The following is a conversation between Leslie Crutchfield, author of How Change Happens: Why Some Social Movements Succeed While Others Don’t, and Denver Frederick, Host of The Business of Giving on AM 970 The Answer in New York City
Denver: There is a lot in the news these days about social movements such as #MeToo, #NeverAgain, and a number of others. Have you ever wondered if there were certain patterns or practices to these movements which ultimately help determine how successful they will be? Well, it turns out, there are, and they have been chronicled in a wonderful new book entitled How Change Happens: Why Some Social Movements Succeed While Others Don’t.
It’s a pleasure to have with us Leslie Crutchfield, its author, who also serves as the Executive Director of the Global Social Enterprise Initiative at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
Good evening, Leslie, and welcome to The Business of Giving.
Leslie: Thank you for having me.
Denver: Wow, what wonderful timing for a book like this to come out. I read your previous book, Forces for Good. In it you stated that the best organizations created movements, not just organizations. Was that a jump-off point for you to get started with How Change Happens?
Leslie: That was exactly the inspiration for this new book on why some movements succeed and others don’t. We knew what made great nonprofits great from our study in Forces for Good– nonprofits like Teach for America, Habitat for Humanity, Environmental Defense Fund, many others–the distinguishing factor was that they were all about driving for these larger causes. With Habitat for Humanity, it wasn’t just about building houses. It was: How do we make poverty housing politically, economically, and religiously unacceptable in this world? They had these big, hairy, audacious goals as Jim Collins would call it. We knew movements distinguish high-impact organizations from others, and then this question kept rattling around in the back of my head: What makes a great movement? So, that’s what led to this recent study which we’ve been engaged with over the last several years to try and tease out the answers.
Denver: What was the general time frame you looked at and researched when identifying successful, and not so successful, movements for this book?
Leslie: We specifically looked in the modern era… changes that have happened since the turn of the 21st century. So, even though many of the movements we studied might have had a long tail, have been going on for decades, we wanted to understand: How do you get to a tipping point in the 2010s?
So, we looked at movements like the ones that led to the massive abandonment of smoking in this country. Smoking rates are now down to 15% for adults. Under 6% for youth. We looked at gay marriage equality. We looked at the gun rights movement. At the same time, we looked at movements during the same era that weren’t successful or might be stuck, or in some cases are just emerging, like the movement for black lives and other newer movements. We were trying to figure out what’s the delta? Why do some get that tipping point and others don’t?
Denver: In the book, you identify six practices of successful social movements. Let’s run through each of them starting with Turn Grassroots Gold. When I read that, it reminded me of Tip O’Neill saying that all politics is local, and this just might be the most important recommendation that you make. What did you find out?
Leslie: It is the most important recommendation. That’s in fact why it is the first chapter of the book; it might seem obvious. Of course, every movement has grassroots activism, protests, demonstrations, voter turnout. It was really surprising to me and my colleagues at Georgetown University who were working with me on the research that some movements just don’t master this. These might have grassroots, but they don’t invest in it, and that means real money, time, resources amplifying and nurturing the grassroots and realizing that change happens from the bottom up. President Obama had a very good saying after the Supreme Court passed the marriage equality ruling in 2015. He did say, “Love is love,” but he also said, “Change comes to Washington, not from Washington.” You’ve got to have big robust grassroots to achieve that kind of change.
Denver: Good example of that would be the NRA.
Leslie: The single most important factor which explains why the gun laws are the way they are in the US today is exactly because of this point. It’s the way the NRA and gun rights movement leaders have mobilized, organized, and amplified their grassroots. So, while it might look like an even competition… if you just were an average person watching the mainstream media coverage of the gun control movement and the gun rights movement, in fact, the media’s pretty biased to the left.
The reality is that the gun rights movement since the 1990s has dramatically expanded to the point where they dwarf the gun control movement. If you just look at it… at the grassroots measures: So let’s uses 2012 as an example. That was the year of the Sandy Hook shooting massacre. We all remember what happened in Newtown with the 26 students and educators that were killed that day. At that time, the NRA had already built up to nearly 5 million members. Whereas the biggest gun control group at that time, Brady campaign, was about half a million. So, the gun control movement at the grassroots was one-tenth the size of the gun rights movement. Everybody says, why after Sandy Hook, if they couldn’t have gotten a law passed, if we couldn’t have gotten anything done, what would it take? What could be more horrible than that? It’s a great question.
