PROS :Hands down, the best place for entry-level grassroots/political organizing experience. OCA has trained generations of organizers since 1975 and made more than 11 million front porch visits to engage people in campaigns to protect the public interest. 100% of senior staff started out knocking on doors or calling on the phones, like I did.
I canvassed for four years and moved on to do just about every job there is to do here -including being a volunteer board member while working at another job. I came back in 2007, because this is the most effective and supportive organization I've ever been a part of. We've won 75% of our campaigns in the last decade because of the power of grassroots organizing.
This is great experience for just a summer job or like me, you could use this to launch a career in non-profit management, law, small business, etc. I know tons of OCA alumni who have gone on to do great things and I love to hear their success stories. I'm still close friends with many people I met while canvassing 20 years ago. It's like a brotherhood/sisterhood of people you will always have something in common with.
Even entry-level organizers (full time) get medical and dental benefits, paid vacation and the opportunity to travel and advance quickly. We want to promote people as soon as they are ready because we are building a movement here!
I really loved canvassing and still go out from time to time, just to prove I still got it.
Not everyone has what it takes to do this job. It can be hard and it tests you often. I've seen lots of good people come and go because it just wasn't the right fit.
Field canvassing also involves being in the weather, which is not always a picnic.
As someone who has worked for Ohio Citizen Action, I know that the work OCA does is some of the best kind of work that needs to be done. The work they do impacts people on an individual basis, from issues ranging from clean air and water and health issues that are cause by their direct environment, at the same time empowering citizen to use their voices together to create change they can see in their communities. It's done in an eloquent and simple style, through neighbors writing directly to the company decision makers to make positive changes in the community!
Review from Guidestar
I worked for Ohio Citizen Action in 2000-2001 and had a great time as a member of their team of activists tackling environmental issues in the Cincinnati area. The campaigns addressed environmental problems and quality of life issues for those living near heavy industry, such as getting a chemical company in Reading, OH to reduce odor emissions. The individuals that I had the pleasure of working with were a motivated and very fun group to be a part of. Cheers to Ohio Citizen Action for effective grassroots organizing and true community engagement!
(I chose "volunteer" from the list of roles because it was the closest match, but I was employed by OCA).
Ohio Citizen Action is a not for profit organization. The funds that they raise door-to-door go to support the staff with a living wage and continue getting into communities to educate on the issues and build grassroots support. Through this approach, its research, and work with neighbors who are directly affected by polluting facilities, Ohio Citizen Action has been able to leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in pollution control. What's great about the Good Neighbor Campaign approach is that after the canvassing ends on the issue and companies make commitments, the neighbors and company enjoy more open communication and an improved relationship, not to mention an improved life due to less pollution in their community.
In Marietta, Ohio, we lived with Manganese exposures that were many times a level considered safe for residents. This metal is a neurotoxin and the very young and very old are put at risk for neurological damage: a reduced ability to learn for the young and Parkinson's for the old. This went on for many years with the residents unable to gain traction to make changes at the plant to reduce these exposures. Ohio Citizen Action was able to organize the effort and within a couple years was able to get a committment from the plant to invest $150 million to address emissions and modernize the plant. I was amazed at their success and remain so to this day. We could not have done this without them.
This organization appears to pick up campaigns that do not have straightforward goals and use those campaigns to turn a profit. The proceeds that go into OCA only appear to pay the staff. Ohio Citizen Action does most of their fundraising through door-to-door collecting and telephone calls. They are unorganized and generally know very little about what they are working on. This organization hires anyone because they utilize people to generate a profit in the same way pyramid schemes work. The terminology used within the office mimics traditional pyramid scheme organizations. It is very clear that their work-force is disposable and they have no shame in treating people like such.