GOVERNING Documents

 

>> Racial Resources Document <<

Mission, Intended Impact and Values

 

Mission

 

What is our reason for being?

 

Austin Women Invest to Elect empowers women to participate fully in the political process by organizing our collective power to invest in U.S Senate candidates that support our progressive and pro-choice values.

 

Our annual priority issues often include but are not limited to:

 

  • Women’s reproductive rights

  • Affordable and accessible quality child care

  • Affordable and accessible high-quality physical and mental healthcare

  • Climate Change

  • Sensible gun regulation

  • Equal human rights for all cultures, races, religions, gender identities, sexual orientations, economic classes and political affiliations.

  • Racial and economic justice

  • Equal access to quality affordable higher education

  • Immigration reform

  • Criminal justice and policing reform

  • Affordable housing

  • Voting rights and access

  • Equal pay

 

Intended Impact

 

How will we pursue our mission?

 

We seek to operate as a recognized and respected fundraising group that also informs and trains women activists to support change through both financial contributions and collective community action.

 

  • Invest in strategically important federal races able to change the national landscape for progressive causes and where our support is meaningful and necessary to help a candidate reach their goals.

  • Support the candidate that best represents our values regardless of gender but with a priority on supporting female candidates.

  • Hold events where women feel welcomed and empowered to speak up and speak out about the substantive issues that are most important to our group because we recognize that politicians will not act on issues if strong collective groups do not demand representation.

  • Provide tools and training to help all members comfortably and effectively navigate political fundraising and advocacy for progressive issues and potential solutions regardless of their previous political affiliation, policy, or advocacy experience.

  • Operate as an inclusive organization dedicated to encouraging and supporting diversity, democracy, generosity, trust, and mutual respect.

  • Participate in the Electing Women’s Alliance (EWA), a national network of investment groups engaging women in political support. The EWA shares resources, information, best practices, and amplifies the collective power of their affiliated women’s investment groups across the country.

 

Values

 

What principles drive our actions?

 

  • Support: We provide a safe space for women to share, listen, and learn without judgement.

  • Include: We know we are strongest when our membership and leadership reflect the diversity of our community.

  • Learn: We approach each other, our guests, and our discussions with open and curious minds. All questions are good questions. 

  • Build: We are here to make a difference together through constructive conversations and collaboration. We look for ways to build on each other’s ideas for individual and group development.

  • Represent: We commit to being excellent I2E ambassadors with the public, organizations, and elected officials.

 

 

 

Governance

 

Who qualifies as an Invest to Elect member?

 

Members are women or gender nonconforming individuals who meet any of the following requirements:

 

  1. Commit to contribute the minimum dollar amount for that year to Invest to Elect fundraisers. (If women join after July 1 of a given year, their total commitment amount for that calendar year is prorated by 50%.)

 

  1. Provide trade services to the group, as approved by the Membership Committee. The Membership Committee shall facilitate the re-evaluation all trade agreements with service contractors each calendar year to ensure those agreements still meet the needs of and bring value to Invest to Elect. 

 

  1. Have participated on an Invest to Elect panel. These women may attend all membership events and may attend fundraisers at the same rates as regular members in the year they served on the panel.

 

  1. Are current Invest to Elect members and who declare to run for federal office. These members are not required to fulfill the remainder of the Invest to Elect commitment for the calendar year in which they declared their candidacy. (In the general election year, the Executive Committee agreed to hold a membership event after the primaries with women federal candidates who are competing in the general election locally. Based on the current membership policy, these women would then be invited to all membership events for the remainder of that calendar year. These women still need to pay the normal rates to attend fundraisers.)

 

What are the Executive Committee’s powers and responsibilities?

 

The primary role of the Executive Committee is to provide strategic vision and establish policies that lead the organization toward its desired outcomes. The Executive Committee shall have and exercise the authority to make all decisions and take all actions relating to the AWI2E structure, operation and governance. Responsibilities include:

  • Defining the mission, intended impact, and values, and determining its priorities and expected outcomes;

  • Ensuring effective organizational planning and monitoring implementation of approved plans;

  • Setting the standard for the conduct guidelines for all members;

  • Defining the prudence and ethics boundaries within which the organization will conduct its operations;

  • Ensuring its own diversity, while including the expertise needed to meet its responsibilities;

  • Establishing governing policies that specify how the Committee conceives, carries out, monitors, and assesses its own tasks and performance; and

  • Advocating for the organization in the public and private arenas in support of the organization's philosophy and goals, and actively working to enhance the organization's public image.

 

What are the responsibilities of individual Executive Committee members?

