HKS Authors

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Since 2020, the Democracy & Power Innovation Fund (DPI) and our learning partners in organizing, philanthropy, and academia have been innovating a new approach to measuring how organizations build power to win change. When we seek out the drivers of progressive change in almost any state, we find a handful of entities that organize bases of people who deliver that power over and over again in legislative and electoral campaigns to win change across issues. The problem is that the work it takes to build and continue growing such an organization’s power over time has been largely invisible. In the spring of 2020, we launched a DPI Organizing Lab with 12 base-building organizing groups to identify the core practices of their power-building work that could be measured and visualized, and that were common across regions and constituencies. These groups explicitly seek to build a base of constituents who can wield long-term independent political power that creates local, state, and national impact. For the last three years, we have been invested in building a culture of measurement that actually tracks advancement on what matters most in our sector: multiracial base-building, long-term organizational governing power, narrative shifts, increased civic participation, and the winning and implementation of beneficial change in constituents’ lives—in a word: POWER. This memo covers our progress and key findings in this work so far. We present case studies of how organizations are understanding and measuring the strategies most effective for building their power, and the impact of wielding that power in public.


Cushman, Joy, and Elizabeth McKenna. "Power Metrics: Measuring What Matters to Build a Multiracial Democracy." Democracy & Power Innovation Fund, 2023.