What’s changed is that since then, the gun violence prevention side of the equation has really mobilized and ramped up. So after the Sandy Hook School shooting, Shannon Watts, mother of four in Indiana put together Moms Demand Action, started a Facebook page. That merged up with Mayor Bloomberg’s Mayors Against Illegal Guns. And then in 2014 created Everytown for Gun Safety. At the time I finished my research last fall, Everytown was up to about 4 million supporters; post-Parkland, they’re ready to tip past 5 million. For the first time in 2018, you have a gun control movement that’s equal in volume and intensity at the grassroots level, matching the power of the NRA.
Denver: So you got a fair fight for the first time. Should be interesting to see what happens.
Another example, which I don’t think we think of very often, is polio. Because when we think about polio, we think about the World Health Organization, and we think about the Gates Foundation. But actually, there was a lot of on-the-ground support for that as well.
Leslie: Exactly right. The reason why we are this close to eradicating polio from the face of the earth, we have put it out of business for 99% of the populations on Earth is because of Rotary International and its 33,000 chapters and its millions of boots on the ground in every country. In fact, when I was interviewing Bruce Aylward, the intrepid director of the Global Polio Eradication initiative, for decades he says, that he and Bill Gates and their staff would never take a meeting anywhere in the world without a Rotarian by their side because they realize that the boots on the ground grassroots aspect of Rotary’s network is what drives the political and social will in these countries to make polio eradication a priority. And that’s what you really need. You can telescope it up globally on a cause like polio, or you could telescope it down into your state or city and think about how you can mobilize the grassroots against the cause.
Denver: The second practice you cite was to sharpen your 10-10-10-20 = 50 vision, which I dare say was quite eye-opening for me. And you really captured this by describing what the LGBT community did. Share that with us.
Leslie: Certainly, the 10-10-10-20 = 50 vision is a tongue twister. It actually comes straight out of the playbook of the marriage equality movement and the LGBT activism to have same-sex marriage recognized in this country. The origins really have a story behind them. It happened right here in the New York vicinity where we’re speaking. In 2005 the leaders of the marriage equality movement gathered in a conference room in Jersey City, New Jersey. They’d been brought together at the invitation of Tim Gill, a mega-donor involved with this cause.
At this moment in time, the LGBT marriage equality movement did not look like success was going to be inevitable. It actually looked impossible. You had DOMA, President Clinton had signed a law defining marriages only between a man and a woman. Thirteen states had ballot referendums underway to ban gay marriage. Many other states already had laws in place. The only place where it was legal for a gay person to marry was Massachusetts, but even in Massachusetts, there was a vociferous opposition underway with Mitt Romney, leaders of the Catholic Church organizing to try and repeal the marriage law that had been put in place.
So, the movement was on the rocks. In desperation, the leaders were meeting Evan Wolfson from Freedom to Marry; Mary Bonauto, a very famous lawyer in this movement; others, Matt Coles from ACLU. They said, Let’s just do a thought experiment. What if we broke down the country, and we said, let’s take 10 states and see if we could actually get full marriage in those states, and we’ll get 10 states and just go for civil unions, and another 10 states, let’s see if we can even just get domestic relationship recognition laws in place. These things are separate and unequal, but they’re better than what we’ve got. Then in the balance of the states, 20 or more, let’s just try and get the discriminatory laws off the books.
So, the idea was if you could get each state to take one incremental step forward from wherever it was starting from, you would get this groundswell of momentum behind and support for marriage equality. That’s what they did. After that meeting, they divided up the country, and each part of the movement could sort of work on what they wanted to work on in those states. Ultimately, they succeeded.
Denver: This is the beauty of the Tenth Amendment.
Leslie: In fact, we hear a lot about the First Amendment these days and have seen students exercising their right to protest in support of tighter gun laws. And of course we hear a lot about the Second Amendment these days as well. But it really is the Tenth Amendment that defines which way the policy pendulum will swing. Movements that figure out; the Tenth Amendment is, of course, the one that grants the majority of rights to the states and reserves a very small amount of federal power. If you recognize that, and you drive your movement to achieve change at the state and local levels first, you’re much more likely to win.