 

Executive Committee members will participate in committee work; attend major organizational events; participate in scheduled meetings; adhere to Committee policies; make and fulfill an annual commitment to the organization by the established deadlines; and maintain a healthy and mutually supportive environment with other Committee Members and with the organization as a whole.

 

Full participation is required at a majority of Executive Committee meetings each year and at a majority of the member’s assigned Working Committee meetings.

 

All Executive Committee Members are responsible for ensuring a full and smooth transition of their responsibilities to the new Executive Committee when their service to the Committee is complete, including being available for questions during the beginning of the new Executive Committee term. When possible, Executive Committee Members who have served as Chairs of Working Committee will continue to serve on their Working Committee in the year following their term as Working Committee Chair.

 

What are the terms for Executive Committee members?

 

Each Executive Committee Member will serve a two-year term. Executive Committee Members can serve multiple terms without limit.

 

How does one become a member of the Executive Committee?

 

Every Executive Committee Member must be an active member who has fully met her membership commitment in the year prior to joining the Executive Committee. 

 

Any member may join the Executive Committee at the beginning of a new term. The Executive Committee will place a general call for new Executive Committee Members prior to the beginning of each term.

 

How do we choose the Executive Committee Chair and Vice-Chair (or Co-Chairs)?

 

The Executive Committee shall have a Chair who is responsible for ensuring the Executive Committee’s responsibilities are carried out. The Executive Committee Chair shall be a member of the Executive Committee for the year prior to her first term as Executive Committee Chair.

 

The Executive Committee will also elect either a co-Chair, or a Vice-Chair, who may be a current Executive Committee member or a new Executive Committee member. If the Chair of the Executive Committee or a Working Committee is unable to fulfill her responsibilities, the Vice-Chair will act as the Chair for the period of time that the Chair is unable to fulfill her responsibilities, or until the end of the Executive Committee’s term, whichever is sooner.

 

In the last Executive Committee meeting of the current term, the Executive Committee will elect the Chair for the upcoming term by a majority vote.

 

The term and term limits of the Chair and Vice-Chair will follow the same rules that apply to individual Executive Committee members set forth above in Section C. 

 

How do we staff the Working Committees?

 

The Executive Committee may establish Working Committees to carry out its responsibilities. The Committees will be responsible for achieving the organizational goal(s) assigned to them, identifying other items the Executive Committee needs to address, developing recommendations for the Executive Committee to consider, and handling the day-to-day operation of their areas.

 

Working Committees may be established or disbanded at the discretion of an affirmative majority vote by the Executive Committee. 

 

Each Working Committee shall be chaired by an Executive Committee Member. 

 

The Executive Committee will elect Working Committee Chairs by a majority vote in the first Executive Committee meeting of the new term.

 

Working Committees may recruit volunteers from the General Membership to assist with the execution of their duties. Each Working Committee will also ensure it has a Vice-Chair. The Vice-Chair does not have to serve on the Executive Committee. 

 

The current Committees are:

 

Committee Responsibilities

 

Candidate

      This committee identifies and researches potential candidates to support in line with the mission and long-term strategy of the organization, and workes with the Communications Committee to present that research to the Steering Committee so it can vote on which races to support. 

 

Communications

      This committee is highly collaborative - it works with each other committee to ensure our communications to members, prospects, and the public are seamless and fully aligned with our mission, strategy, and values. It oversees the website, private Facebook page, emails to membership and prospects, and public inquiries from media and campaigns.

 

Events

      This committee organizes the fundraisers selected by the Steering Committee, including identifying hosts and ensuring we meet our fundraising goals. It involves lots of individual communication with members. This committee also identifies and organizes Membership Events.

 

Governance

      This committee oversees the organization’s governance, including leading the group to adopt operating policies.

 

Membership

      This committee recruits and retains our membership. It ensures we hit our total commitments goal for the year so we can host the number of fundraisers we desire. It also is responsible for ensuring we continue to grow as an equitable and inclusive community.  

 

 

Equity and Inclusion

 

The Executive Committee agreed to take the following actions to build a more inclusive and equitable community:

 

  1. Recruit women from underrepresented groups to join the Executive Committee and Membership

 

The Executive Committee agreed to ensure the leadership and membership of Invest to Elect is inclusive, and particularly noted that equity and inclusion needs to start at the top. 

 

To do so, each Executive Committee member agreed to recruit women from underrepresented groups to join our community under our normal membership guidelines, and to let them know about opportunities to serve on the Executive Committee.

 

  1. Ensure our event panels and candidates are inclusive

 

The Executive Committee agreed that our event panels and candidates should be inclusive.

