Organizational Structure


Developing Leadership

Sustaining a social justice program in your congregation relies on your committee or group’s ability to develop new leaders who will take on responsibility and can lead the congregation in new and positive directions. Think of leadership development as a way of approaching everything you do as you engage in congregation-based social justice work.

Steps you can take to develop new leaders:

  • Once you assume a leadership position, consider it your first priority to find your replacement and work with them throughout your term.
  • Try not to do things for people that they can do themselves. This is especially important when working in partnership.
  • Alternate who runs or facilitates meetings, who serves as spokesperson, and who plans or takes responsibility for various actions.
  • Ask for feedback from new members of your committee or from other members of the congregation on decisions that are being made. Be willing to be challenged and to change.
  • If you’re doing something alone, stop and think about why that’s the case and if you should be doing it at all. Sometimes it’s better to let something fall than to carry it solely on your shoulders. This can be a good wake up call for others that they cannot rely on one person to do all the work.
  • Provide varying types of engagement for members of your congregation. Different people will want to do different types of social justice work—direct service, education, witness, and advocacy—and new leaders will emerge naturally.
  • Do one-to-one conversations between members of your group. These conversations not only allow people to understand each other’s motivations and interests, but also build an accountability structure in which people begin working on behalf of the group rather than themselves individually.
Role of the Board

The Board, in most cases is a legal entity with overall responsibility for the organization. New members need to understand this role and be given the tools to do this work. Listed below are key functions of the board and some on-line resources to provide further information.

  • Determine the organization’s role and mission
  • Select the Executive Director (or equivalent) and assess the Executive Director’s performance.
  • Ensure effective planning. Provide adequate resources.
  • Manage resources effectively. It is critical that Board members get timely reports from the Board chair or staff and know what is happening in the organization.
  • Evaluate the organization’s programs and services.
  • Ensure that the organization is adhering to its legal responsibilities.
  • Recruit new Board members.

Online resource for Boards: Board Source

Sample Tasks
  • Thank you notes for donations of time and money
  • Finance – managing the accounts, preparing the financial reports, and filing tax returns
  • Legal compliance – Filing tax returns and other state reports which may be required under your state’s incorporation laws
  • Ongoing fund development – contacts with churches, membership drives, grants
  • Web updates
  • Communications – newsletters, email
  • Volunteer engagement/follow-up
  • Managing the issues, working with partners, designing campaigns, organizing volunteers to take action: i.e., recruiting volunteers, speaking engagements, attending events, correspondence, organizing meetings.


Example Committee Structure (from UULMNJ):

Public Policy and Research Committee identifies and implements the process for determining the priority issues for education and advocacy; maintains awareness of relevant NJ legislative developments and emerging priority issues; develops and maintains strategic relationships with other statewide advocacy organizations to establish partnering opportunities; coordinates with other UULMNJ committees to maintain effective channels of communication, problem identification, and establishing overarching
policies and procedures; identifies and maintains effective mechanisms to communicate emerging legislative and public policy developments; obtains or develops and shares relevant advocacy and educational materials with interested congregants, statewide.

Mobilization/Rapid Response works under the Public Policy & Research Committee to develop templates for advocacy, including decision maker/legislators to be contacted, and develops alerts to be issued through the Communications Committee.

Priority Issue Subcommittees: Economic Justice, Health Care, Environment, and Emerging (other issues): Each subcommittee has a coordinator, researches upcoming legislation, develops and recommends position statements and advocacy action to the Public Policy & Research Committee. Research will include input and assistance from local Congregational Action Teams.

Communications oversees the various mechanisms for communicating with congregations, the public at large, media, and public officials. It coordinates work with other committees and subcommittees that provide content for the website, media outlets, and communicates with congregations and interested individuals. It serves as a resource, housing communications tools such as a News Bureau, a speakers bureau, publications development and fact sheets, e-communications, etc.

Congregational Relations develops, maintains and enhances the relationship between the UULMNJ and NJ congregations to support UULMNJ’s advocacy efforts through Congregation Action Teams and congregations’ local social justice programs. It fosters the spiritual foundation of justice ministry; gives input about, and assistance; with, the Affiliation Agreement and process; supports the dynamics of the Plenary Council; develops and disseminates educational and worship materials; assists with leadership
training opportunities, lobby days, and conferences; fosters the engagement of youth and adult UUs.

Task Force for Organizational Structure and Incorporation coordinates and oversees completion of necessary steps to establish UULMNJ as a non-profit organization; researches and presents options concerning incorporation to Steering Committee/Board; oversees application process to obtain status as a non-profit organization (501c3) at federal and state level; reviews bylaws to ensure consistency with
UULMNJ’s mission and intention to obtain non-profit status.

Development Committee researches and identifies funding sources; coordinates and implements fundraising campaigns; outreaches to individuals to become Friends of UULMNJ.

Financial/Budget Committee develops annual operating budget and monitors expenditures; develops and maintains financial procedures; liaisons with fiscal sponsor, as long as applicable.

Personnel/Policies and Procedures Committee develops job descriptions and personnel policies; oversees hiring process, drafts policies and procedures necessary for governance and operation of organization.


Important Steps in Retaining Volunteers (From the Praxis Project Advocacy Curriculum, available at

Follow Up: Thank-you, “no show” and reminder calls are all an important part of keeping volunteers.

Incentives: Frequent helper points, certificates, etc., really make a difference.

Flexibility: Not everyone can make it to the meeting. Find things to do for those who can’t.

Fun: People should look forward to the next time they volunteer!

Democracy: Everyone likes to have some say in what they’re involved in. Share decision making when possible.

Rituals: They don’t have to be fancy; just regular “customs” that build organizational culture — like special ways of opening or closing meetings, welcoming new volunteers, etc.

Efficiency: Respect people’s time, be organized.

Production: Make sure you accomplish something and always acknowledge what you’ve done together.