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Movement Building Functions

The Noyes Foundation uses a theory of change that lifts up the strategic importance of social movements for achieving and sustaining our mission. Therefore, Noyes funds national and community-based organizations, as well as coalitions and networks engaged in building movements. Organizations engaged in movement building employ a variety of functions, which may change as the organizations and the movements mature. Most play multiple roles, usually stronger in some areas and weaker in others. To help clarify the roles Noyes grantees play in building social movements, the staff created Movement Building Functions, which we use to consider grantee performance across 14 discreet areas sub-divided into the four broad categories. The categories and functions of movement building we focus on are: 

Engaging Affected People

  • Working with an authentic grassroots constituency, typically targeting those most harmed by the status quo with the least power in decision-making about problems they face;
  • Expanding the base of people identified with the movement;
  • Deepening commitment and engagement through intentional leadership development;
  • Involving constituents in participatory decision-making processes, including the policies and priorities of the organization, as well as civic participation and movement level collaboration;
  • So that the organizations we support are accountable to their constituencies.

Exerting Strong Voices

  • Asserting a clear and compelling vision of what social change can achieve;
  •  Conveying an analysis that explains the root causes of environmentally unsustainable practices and social inequity;
  • Communicating strategically to constituents, allies, decision-makers and the general public.

Expanding Influence

  • Building clout to influence change by working in collaboration with other organizations, including unlikely allies;
  • Targeting a range of influence from local, to state and national levels and across communities of identity (e.g. the faith community, the labor movement etc.). 

Intervening for Systemic Change

  • Conducting participatory and grassroots-led research to reframe problems, and bring attention to issues of race, class and power not sufficiently recognized in the analysis put forward by public and private sector decision-makers, think tanks and the media;
  • Carrying out grassroots policy development that seeks to resolve the root causes of inequity in response to the real needs of constituents;
  • Enabling affected people to engage in advocacy on their own behalf.
  • Demonstrating the efficacy of new models through on-the-ground project implementation.