 

For Event Panels: The Events Committee agreed to ensure that all of our panels include women from diverse backgrounds.

 

For Candidate Selection: The Candidate Committee will undertake the following aims:

 

  • Identify candidates from underrepresented groups who align with our normal assessment criteria and send them for a Steering Committee vote

  • Include in each candidate an assessment of the candidate’s stance on racial justice, immigration, and LGBTQ issues

  • If publicly available, include in the candidate statement an assessment of the diversity of the candidate’s staff.

 

The Executive Committee discussed the possibility of sending questionnaires to candidates on these and other issues, but decided not to implement questionnaires at this time. The reasons for not implementing the questionnaires right now are due to concerns about the time it would take to administer, given the group’s 100% volunteer approach, and that the group would benefit from growing more in impact and stature to assure that candidates would respond.

 

  1. Partner with affinity groups on Membership Events

 

The Executive Committee expressed a desire to partner with affinity groups on our membership events so that we may open the events to more women from underrepresented groups. 

 

The Events Committee will be responsible for identifying affinity groups to partner with on events.

 

  1. Ensure our public image represents the community we value

 

The Executive Committee agreed to update our public-facing information to reflect the equitable and inclusive community we’re seeking to build. 

 

The Communications Committee agreed to update the following content:

 

  • Images: Remove images from events that do not reflect the community we’re seeking to build. The May Membership Event is a good example of where to draw photos from.

 

  • Priorities: In the statement of priorities in our mission, include racial justice, criminal justice reform, policing, voting rights, immigration reform and LBTQ rights..


 

 

Communications

 

How do committees collaborate with the Communications Committee?

 

  • The Communications Committee helps ensure our communications with all of our stakeholders are professional, organized, and align with our mission and values.  

 

  • Committees often collaborate with the Communications Committee to issue information to our audiences.

 

  • This table provides the set of guidelines regarding  how the Executive Committee has agreed to communicate with each audience, and which sub-Committees are responsible for that communication.

 

How do we approach communications with the public?

 

  • The Executive Committee decided not to share lists of our members or Steering Committee members on the website to protect their privacy.  We also will not share any individual’s email address.  

 

  • The Executive Committee decided that we would not have the ability for the general public to sign up for an email list. Campaigns have expressed concerns about sending information to subscribers who we have not verified, as many opposition researchers use general subscriptions lists to gather information. The Communications Committee will change the subscription box on the website from “Stay in the Know” to text that encourages only potential members to sign up (e.g., “Interested in Becoming a Member?”)

 

  • The Executive Committee decided to have only a private Facebook group, and no other social media presence. The reason for this decision is to foster greater sharing among our members by providing them with a private space in which to have conversations. The team decided not to have both a private Facebook page and a public Facebook page right now, as two pages would be difficult to manage and potentially confusing for current members.

 

 

Event and Conduct Guidelines

 

Who can attend events?

 

  • Invest to Elect events may be attended only by :

 

    • Women and gender nonconforming individuals 

    • Men who are a featured speaker at the event or a staff member of a featured speaker, reside with the Invest to Elect member who is hosting a given event, are working at the event as a service provider (e.g., caterer)

 

  • Prospective members may attend half of the membership meetings in a calendar year without making a commitment. After that point, they may attend membership meetings only if they make a membership commitment for that year.

 

  • Members may invite women who are not members to attend fundraisers under the same attendance contribution minimums as regular members.

 

The Executive Committee decided not to allow any other individuals to attend events. The discussion included the question of whether women who are not members or prospects may attend events. The Executive Committee decided not to allow this exception out of a desire to keep the policies simple and understandable. 

 

How do we run our events to ensure they are of the most value possible to our attendees?

 

The meeting leader will provide the following information to all attendees: 

 

  • Welcome to all new members and attendees and thank you to host

  • Basic explanation of Invest to Elect

  • Request to reserve questions until end of presentation

  • Audience Q&A Guidelines:

    • We ask that you help us create a learning environment that’s of benefit to all women present. 

    • Our meetings are a safe space for our members to ask listen, discuss and ask questions. 

    • We encourage all of you to ask questions and never to think that your question is a “dumb” question. 

    • You can help by limiting the scope of your question so that all members might have time to also ask a question. 

    • Please also use our Q&A period for questions, and not comments, so we can learn from the expertise of our panelists.

    • Please be respectful of differing opinions and dissenting views on issues or candidates. 

    • We would request that audience members not make individual solicitations for donations or campaign support from other audience members (during Q&A and the social parts of the event).

Get Involved!