We are in a new golden age of grassroots political engagement

And philanthropy and professional advocates have the opportunity to support grassroots energy and leverage it to win results. In a recent piece published on the Stanford Social Innovation Review online, Redstone consultants Stacey Chen and Nathan Huttner, with Mary Blanusa, Senior Director of Strategy for America Achieves, offer lessons on how grassroots activists, professional advocates, and foundations can work together to improve public policy.

While much thought has gone into how to sustain elevated levels of civic engagement and how to choose effective activist tactics, philanthropic foundations and advocates must also consider how to overcome this paralyzing debate between pragmatists and idealists, so that targeted campaigns on specific issues and broader grassroots movements are mutually reinforcing.

When funders engage in movement-building, they can deploy new tools so that movements can truly change the status quo

The authors interviewed 20 leaders, funders, and movement-builders who are at the forefront of reimagining how professional advocates can run movement-guided campaigns and help build campaign-ready movements. “They described a new synthesis in the age-old idealist vs. pragmatist debate, which boils down to: Let’s build movements that can run successful, successive campaigns using a “pragmatic” approach, and campaign for good policy in ways that build a grassroots base inspired by the idea of radical transformation.”

Read the white paper “Grassroots Rising” here, and the published piece on SSIR here.

    About the Authors
  • Stacey Chen

    Stacey has worked on strategic planning and advocacy evaluation for a variety of clients during her time at Redstone.

  • Nathan Huttner

    Nathan has helped philanthropic programs working on health, education, and climate and energy to develop strategies that build on clients’ strengths to maximize their positive impact.