The other thing is, think about it, for as successful as the gun rights movement has been in the last several decades, have you ever seen a big gun rights march on Washington? They don’t do it. They don’t march in the capital. They go to the state capitals. They go to the city. They go to the municipal level. They know where the power lies, and they’re very savvy at putting pressure where it will actually make a difference.
We can get meetings with representatives, but it’s actually changing hearts, minds, opinions, attitudes, behaviors that goes hand in hand with changing policies.
Denver: Your third practice is Change Hearts and Policy with a lot of emphasis on that word “and”. These are not mutually exclusive. Tell us how they work together.
Leslie: The reason why we framed “hearts and policy” together is by default, many movements are resource constrained. You don’t have a lot of money. You don’t have a lot of time. Let’s just try and go for these policy changes. We’ll open an office in DC; we’ll lobby. We can get meetings with representatives, but it’s actually changing hearts, minds, opinions, attitudes, behaviors that goes hand in hand with changing policies. So that when the laws change, people believe that those laws are the right way to go.
The other thing is when movements are focused on changing people’s views and opinions about an issue, you’ve got to come at it head on. Let’s take for instance out of the Tobacco Control Movement: No other modern movement has saved more lives or prevented more disease and suffering than the Tobacco Control Movement. What they came up against was the realization that while they could put taxes on cigarettes, and try and depress the buying and use of cigarettes that way, they realized that the ultimate opposition here wasn’t just Philip Morris and the tobacco companies. It was Marlboro Man, Joe Camel. There’s a stat that at one point, Joe Camel name recognition was greater than Santa Claus in some poor children’s communities. It’s very frightening. They realized they’re up against these iconic brands, Marlboro Man, Joe Camel, and their beloved people identify themselves by what they smoked.
The smoking was ubiquitous. It was frequent. It was fashionable. It was in the movies. It was in the magazines. Even at hospitals. You all can remember doctors and nurses smoking. You just have to watch one episode of Mad Men to recall how ubiquitous smoking was. Tobacco control realized we’ve got to make smoking as uncool as the spin masters out of Madison Avenue working for the tobacco companies were making it “cool” . So, that’s what they did. Some of the most effective campaigns out of the Tobacco Control Movement are from the Truth Initiative. These were targeted at young people, originally at Gen X, who a couple of decades ago were the Millennials of their era, or I should say, our era being a Gen X-er myself.
Tobacco control advocates were very keen and savvy. They said: What defines the Gen X psyche? Well, we’re slackers. We’re apathetic. We don’t care. It was grunge. It was Seattle, right at that time. They said, Okay. If you want to appeal to Gen X-ers, you’ve got to get into that rebellious spirit. So, the ads and the media campaigns at that time were all targeted around corporate leaders, and the tobacco industry are these guys in suits, and they’re trying to manipulate you and hook you into smoking. So, if you really want to be rebellious, rebel against “the man,” and don’t smoke. That worked. There’s a lot of evidence out of the first campaigns in Florida that showed attitudes and opinions really shifting among young people around smoking.
Today, the Truth Initiative has done research into Millennials and Next Gen young people, and they are less rebellious for rebellion’s sake; more about, they really care about social justice. So, you’ll see ads this year around the Super Bowl, about racial profiling, and why cigarette companies are putting in menthol and promoting that. Of all of the African Americans that continue to smoke, the majority choose menthol. So, it’s a very targeted and frankly racist approach. How do you tackle it that way? Or you have on YouTube Catmageddon, those silly cat videos that have gone viral. It’s a great video. The punchline is: if you smoke, second hand smoke can kill your pets, no pets, no stupid cat videos. It got right at what tweens care about which is their pets and watching silly pet videos on YouTube. The beauty of it is, it didn’t say, Don’t smoke. It wasn’t one of these boring traditional PSAs saying, Smoking’s bad for you. It was savvy and modern and clever, and it works. That’s the most important thing.
