CSO = A New Model for Supporting Autonomous Agents of Change
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 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.
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. This will help lead us faster to the positive and just changes we strive to see happen in our world.