how to start a movement
The Borgen Project movement has led millions of people to fight global poverty, but even we have trouble explaining how to start a movement. An idea is simply a thought or suggestion for a possible course of action. And lots of ideas are good ideas. Some of them are even great; maybe even great enough to change the world. But it’s hard for an idea to get very far on its own. To make a significant impact, an idea needs to become a movement. It needs to inspire others to rally behind it and push it forward. has taken the guess work out of launching your idea, with a “How-To” guide to start a movement for social change.

The site breaks the process down into 8 stages, each broken down even further into step-by-step instructions. Check out for an in-depth guide to launching your movement, and to learn more about each of the following 8 stages:


How to Start a Movement?


Stage 1 – Plan and Strategize.
A cause is much easier to get behind if supporters know exactly what they would be getting themselves into. It’s also much easier to solicit funding if necessary, when you have a well defined plan. At this stage of the game, organization is key; you’ll need to keep track of your members’ names and contact information, feedback and advice from members and non-members, a timeline of significant milestones, etc.

Stage 2 – Build Awareness.
You need to understand the people you’re trying to engage. Figure out the best ways to reach them: popular social networks, classrooms, parties, bulletin boards, etc. Once you’ve decided where your target audience is most likely to hear your pitch, you can deliver an authentic story about yourself and your campaign that explains who you are, what you’re trying to accomplish, and why they should be involved. A brief video that appeals to people’s emotions can go a long way, and a catchy slogan and logo are important, because they can keep your movement in someone’s mind.

Stage 3 – Mobilize.
Encourage action through petitions, pamphlets, radio advertisements, picketing, parades, assemblies, flash mobs etc.

Stage 4 – Stay Safe. has a collection of articles on a variety of safety topics, from protecting your online security to surfing the web anonymously. There are even instructions on how to use the “I’m getting arrested” app for Android to notify your family or lawyer that you are being detained, should you choose to practice civil disobedience or non-cooperation tactics in your mobilization efforts.

Stage 5 – Access Blocked Information.
If you are running into a wall in your search for information, there are a number of circumvention tools to get around web censorship, and has laid them out for you. Circumvention technology finds an unlocked back-door to censored information. Disclaimer: there may be legal repercussions for accessing information censored by your government; so consider the risks carefully before engaging any filtered sites.

Stage 6 – Collaborate.
Build a coalition, or a group of individuals or organizations working towards the same goal. Keep in mind that not every coalition needs to be formal; there are benefits to working with other organizations in a less publicized way. Whichever type of coalition you choose to build, realize that trust amongst members is invaluable.

Stage 7 – Fundraise.
Money can be raised via traditional routes such as hosting events or placing donation jars in local businesses. But you can also raise funds via digital routes such as Facebook or Text-To-Donate programs.

Stage 8 – Keep Supporters Engaged.
With the amount of content on the internet, it can be difficult to keep supporters engaged over time. Posting frequent blog posts or status updates with gripping headlines that promote your campaign is imperative. Don’t ever assume that you’re finished generating interest in the campaign. It’s up to you to always keep people interested in the movement you began; just remind them why they wanted to be involved in the first place. And while you’re at it, plan and strategize for your campaign, build awareness with new potential members, mobilize, stay safe, access blocked information, collaborate, fundraise…

To make a significant impact, an idea needs to become a movement. It needs to inspire others to rally behind it and push it forward. Starting a movement can be a never-ending cycle that just keeps turning. The good news is, if it’s something you’re truly passionate about, you won’t mind at all. And if you follow the steps on to create a successful movement, you may end up changing the world.

– Dana Johnson

Photo: Blyden Consulting
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History of The Borgen Project from THE BORGEN PROJECT on Vimeo.

The Borgen Project Movement
In 1999, while working as a young volunteer in refugee camps during the Kosovo War and genocide, Clint Borgen recognized the need for an organization that could focus U.S. political attention on extreme poverty. In 2003, after graduating from Washington State University and interning at the United Nations, Borgen began developing the organization.

In need of startup funding, Borgen took a job living on a fishing vessel docked in Dutch Harbor, Alaska (the same location as “The Deadliest Catch”). From humble beginnings in one of the most remote regions of the world, The Borgen Project was born. One man with a laptop and a budget that came from his Alaska paychecks has evolved into a national campaign with volunteers operating in 220 U.S. cities.