SOCIAL & POLICY CHANGE
Building a Grassroots Movement
A grassroots public health movement is an organized effort to address threats to the health and safety of a community, led by passionate advocates and organizations that devote resources to movement building. The power of a well-run grassroots movement can overcome the dominance of money in politics, making it one of the only ways advocates can achieve fundamental policy and social change. While authentic movements usually start locally, they can grow to a national or even global level.
Organizing Around a Grassroots Issue
Grassroots movements usually form around a single issue that people care deeply about, such as healthy families, violence prevention, or environmental justice. People get engaged on issues in which they have a personal stake, and are energized by seeing an opportunity to improve their world. Grassroots leaders can channel this passion and commitment and organize for change.
Translating Passion into a Vision
Grassroots movements begin with passionate activists who see an opportunity to improve their communities. Their passion is translated into an actionable vision that energizes grassroots advocates and leaders. A successful vision creates a compelling view of the future that provides a clear focus for leadership, supporters, and goals.
Creating a Strategy to Achieve the Goals
Leaders of grassroots movements have clear goals that they want to achieve. Movements and movement goals are bottom-up, not top-down – they are rooted in an ongoing dialogue between activists and leaders. A well-defined strategy will ensure the achievement of these goals. Setting attainable, stepwise milestones within a larger strategy helps leaders assess their progress and eventually reach a “tipping point” of policy and social change. Each victory must be a step toward realizing the ultimate vision. Successful strategies have included: leveraging research for evidence-based policy change, educating family and friends, grassroots lobbying, and media advocacy to get the word out to the public and policy makers.
Harnessing Resources to Build Power
Authentic grassroots movements build power and momentum to create long-term policy and social change. Leaders can build a sustainable movement by reflecting on their current resources and actively working to build capacity through leadership development, training, networking, and fundraising. Social networks are an effective means to reach and move people to action. Activated leaders can hold elected officials accountable and create community-driven policy solutions. Local policy successes pave the way for statewide and national victories and, ultimately, permanent social change.
Achieving Social and Policy Change
Grassroots movements don’t just change laws -- they change society. By changing society’s attitudes about health risks and solutions, grassroots movements can save thousands of lives rather than helping one person at a time. Past successes offer grassroots leaders a blueprint for building new movements today – effective movements for nonsmokers’ rights, LGBTQ civil rights, residential fire sprinklers, and others not only succeeded in passing better laws, they changed the way people view public health and society.
Grassroots movements CAN and DO create fundamental and enduring social change. Get the leadership development and resources you need to kick start your movement today.