How to Tap Social Changemakers in Your Community

In your community, the social changemakers—those who are civically engaged, give back to the community, and are deeply immersed in local issues—are often the movers and shakers. They are powerful influencers for your philanthropy, nonprofit or purpose-driven brand because they are well-connected and know how to effect change in the issues you care about.

Engaging these social changemakers in your community can yield long lasting results. They may help you reach new audiences, offer guidance on how to build local movements, or connect you to industry leaders.

We make it a point at Prichard to constantly connect with social changemakers in our community. Knowing these leaders makes us better communicators for social change because they keep us in-the-know about emerging issues in Portland and help us learn how they pave the way.

Here are three ways you can replicate these lessons and build lasting relationships with social changemakers in your own community.

Bring Changemakers Together

Real change begins with real relationships. No matter how big or small your community, there is no better way to build relationships than quality time in-person.

We learned this firsthand through our dinner salon series, The Portland Ten. Prichard launched this dinner series with the intention of connecting Portland’s social changemaking community to strengthen individual and collective efforts to make our city better. After nine events and 90 attendees, we can measure its success—attendees have gone on to get new jobs because they were inspired to do more, forged new partnerships, and made relationships that resulted in a new grant or new funding for nonprofits.

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For-profit businesses, too, can coordinate gatherings to connect with changemakers who are doing great work in your industry areas. As a certified Benefit Corporation, Prichard is lucky enough to attend ongoing events from the local B Corp chapter that connect companies using business as a force for good in Portland. As more for-profit businesses aim to create positive social impact, convenings are helpful ways to connect social changemakers with business leaders who can support each other’s work.

If you’re interested in hosting your own gathering with social changemakers, check out our blog post with lessons learned from hosting The Portland Ten: The Nonprofit Dinner Salon: A Secret Sauce to Success.

Connect with Local News

Earning media coverage in local news outlets can also help you engage social changemakers.

A new Pew Research Center study finds that civically engaged individuals:

  • follow local news more closely,
  • regularly consume local news stories,
  • and have a positive attitude toward local news outlets.

Specifically, one-in-five U.S. adults (19%) who feel highly attached to their communities demonstrate much stronger ties to local news than those who do not feel attached.

Though this new research was based on a national study, the learning here can be applied across communities: Civically engaged residents are more engaged in local news, resources and opportunities—and these are great avenues to reach them.

Provide Useful Information, Resources and Opportunities

The best way to engage your audience of social changemakers is to know what they value and what challenges they experience. This will help you offer useful information, resources and opportunities that resonate with them.

You can begin uncovering this information through conversations that you have at in-person gatherings, or by conducting a few informational interviews with social changemakers in your community.

We see success with offering alumni of the Portland Ten unique and relevant opportunities that help them stay connected. When we receive free tickets to a local fundraising event, we extend these tickets to the Portland Ten group by sending them to a convenient group email that we continue to build on. Additionally, we created a LinkedIn Group for the Portland Ten where anyone can post opportunities or other content of interest. Doing so keeps these changemakers connected and talking to each other, paving the way for greater, collective, local impact.

How do you connect with social changemakers in your community? Share your tips in the comments below.

Jenna Cerruti

Account Director Jenna Cerruti leads Prichard's client work and manages Prichard's blog. Before Prichard, she spent several years working with for-profit, purpose-drive brands. When she is not developing strategic communications plans, brainstorming digital communications strategies or executing media relations for clients, she is on the hunt to find the best pizza in Portland, likely listening to her favorite diva, Beyonce, along the way.
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