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How We Staff – Small and Nimble

“The MoveOn Way” Docs
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The Way We Staff – Small and Nimble

The MoveOn Way

How We Staff – small and nimble.

People in the political community are often surprised at the small size of MoveOn’s core staff. We are obviously pursuing a different model than most other non-profit organizations. How are we different? Why are we different? And how do we maintain that difference?

We believe that MoveOn, first and foremost, is playing the role of an innovator in the world of politics. We’re breaking convention and aggressively trying new things. We’re not afraid to fail, but only because we have to try a lot of stuff to find those things that succeed, and break open new ways of doing business.


We believe that this kind of mission puts a high premium on nimbleness and is best suited to a small, highly committed, multi-talented core team. We leverage close partnerships to scale our operation where needed, and avoid building internal staff wherever possible.

To undermine the dynamics that lead naturally to organization bloat, loss of nimbleness and hampered flexibility, we’ve embraced an ideological approach to staffing – every hire, except for a few well-defined areas, is a peer level hire, bringing strong talents and leadership to the team. We don’t hire assistants or assistants to assistants. The organization is very flat, credit is widely shared, and we’re one team.


One key outcome of this model is the need to look at our mission through a movement-wide perspective. As we restrain our own growth, it quickly becomes clear that we can’t do the job alone. We need good partners. This sets a premium on long-term relationships with key partners who extend our capabilities. It also leads us to strategic partnerships on campaigns. Our ideal role is as catalyst within the movement as a whole.


It’s clear that we’re building new models for engaging in politics. But we’ve found that adoption of these models is very slow in our sector, even though their relative effectiveness may be painfully clear to established organizations. Evangelism is not enough. We believe we need to share the expertise we’ve built by sharing experienced leaders.

The best way to do this is to see MoveOn as an important stepping stone for many core leaders in the progressive movement. We are working to attract great people, and to help these potential movement leaders be positioned to truly lead and make positive change in the progressive sector, having been thoroughly immersed in our culture and practices. We help build the skill set and name recognition of core staff, to be primed for a continuing big role in the movement at large.