Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Word Games

"Social movements challenge conditions and assumptions about people's lives. In doing so, they strive to reshape certain core values widely accepted by the mainstream of society. Because these core values influence the distribution of power, movements for social change must, ultimately, seek to change prevailing power dynamics by influencing the public discourse and public policy."

Barbara Masters and Torie Osborn, Social Movements and Philanthropy: How Foundations Can Support Movement Building," The Foundation Review 2010 Vol 2:2.

This important article should be read by everyone in philanthropy and the world of nonprofits and grassroots activism. Many of these challenges require long-term social movement building, not discrete programs or campaigns. Yet, as much in philanthropy, social movement building is the latest phrase on the rhetorical wheel of  doing good, competing with collective impact, evidence-based investing, and scale. Soon the wheel will turn again to capacity, results, and leadership. None of these is easy. But switching words when convenient helps no one.

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