Where do community organizers fall off the rails?
Crisis—They communicate to their audience with invented urgency. Everything is an emergency, a crisis that must be dealt with now, or it's all over. This boosts short-term response, of course, but destroys attention and trust. The boy shouted wolf, but the villagers didn't come.
Cash—They fundraise. All the time. Everything that isn't a crisis is a pitch for money, or sometimes it's both. They justify this by pointing out that without money, the other other side will win.
Cliffs—Most pernicious of all is a focus on today, not tomorrow. One campaign manager said to me, "I don't care a bit about what happens to this list a week from now. If we don't win the election, it doesn't matter. Burn em if you need to, we go out of business on election day." What a selfish, antisocial, cynical way to view the world.
On the other hand, effective tribes are built around:
Connection—We are here for the members of the tribe and the change they seek to make. Are people in this for the long haul, the destination as well as the journey? What do we stand for? Are relationships being built, or is this merely an ATM?
Commitment—There's no cliff. This is a mission, a journey, a cultural convenant for the long haul. We'll be here tomorrow and next year and ten years after that.
Conversation—It might feel like a broadcast tool, but it's not. The tribe thrives when it talks to itself, not when it merely listens to you shout.
(More on Tribes can be found here).