5 Steps to Launch a Movement

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The issue of human trafficking is one layer in the complex problem of modern-day slavery. With so many organizations looking to find a viable solution to end slavery, it’s hard to know how you can help. So what can you do about it? 0708_RJWeb_HowTo_LaunchaMovement2 Enter Bryson Vogeltanz, founder and chief steward of the End It Movement, a coalition of 10 national and international nonprofits working to end slavery. Launched in 2012 at the Passion Conferences, End It targeted 18- to 25-year-olds as its brand champions. That original group of 40,000 students in the Georgia Dome that year raised $3 million to jumpstart the movement. But beyond the conference, students took the cause into their own hands. “There’s a group at the University of Kentucky that wanted to have a pancake social, and they served red pancakes,” says Vogeltanz. “People asked them, ‘Why are you having red pancakes? Do you know how bad red food dye is for you?’ And they responded with, ‘Do you know there are more slaves today than any other time in history?’” End It Movement set out to create a groundswell of awareness about slavery, and in its 24-hour Shine a Light on Slavery campaign this year, it accrued more than 265 million impressions on social media. The call was for supporters to draw a big red X, the movement’s logo, on their hands that would serve as a conversation starter to tell others about modern day slavery. At a recent event in Atlanta, Vogeltanz shared how End It Movement evolved from a grassroots campaign to being the subject of international headlines. Here are his tips on what it takes to launch a movement. 1. Get the right people onboard. “We [Vogeltanz and nonprofit leaders] decided to have an offline Freedom Summit. Then we invited a friend from the U.S. Department of State, a friend from the U.S. Department of Justice and a friend who helps lead the CNN Freedom Project, and we got in a room for 24 hours. And we said to them, how can we help you end this horrific problem?” 2. Agree on one cause. “Do we call it human trafficking? Do we call it slavery? I didn’t care what we called it. It came down to the problem that slavery still exists. Is it a faith problem? No. Is it a religious problem? No. It’s a human problem. We can agree on that. We can agree that we live in a world where humans should not be bought and sold against their will.” 0701_RJWeb_LaunchAMovement3 3. Create a clear, consistent brand message. “Our challenge was to uncomplicate the complicated. We had to simplify the complex parts and clarify the overwhelming problem, because if we didn’t do that, no one was going to get onboard. We had to simplify to amplify our message.” 4. Give your followers a declaration. “The declaration we wanted people to share was, ‘I’m in it to end it.’ And people were like, ‘That’s cute.’ But it’s not cute. Because when you say it to people, it’s provocative. It makes people think, are you really in it to end it? It has power.” 5. Have a singular call to action. “We said Feb. 27 is ‘Shine a Light on Slavery’ day. This is the day you’re going to draw a red X on your hand. This is 5-year-olds to 95-year-olds. This is everyone. You don’t need to download anything, you don’t need to buy anything—just put a red X on your hand. The grassroots of this were unbelievable. We empowered people to be the movement, not do it.” Photo credit: End It Movement, Zach Benson