Strategy creation

6 Elements of a 21st Century Strategic Changemaker

Photo: h.koppdelaney via Flickr (Creative Commons)
Photo: h.koppdelaney via Flickr (Creative Commons)

I launched Organizing Change about a month ago so I thought this would be a good moment to discuss more about what it means to be a strategic changemaker.

While many organizations are still focusing on single issue campaigns, the desire to connect our multi-issue values to our activism continues to grow. This demonstrates the urge folks have to build on our history of activism (both single issue and those more intersectional) and construct movements that tie together our visions.

Analysis of what we need to do to build strategic cross-issue efforts, has been dramatically escalating in the past few years. From Rinku Sen’s movement building vision to Organizing Upgrade’s drive to “Engage Left Organizers in Strategic Dialogue,” I can see how my writing here is only a small part of a larger push to ensure resilient shifts occur.


6 Elements of Strategic Changemakers for the 21st Century


Through Organizing Change I aim to highlight 6 key elements of strategic changemakers. Below I describe these 6 elements in more detail and reasons why they matter.

1. Strategic changemakers lay the groundwork for “movement moments.” This means organizing for the long-term, and working to institute rigorous movement building practices. As I looked at earlier, this also involves developing your individual and organization world vision and detailing out concrete steps to get there.

2. Strategic changemakers recognize the power of words and, thus, endeavor to make our language and culture intentional by “changing the narrative.” Whether this means addressing how our history of oppression led to ingrained cultures or learning how to make our moral values manifest themselves, strategic changemakers have the responsibility to conscientiously mold language/culture.

3. Strategic changemakers consistently aim to hone their skills and develop the leadership of themselves and others. Individuals learn concepts and techniques in multiple ways, and thus organizers must support the leadership capacity of those around them.

4. Strategic changemakers dedicate themselves to the process of ending injustice. This means looking to see whether our own intentions lead to the desired results, and confronting oppressive institutions that limit our expectations of ourselves.

5. Strategic changemakers learn about historical struggles and how current systems formed. This means we must analyze ways movements pushed forward positive change, and take time to understand how our efforts fit into the timeline of activism.

6. Strategic changemakers look to involve themselves in cross-issue organizing. We’ve made some major changes before, we just need to develop sustained shifts that express our core values.


Celebrating Organizing Change’s 1st month of posting!


This week marks the completion of Organizing Change’s 1st month (!!!) of posting on these organizing attributes.

I just want to thank you for reading and everyone else who has supported me in the launch, from my brother Tony who has read every post and given me feedback on each one, those who helped share the blog’s launch and posts (thanks Ruby, Claire, Marie, and Kate!), those who commented (thanks Kaitleen, Matt, Heath, and Mom!), and to those who gave me encouragement such as Jeremy, Meaghan and my sister Hayley!

I’m looking forward to this continuing and I am super grateful to all of you for making me excited to keep writing!

To see more discussion of these key changemaker elements, click to subscribe to Organizing Change.

By Drew Serres

Drew Serres began working on Organizing Change to combine his dedication to showing impactful organizing practices with his passion for learning. Find out more about him at the About Page and see his updates on Twitter and Google+