New tools

New digital tools and social science advances can make big organizing more effective, measurable, and tangible for philanthropy and professional advocates.

Big organizing

Powerful grassroots movements can be built by finding community leaders willing to take on leadership roles, and supporting them to solve deeply rooted problems.

‘Big organizing’ for broad reform

We are in a new golden age of grassroots political engagement, but philanthropy and professional advocates are at risk of being left behind. Top-down campaigns will miss movement energy. And a failure to shift from movement-building into policy campaign action will miss the power of this moment. It’s time for a new synthesis to emerge in which empowered movements make real change. Philanthropy can help.

This report was written in partnership with Mary Blanusa, Senior Director of Strategy for America Achieves.

Building and activating potent movements

The report illustrates the practices and new tools that make movements possible. For each of the four practices listed below we discuss the strategies that funders and advocates can use to build movements, and the tactics that can drive these movements into effective campaign action.

1. Identify issues, venues, and messages to change the common wisdom and improve public policy
– Building: Listen to the grassroots to identify interconnected issues that create movement opportunities
– Action: Take advantage of online communities to test and refine messages

2. Engage and commit ordinary citizens willing to lead and work through setbacks
– Building: Create opportunities for “organic leaders”
– Action: Create a compelling “movement journey” for campaign participants

3. Link issues and campaigns so the movement has tangible goals and a big, diversified vision
– Building: Build an infrastructure that will link campaigns and the movement
– Action: Ensure disciplined coordination

4. Evolve and remain open to new ideas even as the movement focuses on becoming more effective at pursuing current priorities
– Building: Measure the cumulative growth and evolution of the movement over time
– Action: Diversify risk and keep an open mind

Learn more

Do you have any questions about the report’s background, content, or implications for your own work? Please reach out. We’d love to help.

    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.