There are so many good wishes for social change across the globe. Every person on the planet has the power to make a difference to somebody somewhere. It could be their local community, their city, or overseas involvement.
Just think: Every positive action, however small, has a powerful impact.
How big is your personal impact? (You can take a survey to find out at the bottom of this post!)
What’s interesting is that while many people want the best for the world, only a small percentage act on their feelings and do something about making the world a better place.
When I talk to people about what I do at African Volunteer Aid they all agree that freeing people from poverty is a great idea and that it’s important work, however, most people think it’s important work for someone else to be doing.
It’s different for everyone, we all come from different backgrounds and while we might all care, we all have different ways of showing it. I think a lot of the time people actually feel there is nothing they can do to help.
I don’t have to wonder so much about what motivates the people who do follow through and take action, I have a report from a research team that can actually tell me (and you) what’s what.
The team at Waldrom University has been working hard to monitor social change, to see where it is at, where it is going, and, (what I find interesting); who is making the biggest impact.
It’s more or less been a ladder they have built. Their first report in 2011 looked at social change itself, why does it matter, who does it impact? They took it up a step the next year by identifying what motivates someone to lead the way in social change.
These two things came together in their next study in 2013 – the one I’m really liking, they wanted to know how motivation is effecting social change.
The 2013 Social Change Impact Report shows how many people are taking action to help create positive change, what actions they take, and why.
The Waldron University research looked further into leadership and asked who is leading social change, what type of people, what are their interests, what do they have in common.
It was a pretty impressive study. The survey was sent out and 9,000 adults in all took part from a variety of countries including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Brazil, China, Germany and India.
What they uncovered was different types of motivation led to different levels of involvement and leadership.
What is a Social Change Agent?
Waldron defined people who took action in a positive way through giving, advocating or volunteering their time and resources to someone in need as a Social Change Agent.
A Social Change Agent is anyone who creates positive change either to an individual or to a community anywhere in the world.
The great news is, most people are social change agents. 83% of people had taken positive action for social change in the previous six months!
Here are the six types of Social Change Agent they found in the study:
Ultra Committed Change-Makers
The ultra committed are those that dedicate their lives to helping others. In most cases these people had parents who were deeply dedicated and active in social change as well. Almost every Ultra Committed Change Maker wants to make a difference in people’s lives because someone helped make a difference in their own life. These people are usually really active online in advocating their beliefs and speaking on behalf of people in need.
Faith –Inspired Givers
The big driving factor to Faith Inspired Givers is religion. While others might have said work or school or study, Faith inspired people to act on their religious beliefs.
The study showed that these people were usually older and not as active online.
They experienced social change at a young age, through their church or family upbringing and want to set a good example for their children. Many of them said they feel that they have been blessed in their lives and want to share their blessings and show gratitude, or even feel that they are morally obligated to give back to the community.
Socially Conscious Consumers
Socially Conscious Consumers help out by supporting the people and businesses they believe are making positive impact to social change.
They look for services and products that they believe behave in a responsible ways towards the environment or communities.
They will pay attention to social injustice and green issues and feel a sense of social obligation to be thoughtful in their actions and educated on the consequences.
In most cases they believe that their commitment to purchasing from sustainable and social conscious sources is a lifeline goal.
The purpose that drives the motivation for these Social Change Agents is work or study.
They are less likely to donate money and usually do not get personally involved, however they take greater risks and will tend to make more personal sacrifices than other Social Change Agents.
They feel being active in social change will benefit their chance of getting into college, gaining employment or getting a better resume. Some only participated in the activity as a class assignment, education project or work initiative.
In most cases there are significant negative impacts on relationships, friendships or families as a result of their personal beliefs about social change. Because of this there is usually no lifelong commitment to social change as the sacrifice is too great.
In the case of Casual Contributors the focus here is the local community.
These people believe that social change is important and it is also personally important to them, however, they are less likely to take action and when they do, it is unlikely they will make a lifelong commitment.
Social Change Spectators
Being a spectator doesn’t necessarily mean these people do not participate in social change activities, they do, only they don’t feel that what they offer is impacting. Usually these people did not experience any social change activities when they were growing up. They do take positive action but they do not actively go out looking for ways they can contribute and do not feel like what they do matters or is important. They also don’t feel as though their own lives are enriched when they help someone.
Are You A Social Change Agent
Each type of Social Change Agent offered different levels of involvement that align with their personal values and interests. There were a small number of participants in every country that said they never engage in social change.
The study also showed some interesting patterns from country to country which suggests that culture and upbringing also has an impact on who is willing to participate in social change. The study also suggests that children who have been taught social change empowerment at school are more likely to be social change agents as adults. Almost every person who participated in the survey agreed that social change strategies need to be taught in schools (93%).
If you’d like to take the survey yourself Waldron University have made it available online. http://impactreport.waldenu.edu
– Jess Charlotte