Why Movements Matters

people power is on the rhize!

Nonviolent social and political movements around the world are proliferating faster than at any other point in history. While many people are capitalizing on big, trigger moments, we often see their momentum die after a minor win or we see them stifled after a certain point, unable to continuously engage and recruit new people. We see these same struggles in traditional NGOs, which are regularly under-funded and under-capacity.

Movement-building is a great equalizer:

It is proven to be one of the most effective strategies to preserve open civil society spaces by putting people’s voices at the helm of progress. Social movements force cultural, behavioral and policy changes that inherently subvert unequal power structures and transform systems from the ground up by enlisting people to demand agency and work collectively. Activists target local symptoms of broader problems that, when added up, shift and ultimately transform the status quo globally.

Some practitioners contest the value of the social movement, seeing it as disruptive, but that is precisely why social movements can also be so effective. They contribute to civil society’s overall strategic capacity to make the cultural, economic, political and behavioral changes needed to adapt to uncertain times (Chenoweth).

Successful social movements innately require active participation by a diverse citizenry of at least 3.5% of the population (Chenoweth). This happens through the development of broad-based, decentralized, yet organized and coordinated leadership capacity, built on deep, trustful relationships. People find a moral calling, collective identity, belonging and ownership with their participation in social movements, which can only happen when the movement has clear goals and common purpose.

Far too often passionate and committed, yet inexperienced, catalysts across the world duplicate each other’s mistakes. Yet most of these skills are easily learned if given the access to learn them.  But the required diversity and numbers needed to succeed means that leaders at all levels of the movement must be empowered with the capacity to recruit and train others to take collective action with them. Only through movement-building can committed, participatory leadership be developed and sustained at scale.

Why we Rhize

There are proven strategies and approaches for nonviolent civil resistance that fall under three core principles: (1) a strategic movement-building lens that allows leaders to think beyond any one victory, (2) an ethic of community-building and (3) an ability to effectively and strategically activate constituents using both grassroots and digital platforms. Yet impassioned activists rarely have access to these strategies, too often reinventing the wheel and repeating past mistakes. Rhize works with movements to build on their strengths and integrate these elements with the goal of creating sustained, strategic and impactful action that changes the status quo.