June 5, 2018

Voices from the Field: Rural Organizers on What They Need from Funders


As a first step in establishing a framework and priorities, the Integrated Rural Strategies Group commissioned a scan of rural organizing work, Voices from the Field: Rural Organizers on What They Need from Funders. From this scan, the group has gained literacy in the organizing work already taking place and further defined the group’s role and intended impact in the landscape of rural organizing. Capturing the voices of organizers on the ground, the scan identified the following priorities:

  • Infrastructure and Capacity: More organizers, especially, multilingual organizers; logistical support for mobilizing rural residents; strengthening of organizational systems.
  • Strategizing for Impact: Support for coalition-building, information-sharing, and political work.
  • Anti-racist Organizing: Support for anti-racist organizing and trainings.


“It’s very powerful to be with others around the state [of Minnesota]. I’ve seen it transforming some of our rural white members who say that they have had few opportunities to engage with people of color around common values and moving work forward.”
     — Nick Olsen, Land Stewardship Project

“Equity and inclusion should be the basis of the work we do. Having more people of color leading in their communities would make the work more powerful. People living in their communities are the experts of their own lives.”
     — Nicole Donaghy, Dakota Resource Council

Organizers offered guidance for how philanthropy can enter the space of rural organizing and put their resources to use:

  • Truly partner with grantees: Support grantee leadership rather than enlisting grantees in support of funder-driven agendas, models and collaboratives.
  • Come with a learning stance: Understand and appreciate the existing mechanics and structures of rural organizing on the ground and how they are different than organizing in urban areas. Learn about the breadth of need, the texture of the work, and the strategies brought to bear due to the economic inequity, isolation, and lack of infrastructure in rural communities.
  • Fund deeply and over the long term: Enter thoughtfully into long-term partnership with grantees, in order to invest in building the relationships and institutions that are the infrastructure for organizing work.
Download Resource [PDF]