Some movements soar while others stagnate. Why do some changes take hold while others don’t?

How Change Happens explains why some of the most significant 21st century shifts happened. By studying the movements behind many important causes—from LGBT marriage equality and tobacco control, to gun rights expansion, acid rain reduction and more, author Leslie Crutchfield explores how society came to celebrate gay weddings and ban smoking in public, and at the same time allow guns to be carried in most U.S. states, and friends won’t let each other drive drunk. The answer to why some movements succeed while others don’t is not what you think.

Media Highlights:

How Change Happens”… recently reviewed by The New York Review of Books, serves as a blueprint for today’s movement leaders inspired to take action following Trump’s election.  The New York Review of Books 

To the Contrary, PBS
The Final Five, Fox DC

Business for Impact’s National Movements Forum Trailer

“Millennials and next-gen activists care deeply about social justice. This book arms us with proven tools and fresh ideas to build leaderful grassroots movements, building on the work of Ella Baker and other great civil rights leaders of the generations who fought before us and paved the way….” – Zach Norris, Executive Director, Ella Baker Center on Human Rights

“Leslie Crutchfield is one of the most incisive and impactful thinkers in the social sectors … with a distinctive flair for bringing forth practical answers to audacious questions. Now, Crutchfield deploys her intellect, insight, and wisdom to address one of the most fascinating questions of our young century.”   – Jim Collins, author, Good to Great and Good to Great and the Social Sectors, co-author, Built to Last

This is an important book, and it comes at an important time. There’s no real recipe for social change, no ‘movement in a box’ that we can put in place to create a more equitable, just society. But Crutchfield … shows us how we can make change happen.”
– Bill Novelli, founding President and current Board Chair, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids

“Winning Movements made their destinies come true, rather than being destined to succeed.”

– How Change Happens

Some changes take hold, while others don’t. What drives today’s successful social and environmental change campaigns? Why do some movements soar while others stagnate? How Change Happens explores the leadership approaches, campaign strategies, and ground-level tactics used in a range of modern change campaigns. By examining movements from the 1980s that have succeeded in spectacular fashion—from tobacco control and gun rights expansion, to LGBT marriage equality and acid rain reduction among others—author Leslie Crutchfield demonstrates why and how these movements reached their goals. The book also explores why other recent campaigns haven’t made as much headway, like Occupy Wall Street, carbon emissions control, and gun violence prevention. And she delves into the implications for newly emerging movements, like #MeToo/Time’s Up, Black Lives Matter, the Fight for $15 minimum wage campaign and more.

Written by Leslie Crutchfield—an authority on social innovation—with the help of a team from Georgetown University’s Business for Impact at the McDonough School of Business, the book draws on the histories of many modern movements and includes interviews with campaign leaders, members, and supporters — as well as opponents. Crutchfield examines the unique contexts that underpin each cause and takes into account all the relevant factors that contribute to the success or failure of a movement.

It turns out that winning movements and also-rans alike started out with a mixed bag of advantages, disadvantages, as well as neutral factors. It’s what they did with it that matters. The success of winning movements hinged on the strategic choices leaders made, and how they got their movement’s many moving parts to align in order to advance a common cause – despite odds set heavily against them. In short, winning movements made their destinies come true, rather than being destined to succeed.

By comparing successful social change campaigns to those that falter, How Change Happens contains the powerful lessons that change makers can deploy if they are to impact society and the planet for the better in the years to come.

Support for the research was provided by Bank of America Foundation, Georgetown University, Glikbarg Family Foundation, Microsoft Philanthropies, UN Foundation, and an anonymous donor through the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.


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