Community organizing is about building the capacity of a community to address a problem by identifying and attacking its root causes.

Although organizing is often thought of as a tool for progressive or liberal organizations, its tools and concepts are non-partisan. Anyone seeking to make change in their community can use the tools of community organizing, no matter whether they are focused on grassroots, neighborhood-level issues or city-wide community and economic development strategies.

The Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning at the University of Denver created a handbook that explains the tools and process of community organizing. This handbook provides an overview of community organizing tools and terms that will help ground newcomers to the field in the basics. It also breaks down the organizing process into five distinct phases:

  1. Relationship Building
  2. Issue Selection
  3. Issue Research
  4. Taking Action
  5. Reflection and Evaluation

The handbook breaks down the activities that occur within each phase and helps guide readers to put their knowledge into practice. Although local leaders may not choose to follow this handbook step-by-step, it can help them think about how to build stronger relationships to make meaningful change in their communities.