Knowing How Social Movements Happen To Kickstart Funding

Wikipedia rightly defines social movement as a “type of group action. They are the large informal groupings of individuals or organizations to focus on specific political or social issues. In other words, they carry out, resist or undo a social change.” Totally perceptible, but how?

Any successful ‘movement’ needs a core idea, leadership, talent to support the leadership and the people to create the movement. Recent developments like the phenomenal success of OWS shows that it’s not as clear and as easy as that.

David Graeber, one of the founders of the OWS movement likes to say that he had three goals: learning to drive, promote his book and launch a revolution. The first didn’t happen yet, the second proved challenging, and the third is not looking up. Funding has become a crucial element in the sustainability of the organization i.e., growing pains.

Any new organizations dies a thousand deaths as it leaps and straddles forward, often going through several revisions of strategy and vision. I’ve got sympathy for OWS. They’re afraid for the first time. They brought tablets down from the mountian top, we were all enthralled and fascinated. Now this rising star is facing the grist of the mill, their significance is substantial, but their chances of survival thin as their relevance has slipped backed to core fans, little airplay is being provided (apart from their decline) and they could be forgotten.

OWS is a challenger of the rules, heroic in charting a course that’s different to what’s been done before, with principles (often too many) that’s made their stand unique and created such a massive following of millions, but now it needs to stay ‘fresh’ and sustainable. How to halt the rot is to recognize the three core elements that fuel the fire of a movement: frustration about the status quo, injustice from the 1 percent’s cadre and a hope of change. Communication and messaging need to target these to accelerate the funding program:

Build back rapport: Trust
Create relevance: Message
Instant gratification: Knowledge
Ignite passion: Action

Barry Manilow probably has the best advice, “They might not remember what I sing, but they’ll remember how I make them feel.”

How to save Occupy Wall Street

The ‘return of our capital’ for the 99% might be the greater principle over ‘return on my capital’, but we face a quandary if taken too far: “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” Winston Churchill

The success and rapid ascension to the world stage of the Occupy Wall Street movement has forced the enterprise to realize it is a brand that needs investment and funding is paramount; so much so they could no longer be functioning within a month! But is their something more fundamentally wrong with “Occupy Wall Street” that if strategically corrected could boost their sustainable appeal and help provide the movement momentum and much needed funding?

Plato wisely said, “Necessity, is the Mother of invention” therefore, words before “but” are redundant. Skeptics and ehadists belie capitalism has deliberately created a disproportionate deluge and in its wake it punishes, intoxicates and behaves like a despot in the world’s markets, radically debilitating infrastructure and diminishing local economies both to work and provide for themselves and forcing upon all an ever-increasing sense of imperceptible vulnerability.

Capitalism is like a sow with nine teats and 15 babies: crisis is the price of capitalism, that’s the core of the problem. And what created it needs to be fundamentally improved. That we agree. OWS has a role, but it will be a vague memory without cash. Many current interpretations of OWS, (like some of their perceptions of capitalism) are malicious, mischievous, and ill informed. Demonstrably OWS brought people together and out of our frustration, sense of injustice and hope they helped start a world wide movement. That’s OWS: a platform for change. That’s truly great, but getting $50 out of someone is a lot harder.

Without a brand reinvention and clarity of purpose I cannot see OWS playing the role it deserves to play. To build trust, OWS need to reinvent themselves including changing their name. Entrepreneurial lore states that a new ‘brand’ may have 3-4 strategic revisions before it finds it’s rightful place. Occupy Wall Street carries with it an excessive amount of uneasiness if looked at literally by the public. Every inch of media has exposed OWS in a revolutionary light and edged it out on the fray: a brand declines when it’s no longer sublime. To come to the center, OWS need to shift OWS and therefore, OWS need to review their brands architecture that has spawned across cities and countries and seek to find a ‘public facing’ solution that suits the needs of a sustainable fund raising  ‘brand’ i.e., wake up running.

For Everyone, Eveywhere: a summation of Occupy Wall St.

Business creates wealth, purpose and dignity, “The lack of money is the root of all evil” commented Mark Twain. Building new sources of growth and being successful in new markets often demands acting in an unfamiliar manner and in entrepreneurial ways. Robert Lowenstein of Bloomberg Business Week finally provided the elevator pitch in his article in last weeks edition, “It’s not a hippie thing.”

“They want more and better jobs, more equally distribution of income, less profit (or no profit) for banks, lower compensation for bankers, and more strictures on banks with regard to negotiating consumer services such as mortgages and debit cards. They also want to reduce the influence of corporations – financial firms in particular – wield in politics, and they want a more populist set of government priorities: bailouts for student debtors and mortgage holders, not just for banks.”

Now that wasn’t too hard, was it? In all these weeks there have been countless opportunities for the media to compile with alacrity a succinct perspective of OWS. But the task of achieving them is not so simple. No one really doubts that free markets, fueled by capitalism, can be the most effective engines for generating growth and relieving the poverty trap. It’s whether these clogged arteries can be tipped less in the favor of the bankers, with genuine transparency, regulatory guard rails and oversight.
As Aristotle would have told us, “The greatest virtues are those which are most useful to other persons.”

The tsunami of new money that awaits the herd is not too keen on the latter it would seem. But that new money is without question, like its eager voyeur OWS, at the front line of change of New Century Capitalism. What is it? Utilitarianism – the greatest happiness for the greatest number or myopic on profit and survival of the fittest (to be defined). The latter will no doubt receive an abundance of attention over these coming weeks, what with the debilitating recession, euro bailouts in the billions, the weakening of sovereign nations’ credit worthiness and the chaffing of the unemployment belt.

The business model has already been created: making profit while doing good. And prevalent between the shifting goal posts are the idiosyncrasies necessary for change: the technology platforms to enable, new business systems to employ, changing consumer appetites (for change), transformation of buyer behavior in social sharing, different partner incentives open to adaptation and changing regulation. These foundation stones are worthy – evidently some were thrown aside by the original architects. Perhaps their rough edges will weather better in future storms and provide against internal corporate slippage?

The principles of making money while doing good has flaws; it costs to set it up, it needs change from within the enterprise to accomplish and will take leadership to counter all fears. And be warned of Peter Drucker, “If you find someone focusing on CSR, fire him, and fire him fast,” which I find particularly grievous.

Conscious commerce need not be about feeding the world. It should be focused on the transformative power of business for economic, personal and social good, to engage the public, entice investors and shape a better world. That’s what OWS makes clear from its words and deeds: new century capitalism that is focused on making money while doing good for everyone, everywhere.