Equipping nonprofits to advance social change

Our History

How We Got Started

In 1999, twenty people working in small social change nonprofits from across the United States came together to examine the role of their organizations in the larger nonprofit sector, and how they could better build their capacity for change. These discussions led to the birth of the Building Movement Project, which lifts up the ways nonprofit organizations can have an impact on building larger movements for progressive social change.

What We Work On

At that first meeting, participants raised issues that continue to influence our work today.  They were concerned about how to build the vision, leadership, and capacity of organizations so they could contribute to building the momentum for change on the ground and in the systems which make it difficult to address the needs of the people they work with and serve. They talked about a range of issues- from generational differences in nonprofit leadership to the potential of service providers to engage constituents to advance social change. Participants at the meeting wanted someone to provide continued analysis on issues like these in the sector, as well as useful and innovative tools for nonprofits to use in order to do overcome them.  That is where the Building Movement Project steps in.

Where We Are and Where We Are Going

Originally housed at the Hauser Center for Nonprofits at Harvard, Building Movement moved to Demos in 2003.  We continue to operate with a small core staff and a Project Team who deeply inform the work we do and how we adapt to the current nonprofit landscape. While the issues raised in our original meeting still shape our main Focus Areas, we continue to adjust how we approach those themes as we move forward.  We understand the impact that the external environment has on how nonprofit organizations do their work. So we provide up-to-date analysis of the current landscapes and practical recommendations and innovative tools that promote work that aligns social justice principles with operating practices.