September 5, 2023
Understanding & Measuring Power
Measuring What Matters to Build a Multiracial Democracy - DPI Digest
This newsletter highlights the Power Metrics: Measuring What Matters to Build a Multiracial Democracy Report.
Democracy & Power Innovation Fund
Harvard Kennedy School

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 the 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 political power independent of which political party is in office, starting at the local and state levels but with 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.

We focus on concrete examples of three core dimensions of democracy metrics

  • Base-building: measuring the depth and scope of leadership and commitment among individual members of an organized constituency.
  • Collective capacities: measuring the ability to transform individual resources into collective leverage through shared strategy, structure, and solidarity.
  • Impact and influence: measuring what an organized base of people can achieve in the world of legislative, narrative, and electoral victories.

This report also offers specific, practical recommendations for measuring what matters in

democratic practice. This is an emerging area of study, so we invite others to build and innovate on this framework as we co-develop metrics that promote learning and improved practice in the fields of collective action and participatory democracy.

See the Power Metrics Report

Related Research

September 5, 2023
Power Metrics: Measuring What Matters to Build a Multiracial Democracy
This report outlines a framework developed by groups in the DPI Organizing Lab to identify and measure strategies that wield power using the data organizations collect and analyze in their day-to-day work.