Last Friday, at Revolutionizing Activism, Ibrahima Niang, the West Africa Advocacy Manager at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa kicked off our discussion with an important question – how can we as advocates use generosity to influence people?

If we had any doubts about the power of strategic generosity, our incredible panelists showed us the way.

Here’s a little more information about the conversation and three main takeaways:

Aaron Gach kicked off the conversation with a look at the Center for Tactical Magic’s use of generosity, magic, and art  – modes of activism that give people the opportunity to build community, sometimes with a serving of ice cream on the side!

1. Activism can be most effective when it is participatory, active, socially engaged, and alomst always – free.

Alanna Coady then gave us a psychological perspective on generosity, shame, and guilt and how moral emotions play in role in advocacy work and trying to change societal behaviors. For example Coady observed that “when shame is focused on an institution, it can undermine public support for that institution. And that can be a really valuable goal. But on the individual level, if we’re shaming an individual, we might be closing off the option for them to join the cause – offering unconditional positive regard can be one of the most transformative things that we can offer another human.”

2. When trying to address patterns of behavior that aren’t working, we need to provide concrete alternatives.

To close, Maanasa Gurram provided an in-depth look at how the Free the Vaccine campaign used the power of creativity, experimentation, and observation to fight for access to medicine. The campaign’s creative actions involved “craftivism”, parody videos, ice cream trucks (noticing a trend?) and more.

3. Creative activism should always be responsive to change.

Each panelist provided thoughtful insight on how we as advocates can practice generosity in ways that do not diminish the gravity of the issues we’re addressing, but rather encourage strategic play that can get us closer to the goals we want to reach. 

We hope you check it out, and let us know what you think!

For more information about Revolutionizing Activism, click here.