Whether your cause is winning triumphant or struggling to succeed, every cause and every movement has internecine warfare. You’ve got internal strife. You’ve got nonprofits and individuals fighting over money, credit, power, authority. Who gets to be the one to open up the speeches on the protest march? Who is going to testify before Congress?
The stakes are high in all these movements. There’s no secret sauce. There’s no recipe that will show you the five action steps to overcome strife in your movement.
Denver: Fourth is Reckon with Adversarial Allies. I find this to be such well-grounded advice and a reality check because people and organizations working on the same cause are not always pulling in the same direction. Tell us about that.
Leslie: Whether your cause is winning triumphant or struggling to succeed, every cause and every movement has internecine warfare. You’ve got internal strife. You’ve got nonprofits and individuals fighting over money, credit, power, authority. Who gets to be the one to open up the speeches on the protest march? Who is going to testify before Congress? I heard stories and different movements winning and losing… of big guerillas in the field calling major donors and telling them to pull the grant of the other organization. Just really crazy stuff.
The stakes are high in all these movements. There’s no secret sauce. There’s no recipe that will show you the five action steps to overcome strife in your movement. I think what we found was that winning movements like marriage equality, like tobacco control, even gun rights, were able to find enough common ground among their disparate members to move forward.
Going back to the idea of the 10-10-10-20 = 50 strategy, that actually turned out to be a beautiful way to overcome some of the internal strife in the LGBT marriage equality movement. Going back to that meeting in Jersey City, New Jersey in 2005, one of the reasons the movement was on the ropes was they were all in conflict with each other. There was a camp of LGBT advocates that wanted to go for full marriage. There was another camp that said: Why do we even want marriage? Why do we want to be like straight people? It’s too traditional. It’s too mainstream. We need to go our own way. We’re queer. Then there was a camp that said, Why are we trying to go for marriage? I just want to have my partner recognized so that I can visit them in the hospital if they’re sick.
So you had this extreme diversity of opinions from far left to far right and everything in between. The beauty of having that 10-10-10-20 strategy was if you wanted just to get discriminatory laws off the books, go for it. If you want to go for full marriage, go for that. It gave everybody an ability to do what they thought was right, all generally pulling in the same direction but not necessarily having to sing the exact same tune. They were in harmony, but not all singing the melody, if that makes sense.
Denver: It does. The classic big 10 is what they were able to create. The fifth practice is Break from Business as Usual. This addresses the role that business–that is sometimes is looked upon as being adversarial– but they have really played an important role in some of these successful movements. Tell us about a few of them.
Leslie: Certainly, the counter-intuitive role in business is one of the big Ahas that came out of our research. We came in with the frame that many people hold, which is activists digging in their heels and protesting corporate wrongdoing, and certainly that was the case in the tobacco control and the tobacco wars over the last several decades. In most of the movements, we started to say, What role did business play if you didn’t have a powerful industry opponent?
For instance with gay marriage, there was no entrenched economic interest that stood to lose ground if society granted this right. We saw business actually being a playing field for these changes to take place. So, for instance with LGBT marriage, one of the dedicated strategies early on was in the state of California. Advocates from ACLU and other organizations were working to get relationship recognition laws, getting companies to recognize same-sex partners on their benefit rolls. LGBT affinity groups within big corporations, entertainment, finance, tech industry players out in California were advocating from the inside. So that by the time the state of California was voting to reinstate gay marriage… (Of course California had allowed gay marriage; then they had a backlash; then they banned it, and then they were voting whether or not to reinstate it.) At that point, 80% of people working in California already received benefits if they so desired. The norm had shifted in California because the businesses had changed their corporate policies. That led to these larger norm shifts. The default was:” Sure, we recognize same-sex partners. That’s what we do!” rather than that being a fringe or minority part of business.
We saw in every movement, the businesses playing a role. Now, of course you’re seeing it more and more in this post-Parkland era after the shooting tragedy in Parkland, Florida. Pretty soon after that, you saw big businesses like Walmart, Dicks Sporting Goods dropping assault weapon sales from their shelves, raising the age voluntarily at which young people could purchase a gun. Bank of America announcing it was no longer lending to companies that manufacture firearms. So these are really big, bold steps. They have repercussions.
