ORS Impact News

The ORS Impact team has earned a global reputation for leadership, insight and innovation. We work collaboratively with our clients, bringing our distinctive expertise in planning, measurement and evaluation to their most vexing challenges.

New Report: Not Always Movements

In recent years, we’ve noticed increasing use of the term ‘movement’ to describe a wide variety of social change efforts—often ones that don’t actually have the characteristics or aims of a movement.


Our new brief, Not Always Movements: Multiple Approaches to Advance Large-Scale Social Change, aims to help funders, evaluators, and other social change agents be crisper and more accurate in how they talk about and understand different approaches to advancing large-scale social change, and to avoid the harms that can arise from misuse of movement terminology.

In the brief, we compare and contrast the underlying assumptions, theories of change, and outcomes of three distinct social change approaches that are often conflated with movements: field building, network development, and promoting the uptake of practices by large numbers of organizations.

There are many ways to work toward the visions of change that exist in the social sector, and different actors bring different resources, values, strengths, and perspectives about how best to address current challenges and inequities. All of these are important. We hope this brief will help to broaden the conversation around these different approaches to social change, to spur new learning and innovation in this space.

Read the brief - Not Always Movements: Multiple Approaches to Advance Large-Scale Social Change

In separate companion pieces, we go deeper into each of the three approaches, outlining some key theories and frameworks, outcomes to look for, considerations regarding equity, and guidance on measurement and learning along the way:

  1. Building a Field
  2. Developing and Supporting a Network
  3. Promoting Uptake of Practices

These are intended to provide an overview of these approaches for those who are interested or engaged in this work, with suggestions on how to dig in further.

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