Two Popular Myths

You need large numbers to be effective: False. Most groups revolve around a small core of individuals who have the trust of the larger group. The core group must learn how to build coalitions and he able to draw on larger numbers at the appropriate time. Don't be discouraged if only a small group shows up to key meetings. The important thing is not to exclude anyone from the core group and to learn when and how to involve the less committed allies. For those people who miss meetings, keep them involved and up-to-date with phone calls and mailings. The smallness of a group becomes a liability only if it remains small and/or is unable to develop coalitions.

You must have special training to he able to organize a group: False. Some of the most savvy and effective organizers are grassroots people who know the wishes of the community and can articulate them. The key to leadership is gaining and keeping the trust of the group, and this is accomplished by working with the group—not for them.