Considerations for getting started

Considerations for getting started

To get started building momentum, including widening your influence and building a critical mass of engaged supporters, you and your change team can consider the following strategies:

Strategies to build momentum
  • Focus on social connections among individuals, groups, and/or organizations. Where possible, seek face-to-face interactions to maintain social ties. Existing networks, where available and applicable, can be used to support connectivity and widen the circle of engagement.
  • Be inclusive and outward-facing to encourage and welcome new change agents as this will help to build the necessary critical mass.
  • Aim for small wins as they can build momentum. Communicate these wins using narratives or storytelling to gain attention and visibility, and emphasize that the wins reflect progress and success due to the efforts and energy of change agents.
  • Be responsive to questions and concerns raised by new potential supporters and others to clarify the shared concern or desired change and the goals of the social movement. Discuss barriers if goals have not been met and/or additional resources that are needed. Ensure there is clear communication regarding roles and expectations.
  • Use all opportunities to learn and spread knowledge uptake and best practices.
  • Engage champions and other change agents to share optimism about the change. Believe in the change and in the possibility of doing things differently and applying social movement actions. Actively support champions as advocates for the change, and encourage them to communicate the sense of urgency for the shared concern or desired change and the need for action.
  • Use motivation to keep forward momentum. At each planning meeting, take time to highlight goals and what has been accomplished to date.

SOURCES: Arnold et al., 2018; Bibby et al., 2009; Dementia Action Alliance, 2009.


Accelerate Your Success: The Knowledge-to-Action Framework’s Identify the problemaction cycle phase includes strategies for how to develop SMART (specific, measurable, attainable or assignable, relevant or realistic, and time-bound) objectives for change teams to be able to track and measure progress and achievements. The development of SMART objectives in social movements can also support momentum. 

Strategies to widen your influence and build a critical mass

In the early phases of a social movement, it is common for only a small number of change agents to be involved. However, in order for a social movement to grow and reach a critical mass, others must support the vision and goals and be willing to participate. To increase the number of supporters and widen the influence and uptake of the social movement,  the following strategies can be considered:

  • Be open to trying multiple and diverse types of individual and collective action to raise the profile of the social movement.
  • Develop effective messages to attract and recruit more people. Use framing to target the specific interests and motivations of the stakeholders.
  • Use resources and assets creatively to attract interest and widen your reach.
  • Coordinate your activities with those within and beyond the social movement, leveraging the focus of the social movement with other goals, where applicable.