If you go back to the Tobacco Control Movement. A few years ago CVS Health elected to stop selling cigarettes, and it was embracing its shared value vision of becoming a health and wellness and beauty company. Instead of selling cigarettes and chew and all the stuff that comes along with it, they were moving into specialty pharmaceuticals, Minute Clinics, and all these things.
When they stopped selling cigarettes, they lost $2 billion in sales. It was a big hit. Now they have bounced back and actually more than made up for that revenue by focusing on the wellness side of the business. Did not come without a cost. And a lot of times I’ll be asked: What should corporate leaders do? Should they weigh in on these things? I think the best advice to whether you’re in a corporate foundation or a strategy group, and you’re thinking about how to engage with movements is to think about: Does this fit in with the larger vision that you have for a company, and where are you trying to go? If you’re trying to embrace shared societal environmental economic value, and it fits in with the narrative that you’re already building, then it’s probably worth doing. If not, it’s going to come across as inauthentic, and potentially you’ll get backlash.
…businesses become really hyper-exposed to media and consumer glare because of the advent of technologies, new media. Now in a single tweet, an individual can influence millions… Companies find themselves in the crosshairs very easily when they’re doing stuff wrong.
Leslie: There are a couple of other ways that were interesting insights into how businesses contributed to advancing or sometimes thwarting movements. Certainly, companies also played a role as advocates and educators. When it came time for the Supreme Court to hear arguments about the gay marriage case… At that point, hundreds of companies were signing on to Friends of the Court briefing. These were, everything from ConAgra, to Xerox and everything in between. Not just elite, liberal coastal companies, but heartland America companies too because they knew that was something their employees wanted, customers wanted, and often businesses are the bellwether, and it takes a while for public policy to catch up.
Whereas, it’s counter-intuitive because you think of business as being conservative and sluggish and the last to come on board. Another way we saw business engage in movements was certainly doing what they do best, which is making products and making a profit. So commercial technologies, Nicorette Gum, 800-QUIT lines. These also contribute to the abandonment of smoking. They’re certainly not a silver bullet, but it’s part of the mix. Then last, but not least, the other big trend that happened during this era that we’re looking at really at the turn of the 21st century is the way the businesses become really hyper-exposed to media and consumer glare because of the advent of technologies, new media. Now in a single tweet, an individual can influence millions, and you saw this for instance when in the gun control debate when a conservative pundit, Laura Ingraham criticized David Hogg, one of the students from Parkland about something, and he implored her advertisers to abandon her, and they dropped her like a hot potato. That is the power of the internet equalizing and democratizing things. This all started just the last few decades.
You also have all these extreme activists like Greenpeace volunteers started skydiving off smoke stacks and commandeering whaling ships, and these actions on the front line of a company’s operations was different than a picket line around the sidewalk around the headquarters. This was media friendly; great content made great video. Companies find themselves in the crosshairs very easily when they’re doing stuff wrong. So, there’s more impetus I think today to try and get on the right side of many of these causes.
…leaderful movements really put the people with the lived experience of the problem front and center. Whether you’re a victim or a survivor of a drunk driving crash, or any of the issues that we’re talking about; those people that have that lived experience are the best and most passionate and articulate spokespeople. Pushing that credit/ authority/ limelight out builds momentum, and it also keeps you from getting suffocated from the top down.
Denver: The sixth and final practice is to be leaderful. This is a little bit like the porridge in Goldilocks and the three bears, at least it was to me. Not too hot, not too cold, but just right. How is being leaderful… just right?
Leslie: Movements that are leaderful operate between two extremes. On the one hand, on the far left, you have movements that are leaderless. They’re chaotic. There’s anarchy. There’s no clear leadership. Remember Occupy Wall Street? You had all of this protest and activism and the call for the 99%. They purposely had a leaderless structure. It was purely democratic. No hierarchy. They had dozens of different demands. And what happened, it got a lot of attention and flared bright and then fizzled.
On the other extreme, you can have movements that are too leader-led– top down, controlled by the elite institutions, often out of Washington DC. Leader-led movements tend to hoard power. They hoard credit. They’re not pushing authority, responsibility and limelight out to the grassroots and the chapters at the state and local level. They’re keeping it to themselves. What you want to find is a balance between those two, where your base of power is still coming from the grassroots, but the grass tops is really providing direction rather than command. And I think of it as the leaderful movements have leaders who really are playing the role of the conductor of an orchestra, trying to get all of the different actors out there to play in tune, rather than the commander of a military unit or a traditional CEO.
