Civil Rights, Social Action, Advocacy

Virginia Organizing

Real People. Real Change.

Charlottesville, VA


Virginia Organizing is a statewide grassroots organization dedicated to challenging injustice by empowering people in local communities to address issues that affect the quality of their lives. As a non-partisan organization, Virginia Organizing especially encourages the participation of those who have had traditionally little or no voice in our society. By building relationships with diverse individuals and groups throughout the state, Virginia Organizing strives to get them to work together, democratically and non-violently, for change.

Ruling Year


Principal Officer

Mr. Brian Johns

Main Address

703 Concord Avenue

Charlottesville, VA 22903 USA

Formerly Known As

Virginia Organizing Project


community organizing, social racial and economic justice, diversity





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Civil Rights, Social Action, and Advocacy N.E.C. (R99)

IRS Filing Requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Social Media

Programs + Results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Virginia Organizing

Where we work

Charting Impact

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have they accomplished so far and what's next?

The overall purpose of Virginia Organizing is to create a strong grassroots force for long-term change which has a diverse base and includes people who have not been active before.

Our long-term goals are:

1. To create new local community organizations throughout the state that are diverse, multi-issue and working for long-term social change.

2. To assist in making existing community organizations stronger and connected with other local and statewide groups in Virginia.

3. To enhance the skill levels of local community leaders of all ages.

4. To help community leaders understand, analyze, and, if necessary, change public policies.

Our job is to help Virginians realize their true potential as citizens in a democracy, and the promise that ordinary people and their concerns really do matter. Our goal is to help people create durable power -- non-partisan power -- they can use to fashion a more fair, just Virginia over time.

As we use the motto, “real people, real change," we will continually stress the “common good" and the need to focus on “community values."

Virginia Organizing uses an intentional method of building one-to-one relationships among people of diverse backgrounds, identifying issues of concern, providing training in research and leadership, and implementing strategies that break down traditional divisions as well as achieve concrete results.

Community organizing at Virginia Organizing emphasizes both the need to address current problems and also the long-term need to build leadership across Virginia. Each organizational move strives to contribute toward building more strategic capacity. As we increase our leader, staff, intern and volunteer resources, as well as develop even stronger working relationships with other groups, we are in a position to go deeper in many more concentrated geographic areas. This should result in much stronger local groups, and will enhance our presence at the state level even more.

For the past 24 years, Virginia Organizing has established a solid community organizing track record in Virginia. Virginia Organizing has provided assistance in the development of new local organizations addressing social and economic issues in communities across the state and has created a growing network of labor, human rights, faith, housing, environment, education and other non-profit groups to work together to achieve concrete improvements. In the process, Virginia Organizing has built a solid organizational infrastructure for strategic campaign planning, communications, grassroots leadership development and fundraising. With 15 chapters across the Commonwealth, a staff of 17, and solid working relationships with a growing list of local, state and national groups, we are proud of the long list of accomplishments that can be found at

Our indicators include:

• Providing training and consultation to our members on at least three major federal and three major state policies and five local policies
• Holding an annual “power analysis" gathering with the State Governing Board, leaders, staff, and representatives of allied groups
• Having at least 1,200 community leaders learn a new skill
• Having at least 150 leadership training sessions
• Providing consultations to at least 100 groups
• Helping to distribute at least 200 letters to the editor, op-eds and radio spots statewide
• Having at least 1,500 one-to-one meetings with people who have previously not heard about Virginia Organizing
• Having at least 100 constituent meetings with legislators
• Having at least 30 interns each year
• Having educational materials (downloadable) about our issue campaigns on the Virginia Organizing website

Virginia Organizing uses a process evaluation approach. We work together to define specific goals and objectives and maintain an on-going analysis of possible outcomes. Using this method, we are able to evaluate our progress on a continuing basis and make modifications to our plans to facilitate successful outcomes.

Virginia Organizing's evaluation process includes the Virginia Organizing State Governing Board, the Executive Committee and Virginia Organizing staff.

During the last weekend of April, the board, staff, chapter leaders and key allies get together to determine who has power in the state and what it will take to change the balance of power so that we can be more effective in getting the changes we want. We use this opportunity to determine which constituencies, campaigns and geographic areas need more organizing support. This process allows us to set specific change indicators that can be evaluated each year.

Virginia Organizing holds an annual retreat for all Board members and key personnel in November. Our organizational planning includes: fiscal needs, technological improvements, communication standards, leadership and staff development, power analyses, representation in governance, and on-going evaluation of the organization.

Local chapters and statewide campaign committees (Health Care, Social Security, Immigration Reform) develop written strategy plans and revise them as needed.

In addition, each staff person does a monthly workplan and the organizing staff has weekly conference calls and monthly face-to-face meetings.

Responsibility for overall program evaluation rests with the Virginia Organizing State Governing Board, which sets evaluation criteria and expectations for program results. Final program reports document program outcomes. In addition, Virginia Organizing has a system for tracking (weekly) the activities and accomplishments of organizing and administrative work to provide measurable reports. We keep detailed records of media coverage, workshops, consultations, action alerts and other activities.

Virginia Organizing publishes an annual report in January and a mid-year report in July.

How We Listen

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

Source: Self-reported by organization

the feedback loop
check_box We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
check_box We shared information about our current feedback practices.
How is the organization collecting feedback?
We regularly collect feedback through: paper surveys, focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees, suggestion box/email.
How is the organization using feedback?
We use feedback to: to identify and remedy poor client service experiences, to identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, to make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, to inform the development of new programs/projects, to identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, to strengthen relationships with the people we serve.
With whom is the organization sharing feedback?
We share feedback with: the people we serve, our staff, our board, our funders.
What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?
It is difficult to: we don't have any major challenges to collecting feedback.
What significant change resulted from feedback
We have added additional support for people with disabilities at our conferences as a result of suggestions from participants.

External Reviews



Virginia Organizing

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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  • Address, phone, website and contact information
  • Forms 990 for 2018, 2017 and 2016
  • A Pro report is also available for this organization.

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Board Leadership Practices

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section, which enables organizations and donors to transparently share information about essential board leadership practices.

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?