CSO = A New Model for Supporting Autonomous Agents of Change
an autonomous change agent striving for Climate Action and Global Justice!
Backbone Campaign's Community Supported Organizer, (CSO) pilot program is a nascent but promising innovation in funding social change work. Backbone designed this model to work similarly to Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs). CSAs create a stable funding source for local farmers through a synergistic relationship with community members who pledge support. In return, the CSA member receive a share of the harvest and a deeper connection to the farm and the food they eat. We believe that the CSO model presents a new way to support our most talented change agents, establish meaningful connection to the work being done, and a deep pride in the harvest.
Being a CSO provides a way for a self-directed change agent to be innovative and remain responsive to emergent opportunities. They are not constrained by an organizational bureaucracy directed from afar. They are not locked into an inflexible plan or narrow mission. A CSO is accountable only to a diverse community of sustaining donors from whom they crowd source recurring donations. This community benefits from a CSO's increased skill and capacity gained through their immersion in the work and their access to training, skill shares, reflection, mentorship and tactical tools that Backbone Campaign provides. We all enjoy the harvest of accelerated positive change and mounting victories.
Potential CSO's may contact the Backbone Campaign, and then if appropriate submit a proposal to Backbone complete with a mission statement regarding the work they’ve been doing and the work they'll continue to do. Ideally, they should have a community of people who will step up to support them with a recurring contribution. CSOs accepted into the program get a six month trial period to demonstrate their community's willingness to invest in their work. Depending upon the progress toward agreed and appropriate goals Backbone and the candidate evaluate whether to continue on the CSO path together. Backbone provides a formal structure to the program, including fiscal sponsorship (so that all contributions are tax-deductible), training, mentorship, models for accountability, and when possible matching fund support.
We believe that the CSO concept can help further empower autonomous activists and organizers around the country to dedicate themselves more fully to the work they are doing in their communities, and thereby help lead us faster to the kinds of positive and just changes we all strive to see happen in our world.