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The definition of a changemaker

We believe there's a changemaker in all of us, but too often obstacles get in the way of our impact. Learn what we think it means to be a changemaker and how anyone can become one.

Max Friedman
November 2, 2022
Nerd Mr Butter

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Each of us has the capacity to be a changemaker. 

These words were constantly on replay like a song stuck in my head in the early days of Givebutter when I was surrounded by fellow undergrads eager to make a difference in the world. 

For many people, an optimistic worldview fades the farther they get from their college dorm. But over the past six years, the tens of thousands of people that Givebutter has been able to equip with the tools they need to bring their communities together and create lasting change have just made this drum beat louder. 

Labels like changemaker get thrown around a lot in tech and social impact spheres, ultimately getting watered down or losing their meaning altogether. I'd like to share what being a changemaker means for us at Givebutter and imagine what kind of transformation this new era of changemakers is truly capable of. 

What is a changemaker?

Changemaker definition: /chānj'mā'ker/ (noun) A person with a bias toward action

What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word changemaker?

A great leader like Nelson Mandela? A daring advocate like Greta Thunberg? Those “Think Different” ads from the 90s? Or maybe it’s something closer to home—a teacher who stood up for you or a colleague who made you think, “That’s the kind of person I want to be in this world.” 

Of course, there’s no wrong answer (if you said vending machines, take a lap).

A changemaker is anyone who proactively works to improve the environment around them. Changemakers are the commanders, figureheads, muckrakers, movers, shakers, and agitators, but they are also—and more often than not—the people whose names we don’t know who are quietly working behind the scenes to make things happen. 

At Givebutter, we operate on the belief that changemakers include every person involved in making the world a better place. The changemakers that our platform supports and celebrates include: 

  • Volunteers
  • Nonprofit professionals
  • Donors
  • Activists and organizers 
  • Fundraisers
  • Board members 

…and so many more.

Our society is more generous than ever, collectively powering $471B in donations in the United States in 2020, making it the most charitable year on record. Then 2021 topped that, and despite inflation, 2022 is looking to be another windfall. But even with these unprecedented levels of giving, nonprofits and changemakers of all stripes continue to face economic challenges alongside this surge in demand for social change.

Each of us has a role to play in determining what happens next. 

Anyone can become a changemaker  

You don't have to be featured in a Nike commercial to call yourself a changemaker. Becoming a changemaker begins with setting an intention. 

Many of us know we want to make the world a better place, but we struggle to know exactly how to do it. We may think about our impact in everyday life: where we spend our money, how we travel, who and what we pay attention to. But with so many small ways to think about impact, we are sometimes left wondering if it’s enough or if we are concentrating our efforts to truly make a difference.

What change can I really make? 

If we think of changemaking like a spectrum, the different methods of making a difference come more into focus. Where do you see yourself at this moment?

  • 🔍 Seeker: You’re in the process of finding your inspiration and seeking out your home for action. Now is a time for reading, listening, and reaching out to find the places where you can best share your time and resources.
  • 🧩 Assembler: You’ve found your changemaker inspiration, but you still need access to the right tools, funding, or people to get things moving.
  • 🔨 Doer: You’ve got the inspiration and the resources you need; now it’s time to bring your people together to create something meaningful and fun that will help you reach your goals and grow your changemaker community.

Changemakers start here

There are so many ways to be a changemaker in the world. Donating, volunteering, and raising awareness are all ways of giving back. This act of giving—our money, our time, our skills—is built into human nature. In fact, it’s essential for human happiness

When we lean into the aspects of giving that makes for a significant—even joyful—experience, those who give will want to do it again and again. It’s how change grows.

I’m proud that Givebutter has become a home for changemakers, a place made for connecting people with causes and connecting causes with their communities. I truly believe that the biggest reason we’ve grown as quickly as we have is that we make giving a fun, social, and significant experience. We believe that everyone should have access to the best tools to enact change, which is why we’re free for changemakers, easy for donors, and meaningful for everyone involved.

Wherever you are right now in your changemaker journey, I hope you’ll join the Givebutter Fam in the movement to power the next billion changemakers.

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