• Power is the same everywhere

  • Principles, Strategy, Structure and Tactics

    ‘There are two kinds of power – organised people and organised money’

    Founded in 1940, the Industrial Areas Foundation is the nation’s largest and longest-standing network of local faith and community-based organizations.

    The IAF partners with religious congregations and civic organizations at the local level to build broad-based organizing projects, which create new capacity in a community for leadership development, citizen-led action and relationships across the lines that often divide our communities.

    The IAF created the modern model of faith- and broad-based organizing and is widely recognized as having the strongest track record in the nation for citizen leadership development and for helping congregations and other civic organizations act on their missions to achieve lasting change in the world.

    The IAF, which includes the West / Southwest IAF and Metro IAF, currently works with thousands of religious congregations, non-profits, civic organizations and unions, in more than sixty-five cities across the United States and in Canada, Australia, the United Kingdom and Germany.

    Learn more at www.industrialareasfoundation.org

    Organising with existing faith and community based organisations in working class industrial areas of the United States of America and Europe

    “There are two types of power, organised people and organised money – Goldman Sachs have both in abundance, we need both.”

    Our insight into Metro IAF
    – Jersey City, Manhattan, Brooklyn


    Frank Mc Millan, the Metro Area IAF organiser for New Jersey Together connected us with New Jersey TogetherEast Brooklyn Congregations and Manhattan Together over the course of two visits to the USA.

    Most importantly, we met with the people who make up what could probably be described as the most basic and essential unit, the ‘community leader’, Ms Romey, Concepcion and others.

    In a meeting I attended with the ‘Community Leaders’ of all faiths, who have agreed to set aside religious differences for the purpose of organising as New Jersey Together, an anecdotal story of the genesis of NJT was recited by a Christian Minister – it went something like this ‘When we came together because the people of Jersey City were dealing with a host of issues – from being forced out to poor schools and more — we asked ourselves one question: if my house is on fire do I care which religion the fire officer is when she comes to put it out? NO. And if we agree the issues we are facing are real, we knew we needed to act together. Our houses were on fire.”

    NJT was born to tackle the blaze.

    During our time we had an in-depth look at the model, principles, tactics, strategies, structure and the people involved. We learned how decision making was structured do identify campaign priorities and take action. We saw how organisers like Frank were managed & supported by more senior IAF organisers and made accountable to the group and the needs of the communities. We saw firsthand the methods and outcomes – homes, schools, parks, jobs – empowerment and capacity building of individuals and communities and novel (tense and unorthodox) methods of doing ‘political accountability.’

    We conducted interviews, participated in meetings and community listening initiatives and ‘ran’ with organisers during their day to day activities to learn from long established and fledgling Metro IAF organisations and activists.

    The Model – self interest organising?


    For organizing to be successful, it is important to understand the self-interest of leaders and the institutions you work with.

    For example, if a mosque in Jersey City has members who are being evicted or dealing with a bad landlord, it may be important to that institution to organize around that issue. If a church has many parents of young children, they may be most interested in issues related to education.

    You can read more about the IAF’s model and successes here.


    In Jersey City, a group of 30+ religious congregations came together, they identified leaders, and then they launched a listening campaign. They engaged more than 3,000 people to identify the most important issues in their community.

    At their founding action, they put 900 people in a church with local officials (the mayor, schools superintendent, and county executive) and laid out specific concerns and proposals (all carefully agreed and prepped before hand). This resulted in a number of concrete commitments around housing, safety, and education.

    Rev. Alonzo Perry Sr. speaking some truth to power in Jersey City in a characteristic Metro – IAF public gathering with the Mayor.