Denver: Mothers Against Drunk Driving would be a good example of that, correct?
Leslie: Mothers Against Drunk Driving is a great example. In fact there’s a terrific quote from Candy Lightner, the founder of MADD who says, as she was starting all these chapters… and the organization was growing like wildfire across the country, her advice to any movement leader and advocate is this: Never open an office in Washington DC. MADD started out in California. Then they moved their headquarters to Texas where they still are. But the power has always been out across the land with local and state organizations.
The other thing is, leaderful movements really put the people with the lived experience of the problem front and center. Whether you’re a victim or a survivor of a drunk driving crash, or any of the issues that we’re talking about; those people that have that lived experience are the best and most passionate and articulate spokespeople. Pushing that credit/ authority/ limelight out builds momentum, and it also keeps you from getting suffocated from the top down.
There’s something today about the power of collective action, individuals who individually are pretty powerless, and only by linking arms and together commonly advocating on a purpose do you see the balance of power shifting.
Denver: Were you surprised, Leslie, by anything you found… or perhaps more to the point, things that you did not find as being critical to a successful social movement?
Leslie: One frame that we used while doing the research was traditional social movement theory. A lot’s been written about civil rights era movements, scholars coming out of the ‘60s and ‘70s. There’s also a lot of great social movement scholarship that’s come out since then. The mental model that we hold is contentious collective action, right. It’s protest. It’s demonstrations. It’s angry mobs of activists. Sometimes contentious protest was part of movements that we studied. A lot of times it wasn’t. The movement to eradicate polio certainly has been arduous. It has required enormous resources, efforts and sacrifice but it hasn’t involved protest, and the nature of that issue doesn’t necessarily lend itself to that. That was one thing.
The other thing, I think the timing of this book has been really fortuitous. We started writing it in 2014… long before the populist movement that resulted in the election of Donald Trump. I believe that in many ways that populist movement and Trump’s ascension to power has been the anvil upon which many of today’s movements are being forged. When you look at #MeToo, what’s coming out of Parkland and #NeverAgain; the teachers that are out protesting, not for their own pay raises but for raises for all the kids that they teach.
The gymnasts that are banding together against that pedophile coach that was preying on them for years. There’s something today about the power of collective action, individuals who individually are pretty powerless, and only by linking arms and together commonly advocating on a purpose do you see the balance of power shifting. I think a real bellwether of that is the Fortune Magazine rankings are out this month; the 50 greatest world leaders list. For the first time since Fortune’s done those rankings, it’s not a CEO at the top, or a president of a country. It’s the students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. The number three slot is #MeToo. There’s movements sprinkled across that. That shows just how important collective leadership models have become in this day and age.
Denver: One thing we haven’t discussed, Leslie, is money and the role that it plays in social movements. What did you find out about that?
Leslie: We looked at money and the role of money, but it’s not a chapter in the book, and we don’t really get much into it because it’s one of these things that all movements need to have some; a lot is helpful. But it’s necessary. Money is necessary to succeed, but it’s not sufficient to explain why some movements succeed and others didn’t. Let me give you an example. If you just look at tobacco control and gun control, with tobacco, despite the fact that tobacco companies dwarf the gun industry in annual sales; the tobacco industry was so much more powerful than the gun manufacturers. Tobacco-growing states had relationships with all the politicians representing those states. They employed most of the ad firms here on Madison Avenue. They employed lobbying firms. So they had a lot of power, connections, cache, but the tobacco control activists were able to overcome.
The reverse is happening in the gun issue. You do have wealthy gun manufacturers. Some are going out of business, but many stocks continue to rise every time there’s one of these shootings, the stock goes up. In this case, the gun control activists have not prevailed. It’s because the gun manufacturers have a gun rights movement on their side, and that explains why in that case, it’s winning.
We also looked at the role of private philanthropy. Certainly, the concentrated funding in the LGBT marriage equality movement, Tim Gill and other mega-donors concentrating on: how do you advance this larger campaign rather than just trying to fund individual nonprofits helped. In the tobacco control wars, it cannot be underscored how important it was that Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the largest health foundation in this country and probably in the world, exclusively focused on public health.
