Chapter/OC FAQ

Q: Is DSA a 501c3 or 501c4?

A: DSA is a 501c4. There is a second organization, Democratic Socialists of America Fund, which is a 501c3 and does educational work. Sometimes DSA makes a request for a grant from the DSA Fund to cover 501c3 permissible educational projects by DSA. There is also a federal PAC called Democratic Socialists of America PAC.


Q: Our group is just starting to organize. Do you have online materials to help?

A: Yes. Our organizing blog has downloadable handouts, articles, and tips. DSA also has educational webinars and conference calls on an ongoing basis. Check the calendar regularly. We also offer online activist skills trainings.


Q: Can I get a list of all members in my area so I can contact them?

A: No. Since the election, DSA has had massive growth, as well as growing concerns about member information privacy. We only send full member lists to chapters in the lead up to their local elections. We send new member lists to a few chapters/OCs who were already organizing before the election. We will NOT send new member lists to newly established OCs. Instead, we can send out email blasts to members in your area. These email blasts have a very high open rate. To set up an eblast for your area, email Eileen at ecasterline (at) dsausa (dot) org with your message body, subject line, and the contact info for your group.


Q: I have organizing questions that are specific to my area. Who should I ask for help?

A: You can contact your organizing point of contact with national DSA. If you have not been assigned a NATIONAL organizing mentor, fill out the chapter forming interest form on the national website and we will send you information about our next Chapter Organizing Training Call (Unless you have already done so. In that case, we are likely scrambling to identify a mentor that can work with you and will get back to you as soon as possible.)


Q: I’m organizing a new group in my area. What do we need to apply for Organizing Committee (OC) status?

A: To apply to be an Organizing Committee, make sure you have at least five dues-paying members willing to sign on to organize in your area. The national office also strongly suggests you make your own group email address and group phone number (using Google Voice or similar program) so no one’s personal email and phone number is listed on our website. Finally, you will need to submit a list of zip codes for areas you intend to organize in. NOTE: this list doesn’t have to be the same as your final Chapter application list of zip codes. You may discover that a modified area makes more sense once you are organizing on the ground. But this allows us to check for any jurisdictional issues with neighboring chapters. When you are ready, fill out the online OC application form. The national office will notify you when we receive your application, and if we have any questions about your application. Once your application is received, and the membership status of the applicants is confirmed, the National Political Committee (elected national leadership) of DSA will vote to accept your application.


Q: I’m leading an Organizing Committee (OC) that has over 15 dues-paying members. What do we need to file for Chapter status?

A: First, note that the National Political Committee of DSA is unlikely to approve a statewide chapter application, though we do allow statewide OCs to allow people to build momentum before then breaking into manageable geographic areas where people organize face to face at the community level. Second, to become a chapter requires drafting by-laws for your chapter, holding a meeting where at least 15 founding members approve the by-laws and sign on (physically sign as well as submit their names, email and addresses typed so our database manager can confirm memberships), and then submitting the ratified by-laws to the national office with a list of zip codes you want to use for your local chapter area. Third, note that local chapter bylaws should largely match the sample bylaws from the national office, which you can get from your mentor or by emailing info (at) dsausa (dot) org.


Q: My chapter is having elections soon. How do I get a full list of active members?

A: Chapters that are listed on the national website map may email Eileen at ecasterline (at) dsausa (dot) org using their official email address listed on the website. Lists will only be provided for elections or voting at this time. Make sure to give her at least a week to assemble the list.


Q: Can I get the tax ID number of DSA to set up a bank account for my chapter?

A: Not at this time. We are reviewing our financial practices vis a vis chapters at this time and hope to have guidance ready within the next two months. For now, discuss best practices with your mentor.


 

Q: My OC/Chapter wants to reserve meeting space in a library/public building, and we need to prove our non-profit status to do so. How do we get a copy of DSA’s tax letter?

A: First, make sure that the library accepts 501c4 tax letters, not just 501c3. All DSA meetings fall under our 501c4 activities so that is the letter we must provide. If the library accepts 501c4 letters, send a request for 501c4 letter to lflores (at) dsausa (dot) org that includes your group’s name, why the library needs the tax letter (i.e. reserving meeting space) and the contact information for the person at the library who receives tax letters. The national office will submit the letter directly to the library for you.


Q: Can my OC/chapter get an official @dsausa.org email address?

A: No. Unfortunately the national office does not have the capacity, nor the money, to create and maintain dsausa.org email addresses for local groups. We strongly suggest you make your own group email address so no one’s personal email is listed on our website, such as XDSA@gmail.com. We also suggest creating a group phone number (using Google Voice or similar program) so no one’s personal phone number is listed on our website.


Q: We have new contact information or have a new website or social media account we want posted to the DSA Chapters webpage. How do we get our info updated?

A: Send any updated information (contact information, new webpages, changes in leadership) to Eileen at ecasterline (at) dsausa (dot) org and CC your national point of contact for organizing. Please remember to update Eileen when you have elections and change leadership, too.


 

Q: How do I get members of my local group added to DSA Activist?

A: DSA Activist is for members actively engaged in leading and organizing local groups. The current chair(s) must email Eileen at ecasterline (at) dsausa (dot) org with the name and email address of the active organizer/local leader. NOTE: Eileen will not approve the request if the person emailing is not on the master list of chapter/OC leaders. If your group recently held elections and you have not yet contacted the national office with the updated list of officers, the old chair(s) must contact Eileen with the DSA Activist request and the list of updated officers.


Q: We are having an event/meeting/rally, and I want to order swag. How can I get some?

A: To help the national office prioritize swag orders for organized grassroots DSA groups, we created a Google Form that you should fill out. Fill in the required information and what you want to order. If you do not fill out the form we won’t be able to expedite your order. You will still need to make the donation through the DSA Swag Shop. Email info (at) dsausa (dot) org if you have questions. Also, make sure to provide at least 2 weeks advanced notice for us to fulfill the order. If you are ordering more than 50 buttons, please allow at least 3 weeks.


Q: We want to create our own swag specific to our chapter/OC. Are we allowed to do that?

A: Yes! However we need you to follow certain specifications:

  • Swag must be made either by union printers with union materials (and stamped with a union bug) or made with donated labor and be noted as such with “labor donated”.
  • Swag design should follow our design guidelines.
  • If you need help with design, contact the design team at dsa.design.committee (at) gmail (dot) com.

Q: We submitted an Organizing Committee or Chapter application and the national website has not been updated yet.

A: This means either the National Political Committee has not voted on it yet or the national staff has not completed the administrative work to get it on the website.