Modern Movements, #MindTheDigits

By Sam Stern

Sam Stern is CEO of MagnifyGood, a communications consultancy that magnifies the good of social sector programs by improving the value of their communications efforts 

Creating change

After the initial news of Harvey Weinstein’s longtime abusive practices spread across the globe, an innumerable amount of stories began piling up.

For almost two months, the headlines were overwhelmed by news of women speaking out against their abusers, who happened to be some of the entertainment industry’s most well-known and powerful men.

It took these women to inspire an online movement, sparked by newfound courage of more than 1.7 million women and men in 85 different countries, standing together voicing the same two words — #MeToo.

Throughout history, people-powered movements have been the true force for creating change. Within the last decade, the world has witnessed a rise in social movements and campaigns due to the exchanging of ideas through digital platforms.

The Internet has given us the space and tools to collaborate on ideas and spread messages at warp speed. Social media has created a hyperconnected society where we’re able to connect with others across the world based on our shared interests and beliefs.

Petitions, protests and marches are still ingrained in the social movements we create today, but the natural gathering of people no longer happens outdoors or in the streets. We’re digitally-wired, glued to our phones and computers — making the Internet our go-to gathering place.

Social media has given those who wish to create change a gift for mobilizing, allowing us to make connections and build movements with individuals across the globe. Engaging in “hashtag activism” undoubtedly creates impact — fueling dialogue and saturating headlines — but how do we turn this online activism into offline action?

Connecting others

Modern movements are digitally connected. We build our online communities through social media, and they work together to ignite massive movements that fuel emotional dialogue, policy change and life-changing fundraising.

Through the use of hashtags, we have the power to spread messages and connect with others across the world. While the news coming out of Hollywood continued to shock the world, women across the globe began building empowerment through empathy and bringing attention to the widespread issue of workplace sexual assault, sharing their experiences on social media with the hashtag #MeToo.

Men and women were empowered to speak out against their abusers, resulting in the denouncement of multiple high-profile individuals. What began solely as a hashtag ended up being a space for individuals to unite and connect based on shared passions and beliefs, resulting in both a digital and physical movement.

Defined leadership

Movements that are intended to create lasting change need a leader to guide the tribe. The greatest movements begin with a leader — or leaders — who is willing to nurture a connected community and inspire others to get involved with the cause. In an effort to shift the power of #MeToo offline and generate impact, a group of women in Hollywood formed the Times Up Coalition.

The Times Up Coalition was formed in response to the growing voices of women across various industries who had experienced sexual assault in the workplace. Through the Coalition, women and men can receive survivor support services, legal information and tools to combat assault. In addition, the TImes Up legal defense fund was created to propel a more inclusive conversation about workplace sexual assault — beyond Hollywood.

To date, the fund has provided legal and public relations services to more than 3,400 men and women. It took multiple women stepping forward to turn an unprecedented moment into institutionalized change. Movement leaders craft messages and calls-to-action that make others a part of our mission — as well as the solution — and create experiences that connect them to one another.


Not everyone is going to know how to turn passion into action. Without a call-to-action, movement supporters won’t know how they can make a difference. By presenting clear, meaningful and actionable calls-to-action, supporters know how to take action — and they know their actions will make a difference.

To promote inclusivity of women in Hollywood, the women of the Times Up Coalition challenged industry professionals to commit to the 4 percent challenge, which encourages working with more female directors.

But their call-to-action wasn’t simply “work with more female directors.” Their call-to-action was to “commit to working on a feature film with a female director in the next 18 months.” Not only did the Coalition receive commitment from numerous individuals in the industry, it received the support of some of the biggest production studios in the world like Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros and MGM Studios.

Leveraging the digits

We’ve seen tremendous change made across our world as a result of people coming together for good. History has continuously shown us that creating change stems from organized, mobilized and connected communities. But creating change takes a strategic, intentional approach.

The digital age and structural power of the Internet has given us the opportunity to create more connections and build stronger movements for good. By leveraging these tools, we can work together to solve and confront some of the world’s most pressing issues and make our world better — for everyone.

About Sam Stern

Sam works with CEOs, Donor Development and Communication leads of Social Sector Organization to build capacity for their organizations by using new communication tools and techniques to attract, nurture, convert and retain more donors.