Transforming Knowledge into Change

Social Movements and Philanthropy: How Foundations Can Support Movement Building

Building on research conducted for the California Endowment, this article describes five core movement-building elements and provides a framework for activities that foundations can support to foster movement building. Movement building presents unique challenges to foundations. Because movements, by definition, must be driven by the people who are most affected, foundations cannot determine the goals and timetables of a movement. Foundation investments in movements are just that – investments for the long term. Foundations tend to prefer projects that have specific goals and outcomes, whereas movement building requires investments in infrastructure, including capacity building and leadership development, often without the kind of tangible successes that can be clearly identified and credited. Moreover, the timeline of foundation grants – one to three years – is short by movement standards. Finally, traditional evaluation methods do not apply to movement building. Nevertheless, drawing from a variety of new approaches developed for evaluating advocacy and policy-change strategies, a framework for evaluating movement building is proposed that can assist foundations in identifying measureable outcomes and tracking progress.


Bibliographic Details
Author Barbara Masters, M.A., and Torie Osborn, M.B.A.
Publisher Johnson Center for Philanthropy
Publication Date October 2, 2010
Publication City Grand Rapids, MI
Publication Work
Resource Type
Resource Focus
Submitted to Point K November 5, 2010 - 1:19pm


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