Conclusion: Your Impact as an Activist

As an activist, you possess enormous potential and power to create a more equitable and sustainable world. Taking up effective activism makes you a leader in your community. You will now produce ripple effects around you just from being a dedicated activist.


Everyone you interact with, especially your friends and family, will now be more likely to participate in civic and political action themselves.[1] As a knowledgeable activist, you will support those in your social network to participate more in politics and feel more confident in their political views.[2]


The conversations you have with others about politics and activism—especially now that you know to use compassionate, values-based conversations to more effectively communicate with others—will make all of your friends, family, and housemates more likely to engage in civic and political participation. [3] A few studies have shown that the conversations people have about campaigns can be more impactful than the direct effects of the campaigns themselves, so you will serve as an amplifier for progressive social change efforts.[4]


If you interact with children, especially by working with a youth organizing group, your mentorship and support will be helping to raise the next generation of activists who will be more likely to take a stand and fight for community change.[5]


Simply asking people to join you when you go to protests will dramatically increase the chances that those around you will attend.[6] And every time you attend a protest, you are helping to increase the chances that a social movement will succeed in securing social change.[7]


If you live with others, your housemates will become more likely to vote once you decide to vote.[8] Posting that you voted on Facebook will lead to your friends being more likely to vote themselves.[9] You may even start a “turnout cascade” and lead dozens of others to vote.[10]


By confronting oppression and harassment with effective and compassionate methods, you will reduce the prejudice levels of everyone in the room and make it more likely that other people will go on to confront oppression themselves.[11] If you make a commitment to standing up against bullying, harassment, and violence, you can markedly reduce oppression in your school or workplace.[12]


If you have a college degree, you are likely in the top 1% of global income.[13] Donating a small percentage of your income every year to the most effective charities can save many lives throughout your career.


You are following in the footsteps of the hundreds of thousands of activists before you who have reduced bullying, oppression, and violence in their schools and workplaces; secured rights and freedoms for marginalized groups; protected the forests and rivers of our planet; saved millions of innocent animals from a torturous and painful existence; empowered youth to stand up for social justice in their communities; and formed cooperatives to provide affordable housing, food, and services to those in need. Generations of activists are handing the torch down to you. Thanks to progressive activists, scientists, and researchers, you now possess the tools to effectively combat violence, oppression, and harm and fight for justice, equality, freedom, and sustainability.


We’d like to end with a metaphor for social change we once heard from a fellow activist. He said that as that as activists, we’re all in different boats, heading for the same horizon—a world where we can all live freely without violence or repression, a world where we can coexist with our earth, a world where life and love and care are what’s valued and cherished. The goal isn’t to get everyone into the same boat. We could never build a vessel big enough to contain us all, and we don’t have any more time to waste at the harbor. But we also shouldn’t use that an excuse to grab the nearest piece of driftwood and dive headfirst into the water, hoping for the best. We need to be practical and realistic, stocking our boats with supplies, moving swiftly through calm waters, and finding safety when rough waves hit. We need to guard our fellow horizon-seekers from harm, and while we may not agree with how they steer their ship, we certainly don’t want to sink us all in an egotistical quest to prove whose boats are best. So onward we sail, with no guarantee of ever reaching that horizon, but ever hoping—knowing—that our children will sail farther than we could, and that someday our ancestors will land on the shores of a better future.


Hundreds of scientific studies from all over the world examining social movements dating back centuries have proven, without a doubt, that you can change the world. Now go out and do it.





Thank you for your work in making the world a better place.


We’d love to hear how your efforts are going so we can know which strategies are working on-the-ground and how to better help activists in their journeys towards progressive change. Please  contact us  to share what’s worked, what didn’t work, and how the guide has shaped your activism.


[1] Andolina, Jenkins, Zukin, and Keeter 2003; Bond, Fariss, Jones, Kramer, Marlow, Settle, and Fowler 2012; Boulay, Storey, and Sood 2010; Granzin and Olsen 1991; McAdam 1986; Oegema and Klandermans 1994; Paluck 2011; Paluck, Shepherd, and Aronow 2016; Rogers, Goldstein, and Fox 2018; Wellman, Czopp, and Geers 2009;

[2] McClurg 2006

[3] Andolina, Jenkins, Zukin, and Keeter 2003; Boulay, Storey, and Sood 2010; Klofstad 2011; McClurg 2006; McLeod, Scheufele, and Moy 1999; Roser-Renouf, Maibach, Leiserowitz, and Zhao 2014; Zhang, Johnson, Seltzer, and Bichard 2009

[4] Boulay, Storey, and Sood 2010

[5] Bloemraad and Terriquez 2016; Terriquez 2015; Terriquez 2017; Terriquez and Kwon 2014

[6] McAdam and Paulson 1993; Oegema and Klandermans 1994; Schussman and Soule 2005; Somma 2009

[7] Agone 2007; Biggs and Andrews 2015; Cress and Snow 2000; Gamson 1990; Gillion 2012; Giugni 2007; Johnson, Agone, and McCarthy 2010; King, Bentele, and Soule 2007; Minkoff 1997; Olzak and Soule 2009; Wasow 2017

[8] Bhatti, Dahlgaard, Hansen, and Hansen 2017; Nickerson 2008

[9] Bond, Fariss, Jones, Kramer, Marlow, Settle, and Fowler 2012

[10] Fowler 2005

[11] Blanchard, Crandall, Brigham, and Vaughn 1994; Czopp, Monteith, and Mark 2006; Forcella, Bean, and Stone 2015; Hillard 2011; Mallett and Wagner 2011; Son Hing, Li, and Zanna 2002; Stone, Whitehead, Schmader, and Focella 2011

[12] Paluck, Shepherd, and Aronow 2016

[13] Calculated using Giving What We Can’s “How Rich Am I?” calculator, available at:


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