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Why you need more than awareness to drive results

Challenges Jul 24, 2022

Awareness is the primary objective of many fundraisers, non-profits, and advertising campaigns. Wear a ribbon, walk in solidarity, or run a race to raise money for a good cause. Post a link or share a photo on social media to spread the word. Volunteer to hand out flyers. These are crucial first steps toward building a movement and important displays of support for people suffering from an illness or injustice who need allies. However...

Awareness should not be our only goal

We should not set the bar only at encouraging people to get screened for cancer. We should strive to defeat the various forms of cancer, so that they no longer claim the lives of millions of people every year. We cannot rest just after understanding our impact on nature. We must put new sustainable methods into practice if we are to restore balance to our ecosystem. We should not be content with supporting citizens who were affected by violence or whose rights have been wronged. We should seek to end violence and ensure equality in the future.

Awareness alone does not magically lead to cures, environmental renewal, or justice. Only action can achieve meaningful change and usually that means volunteering, lobbying, petitions, donations, or innovations. These twin goals of awareness and action are often thought of separately when in reality they are both part of the same journey. We cannot foster meaningful action without a commitment to awareness. We cannot realize concrete results without action.

Results require momentum

Yet change rarely comes from a single action. As documented in the Surmountable book, successful movements around the world have required repeated actions in order to change the status quo. Not once every few years, either. They need a sustained effort to trigger a discussion, discovery, or invention that leads to a resolution.

Movements may never achieve a consensus, but they do need consistency from their supporters. They cannot build their ranks if volunteers do not show up on the day of an event. They cannot pay the full-time staff required to run an organization when donations are not predictable. They cannot go to the negotiating table and expect results if the number of members they represent has been a roller coaster. They cannot follow through on a new innovation when their philanthropic funding dries up.

Organizations do not need 100% awareness to make progress because there are very few issues on which there is total agreement. Trying to connect with the last few hold outs is rarely worthwhile since change does not come from attention. Momentum is what delivers results. Want to read more every week about which movements and organizations are generating momentum?


Surmountable, PBC was founded to help people make the most of their limited time or money on the issues that matter most to them, so that we can all translate awareness into action into results.

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Chapter 9 of our groundbreaking book on social movements delves into one of the most polarizing events of the past 20 years. Read exclusive social commentaries and interviews with one of the co-creators of Occupy to determine its place in history. Did they deliver results?

Decide for Yourself

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Adam from Surmountable

The founder and CEO of Surmountable, PBC and co-author of Surmountable: How Citizens from Selma to Seoul Changed the World.