to co-fund grassroots and community level work in partnership with Bridge Alliance members
  • An aggregate study to identify the current diversity within the democracy field as an annual report by which we can measure progress

PUBLIC FACING PORTAL

A place where citizens go to search the cross-partisan work on an issue they are interested in and:

  1.   Discover who is working on that issue in a cross-partisan way
  2.   Get informed about the issue in a cross-partisan way
  3.   Get involved with one or more orgs
  4.   Donate

The Bridge Alliance Public Portal will be a citizen-facing platform, which will enable people to enrich their civic engagement by making it much easier to find, volunteer with and financially support Bridge Alliance members. This platform will “match” citizens to causes, organizations and activities in the Bridge Alliance’s cross-partisan network based on their personal interests and priorities. We see this portal growing in richness and functionality over time and becoming the universally recognized “front door” for mainstream citizens seeking opportunities to help address and heal America’s political divides. However, we think the right first step is a more narrow deliverable - one that delivers real value for citizens and Bridge Alliance network members, but limits scope, cost and ongoing support costs. We’re confident that we can design an initial matching capability that will be incredibly easy to use and compelling - and highly likely to inspire interest from funders to sponsor future phases. 

MEDIA RELATIONS

The leaders of the cross-partisan movement have a story to tell and this story must be heard by Americans in order to build the constituency of 11,000,000 citizens needed to work toward the healthy self governance we all desire. To achieve this our members need access to sophisticated public/media consultants to build a valuable public profile for our work and to build the country’s capacity to engage and advance our work. The Bridge Alliance media relations program will ensure that our members get the positive recognition they deserve in print, radio, television and the Internet. The firm employed will focus on all facets of media relations, including writing press releases, pitching stories, and aggressively following up with the media to ensure coverage. The firm we hire will cultivate and maintain excellent relationships with editors and reporters, and serve as a liaison for Bridge Alliance members with members of the media. In addition to writing and submitting press releases, op-eds, letters to the editor, blogs, and guest commentaries, there are other communications services available that will coordinate press conferences and serve as your media spokesperson for the field as a whole. They will also carefully monitor publications and programming to identify opportunities for Bridge Alliance members, resulting in creative, innovative strategies to attract positive media attention.

CONVENINGS

Bridge Alliance members consistently express their need and desire for focused, strategic convenings (conferences and working sessions). Our two annual convenings have resulted in:

  • An acknowledgement of “the field” and our various roles in it
  • A shared understanding of needs (for example: the Diversity Task Force)
  • Specific outcomes that are within reach
  • More collaboration between members and other invited guests, which helps avoid some duplication
  • Shared expertise among members
  • Deepening relationships
  • Democracy Field Overview, which has been used by funders, journalists and researchers to understand the “field”

We recommend collaborating with other conveners to create a continuity of field-building and organizing with three, 1-day meetings each year, adjacent to large meetings that people are likely to attend. These three annual field-level meetings would help coordination amongst each of our three sectors: 1) civic engagement, 2) campaigns & elections reform and 3) governance & policy making. Additionally, there is a need for regional or geographic-based convenings to include more grassroots and community-based coordination. 

Ideally, each member would be involved in 2-4 meetings each year for capacity building and organizing towards healthy self-governance. Travel stipends for members and guests would be helpful to continue increasing the diversity of participants.

CITIZEN SKILLS BUILDING

In order to actively engage a core constituency of Americans to move our country forward, we must equip citizens with the skills and tools to navigate the complicated political landscape that defines our democratic republic, and do so in a way that supports healthy self-governance.

Citizens have the power to bring about change through their participation in civic matters. Our current culture and atmosphere has empowered extremists, who use anger and bullying to dominate our civic discourse. Through skills training and practice, people of all ages can become the citizens our country needs them to be. 

Several pilot projects should be funded in 2020 to assess the most scalable options for increased funding in 2021. Initially, we would recommend several of our civic engagement sector members partner together to design the scope of the pilot projects, which will range from facilitator training to practice groups to participation in reviewing policy and engaging with elected officials. We would focus the 2020 efforts on swing states in the presidential race for maximum effect.

CLOSING

It is critical that we take advantage of the many opportunities awaiting us in 2020 given the heightened partisan divide that is separating our country. So many of our members are doing wonderful work that harnesses the transformative power of dialogue and deliberation to connect diverse people from across the political spectrum. We see these processes — and the core values that guide them — as indispensable to healing our partisan divides and forging an inclusive path forward for our nation. Thank you for your ongoing, continuous support.