Poured three-quarters of a billion dollars into the Tobacco Control Movement over 10 years, and that gave the tobacco control activists the fodder that they needed to fight fire with fire. To do these ads and to fight Marlboro Man and Joe Camel. It’s expensive, and you also had to have funders who realized that it’s not just about policy change. You’ve got to mark it and do social norms change.
The other thing is when you look at the breakdown of how Robert Wood Johnson Foundation spread its money, a good amount went to the campaign for Tobacco For Kids, the National Advocacy Group which was really a coalition of American Heart, Cancer, Lung, other groups, and their membership bases. The most money went to the smokeless states coalition. Hundreds of millions of dollars into state and local small coalitions that were passing these state excise taxes and doing things at the state and local levels where they could undercut the tobacco industry, because at the local level, tobacco control activists had more power, whereas, the tobacco lobby and the industry leaders had power up on Capitol Hill. But that’s not ultimately, again, we go back to where change happens. So you’ve got to have some money, but it’s not the end all and be all.
…the leaders of these movements, while they were leaderful, they also were just everyday people. The drunk driving movement, founded by Candy Lightner, was created by somebody who was a real estate agent and a mom of two kids. Many of the leaders of these movements, their backgrounds would not portend that they would go on to have so much impact in society. Some were lobbyists and politicians and had some skills in that area and training, but most weren’t.
Denver: In gathering all this research and interviewing countless people, were you able to identify some essential truths about how change happens?
Leslie: A few fundamental truths really crystalized for me and my team. I’ve worked very closely with Bill Novelli, the founder of the Global Social Enterprise Initiative which I worked at at Georgetown in the business school. Bill was the founding president of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. He was CEO of AARP. He founded Porter Novelli, the global communications firm, so he’s had a lot of experience on the ground, and I spent several years studying this stuff.
And we came to three conclusions: First, change is possible. Even in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds and powerful industry opponents, you see movements winning, and you also see movements not winning. But the point being that it’s possible to change things, especially in this day and age.
The second insight is that change is non-partisan. With the gun rights movement success, you’ve got Tea Party libertarians,/conservatives winning the day. But another cause like LGBT marriage, tobacco control… liberals, progressives– they’re winning. It’s not one party or even faith that rules at the end of the day. God doesn’t appear to be on any one side of these causes, and if multiple gods were involved, there clearly is not consensus.
The third point is this. Change is deliberate. At the end of the day, social change making is an act of leadership. These changes did not happen by chance. Smoking did not go out of fashion. We didn’t just grant marriage equality to LGBT community members because it seemed like the right thing to do. And gun rights have not become so expanded and gun laws so lenient in the US by chance. These were deliberate acts of well-led, well-organized movements.
The other point that was fascinating is, the leaders of these movements, while they were leaderful, they also were just everyday people. The drunk driving movement, founded by Candy Lightner, was created by somebody who was a real estate agent and a mom of two kids. Many of the leaders of these movements, their backgrounds would not portend that they would go on to have so much impact in society. Some were lobbyists and politicians and had some skills in that area and training, but most weren’t. It belies the fact that truly anyone can lead if you have the gumption and the passion and the relentless pursuit of impact. It’s not preordained who’s going to lead these things.
Denver: We as individuals can really make a difference. Leslie Crutchfield, the author of How Change Happens: Why Some Social Movements Succeed While Others Don’t, I want to thank you so much for being here this evening. The book has a website, correct? Tell us about it, what’s on it, and where people can go and get the book.
Leslie: Howchangehappens.com. It’s got all the good media and commentary that we’ve done. Where to buy the book? Really anywhere books are sold, you can get the book. The idea s in it really are to help any individual, whether you lead a nonprofit, whether you just donate to a movement, whether you are a target of a movement, we hope that these ideas can help you advance your cause.
Denver: I bought it, I read it, and I got an awful lot out of it. Thanks, Leslie. It was a real pleasure to have you on the show.
Leslie: Thank you for having me.
Denver: I’ll be back with more of The Business of Giving right after this.
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