María Ximena Plaza
The North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA)
The North American Congress on Latin America (NACLA), a 43 year old not-for-profit organization based in New York City “that works toward a world in which the nations and peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean are free from oppression and injustice, and enjoy a relationship with the United States based on mutual respect, free from economic and political subordination. To that end, [its] mission is to provide information and analysis on the region, and on its complex and changing relationship with the United States, as tools for education and advocacy – to foster knowledge beyond borders.”
Background: As a progressive/left organization NACLA has had a long history of exposing the pernicious effects of US policy in Latin America. But it has also highlighted the many ways in which organized citizens both in the US and across the region can make a difference in the lives and livelihoods of the most effected by such policies. During its first three decades NACLA was a primary source of information on politics and policy, especially for the committed activist left. But with the advent of the internet and new modalities of communication and coordination, NACLAs voice has become one of many in an often fragmentary, rapid and short term mediasphere that places greater emphasis on currency and diversity than on substantive and analytical depth. This changing situation has contributed to a slow attrition in circulation and in NACLAs subscriber base. While a new and more vigorous emphasis on donor fundraising has helped to ameliorate this situation, the reality is that NACLA has suffered a steady decline in revenues which has lead to a gradual reduction in staff and a realignment of tasks onto the remaining staff. While this has been long recognized to be untenable, it has now reached a breaking point.
However, a NACLA board member has recently issued a $100,000 challenge. That is, the member will match every dollar given to NACLA up to $100,000. While this will not resolve NACLAs difficulties in the long term, it does provide a short term opportunity to reorganize and reposition NACLA so that it can fully transition itself to the new media and financial environment and begin to initiate a new era of growth. To that end NACLA seeks the assistance of a team from GPIA/Milano.
Activities: Assist in Board Liaison and Staff to
a. Conduct an organizational assessment that identifies strength, weaknesses, opportunities and threats
b. Review, revise and refocus a previous strategic plan which was primarily intended to take NACLA more fully online
c. Assess the actual and potential audience for the NACLA’s flagship journal The NACLA Report on the Americas within the context of the new landscape for print media
d. Conduct content analysis of the Report with the goal of identifying market opportunities
e. Examine staff division of labor and develop recommendations on realignment of staff priorities, including which tasks could be outsourced and at what cost
f. Develop and initiate marketing plan that includes ad sales, promotions and earned media
g. Other activities could be identified in addition to or in lieu of the above in negotiation with the board liaison
4. Resources: NACLA can provide working space within its office. Additionally, a fair amount of information related to the listed activities has been collected (e.g., a survey of supporters, collation of web traffic for NACLA content by topic and geography, financial analysis of newsstand sales, etc.) but is in fairly raw form.
Team Composition: Ideally, a New School practicum team would be composed of 4 to 6 students with a range of backgrounds and interests. In particular, the skills and/or training that are needed are the following:
a. Media Analysis and New Media
b. Nonprofit management and fundraising
c. Social entrepreneurship and business development
d. Organizational assessment