Maximizing the Moments within Movements

Maximizing the Moments within Movements

Three ways to reignite the momentum of your cause-focused movement

In recent times, much attention has been given to the idea of amplifying a significant social moment into a larger, more sustained movement. Advocates and supporters want to see their priorities morph into something deeper and stronger, even if the odds of it being a fly-by-night fascination run high in our hyper-social, “on-to-the-next-thing” society.

For example, cases of alleged police brutality and excessive force show signs of becoming a meaningful force through the developing Black Lives Matter movement. And the emergence of prominent transgender players with star power, like Laverne Cox of “Orange Is the New Black,” is heightening awareness – and tolerance – of myriad trans-related concerns that once lurked in the shadows.

On the flip side of the coin, however, established movements are challenged to stay fresh and relevant amid a dynamic social-change landscape. How can moments turned movements, such as those focused on animal rights, environmental awareness, technology access or poverty alleviation, make the most of the bright spots along their journeys? Even as movements become intertwined into the fabric of our society – via commissions, government agencies, nonprofit organizations or a growing canon of research – how can they be sustained, revitalized and reiterated as relevant?

These are among the unique challenges true movements face. And as the competition for attention, advancement and funds among social-change causes intensifies, the need for movements to maintain their momentum cannot be denied.

Celebrate new progress. Some of the most successful movements have matured into institutions within our communities and nation. When a movement goes from being groups of organized individuals and becomes a foundation, major nonprofit organization or governmental initiative, supporters may begin to think the hardest work is done and assume the cause can simply go into “coast mode.”

But a cause is continual. Organizations should keep supporters engaged and reel in prospective advocates by championing change and acknowledging wins. Spotlighting positive outcomes, sharing new programs and announcing emerging developments in the cause’s space are manageable ways to maintain awareness and showcase impact.

Pay homage to the past. When your cause has come far enough to become embedded in the tapestry of a community, or a major agenda item on an ongoing national conversation, then you’ve likely arrived and achieved many goals. However, reflecting on how far your organization has come can be a major motivator that advances progress.

Recognize key figures in your organization’s history. Develop timelines that detail the evolution of your cause. Create your own times of institutional recognition, integrating them into the culture of the organization. Such an approach educates newcomers, preserves institutional memory and plants seeds for future activism.

Recognize and support spinoff causes. Rarely does a social movement function in isolation without inspiring other cause-focused moments. Where it makes sense, align your organization with spinoff efforts that build on the momentum your efforts and wins generated. Even in the absence of formal, official affiliations with offshoot campaigns, offer some casual kudos through social media, remarks at special events or attendance at the activities of your likeminded counterparts.

Doing so can introduce fresh faces to your organization and even revitalize existing efforts. Additionally, younger organizers and cause newcomers can respectfully latch onto your mission, giving credit where it’s due in their events, promotions and communications.

At what stage did your social cause or nonprofit organization go from being a moment to a movement? How have you tried to keep your ideas, outreach and brand fresh, even as you evolve into an institution? Share with us and many others in the social-change space on The Wakeman Agency’s Facebook community.

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