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Nine Common Approaches for Creating Change- PART 2

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

I'm examining FSG's nine-point framework for creating social change in my June blog. Check out part one covering the nine-point framework. FSG is a mission-driven consulting firm supporting leaders in creating large-scale, lasting social change. They have identified nine common approaches to creating social change. The framework includes the following:

1. Informing Policy is a way of changing rules and regulations to support important issues. This framework element involves conducting research, collecting and analyzing data, and providing evidence-based insights and expertise on specific issues or areas of concern. The goal of informing policy is to ensure that decisions made by policymakers are well-informed, evidence-based, and aligned with the needs and interests of the society or organization they serve. A great example of informing policy in action is the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). The organization engages in grassroots organizing to build support for policies that benefit working people. SEIU knocks on doors, makes phone calls, and mobilizes people to attend public events to raise awareness about these issues.

2. Mobilizing Communities is the process of bringing together people from a community to work together towards a common goal. The approach addresses various issues, such as poverty, environmental degradation, and social injustice. The Environmental Justice Movement is a community mobilization effort that works to address environmental racism and to ensure that all communities have access to clean air and water.

3. Supporting Programs provide direct services to people affected by the problem they are addressing. This social change approach is all about helping deliver and grow high-quality services. Tactical approaches to supporting the implementation of programs include funding, volunteering, partnership, and advocacy.

4. Shifting Narrative is fundamental to social change because it alters how people view an issue or a community. Narrative shifting is a complex and ongoing process that requires persistence, strategic communication, and collaboration. The work involves multiple sector stakeholders, building compelling cases for change based on evidence, values, and empathy. PETA's "I'd Rather Go Naked Than Wear Fur" and the Black Lives Matter Campaigns are examples of shifting narratives relating to social injustice and cruelty involved in the fur industry.

5. Generating Knowledge enables lasting change by building on information or creating new insights to solve problems or improve understanding. Facebook is partnering with the World Health Organization (WHO) to develop a new social listening health tool. The tool uses AI to analyze social media data to track the spread of diseases and to identify emerging health risks.

6. Building Capacity is vital in providing training and resources to help others develop the skills and knowledge they need to create social change. The Praxis Project provides training and resources to help community organizers develop the skills and knowledge they need to drive social change.

7. Catalyzing Collaboration focuses on efforts to unify cross-sector actors, gain momentum, and move toward common goals. A great example of catalyzing collaboration is the Sustainable Development Goals, a set of 17 goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015. The goals focus on various issues: poverty, hunger, climate change, and inequality. The goals are ambitious, but they offer a roadmap for a more sustainable and equitable future.

8. Influencing Funders is a multifaceted undertaking that requires advocacy for policy changes, coalition building, public awareness campaigns, inclusive decision-making, and challenging deeply entrenched structures and interests. Participatory grant making is an excellent outcome relating to influencing funders. Some funders are adopting participatory grant making approaches, which include involving community members, beneficiaries, or other stakeholders in the decision-making process for funding allocations. Funders can ensure that resources are responsive to the needs and priorities of the communities they aim to serve by giving those directly affected by funding decisions a voice and agency in the process.

9. Shaping Markets is the process of influencing the structure and dynamics of a market to create a favorable environment for a business. This can be done by a variety of means, including creating demand, influencing regulations, building partnerships, and setting standards. Netflix has been very successful at shaping the market for streaming video. The company has done this by setting standards for the industry, creating demand for its service, and influencing regulations. Netflix has also successfully built partnerships with content providers and consolidated power in the industry. In turn, content creators can use powerful platforms such as Netflix to raise awareness about critical social issues and promote positive change, which will increasingly play an essential role in shaping the world.

These nine approaches are mutually reinforcing. Many social change organizations use a combination of methods to achieve their goals. The best approach for a particular organization will depend on the specific problem they are addressing, the available resources, and the context in which they work. Ultimately, the framework is a tool you can adapt and customize to fit specific needs and contexts as strategy is born.

The sharing of ideas can transform the world in profound ways. Ideas inspire, challenge, and ignite change- bridging divides- breaking down barriers- and fostering collaboration. It is through collective sharing that societies evolve, grow, and adapt to the ever-changing needs and challenges of the world. Thank you to FSG for sharing this powerful framework and to all the social change agents for shaping a better future for all.

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