Europe Report
2023

Why the world needs Possibilists

Young individuals from across Europe are creating important positive change on all fronts of society. They devote themselves and their resources to tackling some of the most pressing challenges of our time, often at a great personal cost. This special Europe edition of The Possibilists Report highlights their impact and sheds light on their struggles and needs.

This special European edition of The Possibilists Report is supported by:

Google Logo

The change
we envision:

The Possibilists is an alliance of the world’s largest support networks for youth innovation. Our vision is a global support ecosystem that is aligned by a shared, data-driven understanding of the needs that young changemakers have; creating the best possible conditions for them and their initiatives to thrive.

A Global Alliance

The Possibilists run scientific studies to explore the impact, challenges and needs of young changemakers. We hope these reports will serve as a leading resource for governments, foundations, civil society and anyone willing to support young social innovators. With the data gathered, we then launch collective action projects targeted at improving the support ecosystem.

Theory of Change

Our collective effort is guided by a clear vision of the systemic change we strive to achieve.

The problem(s) we aim to solve:

Young changemakers tackle some of the world’s most pressing challenges, but the conditions in the ecosystem make it difficult for them and their teams to thrive and to deepen or scale their impact.

  1. Lack of resources: The initiatives of young changemakers are underfunded, and they struggle with personal financial health. Less than 1 in 10 of them can compensate themselves fully for their work on their ventures.
  2. Stress and burnout: Young changemakers experience stress and exhaustion and are prone to burnout – and in consequence may lose hope, become cynical and at risk of disengaging.
  3. Juggling responsibilities: Many young changemakers have other ongoing professional commitments in parallel to the work on their initiative. Only a small portion of them can dedicate themselves fully and exclusively to their initiatives.
  4. Lost impact: Society misses out on the true potential of young people’s ideas and energy, and some of the most disruptive and inclusive social innovations.

Our envisioned systems change:

The global support ecosystem is aligned around a shared, data-driven, understanding of the needs of young changemakers and creates the best possible conditions for them and their teams to thrive and to deepen or scale their impact.

The impact we aim for:

Young changemakers thrive personally and deepen or scale their impact.

The 2023 Study

This study was conducted in 2023 by an alliance of the world’s largest support networks for youth innovation. It was driven by the desire to better understand the lives and realities of young changemakers from around the world. We reached a total of 1656 changemakers from around the world, of whom 1160 run existing initiatives beyond the ideation stage. 229 of them come from Europe. The data presented in this special Europe report focuses on the latter.

Info on the study participants:

229

young changemakers

29

countries across Europe
Age
Age
Gender
Gender
Overall Report: Origin
Overall Report: Origin
Education
Degree
Education
Degree
Marginalized
Including:
Young women and girls
LGBTQIA+
Migration backgrounds
Religious and other minority groups
Racial discrimination
Young people
Disability or other health related issues
Economically disadvantaged people
Indigenous people
People from a rural or underserved community
Marginalized
Including:
Young women and girls
LGBTQIA+
Migration backgrounds
Religious and other minority groups
Racial discrimination
Young people
Disability or other health related issues
Economically disadvantaged people
Indigenous people
People from a rural or underserved community

A powerful force for change

Aged Billion youth Of global population
Aged Billion youth Of global population
1.8 billion people are between the ages of 15-35 across the world. This equates to around 25% of the global population.

They are winning Nobel Peace prizes, and mobilizing movements around the climate crisis in ways that put global leaders to shame. They are voting in record numbers, volunteering, showing up for their communities, leading powerful movements against corrupt systems, and are choosing purpose over paychecks. They are taking real action, and it’s time to take them seriously.

Jo Bautista
SendtoGive, Philippines
Alhassan Baba Muniru
Recycle Up!, Ghana
Avina Ajit
RIO, India
Jan Stassen
Janet Aguti
Sazzad Hossein
SDI Academy, Singapore
Vera Günther
Mimycri, Germany

Life happiness

As this report will show changemakers face many challenges. Despite this, life satisfaction among young changemakers in Europe is strikingly high. On a scale of 0 to 10, they rank at a 7.40 on average. This is considerably higher than the global average of 5.55. In fact, if changemakers in Europe were a country, they would rank 6th in the world (out of 96 surveyed countries), between the Netherlands and Sweden. Being able to pursue their passion and work in line with their purpose and values plays a large role in their overall life satisfaction.

World Happiness Report 2020-2022 average

The Possibilists

Median
Mean

What they work on and why

When we asked changemakers from Europe to think about their work within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework, the three main focus areas are:

Creating impact across all the Sustainable Development Goals

The young changemakers from Europe in The Possibilists sample are working across all SDGs, with every single one being addressed.

When asked to think about their work within the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) framework, the three main focus areas are tackling some of the most pressing issues that affect all of humanity:

Quality Education (35.4%)
Climate Action (24.9%) – which is significantly lower than the global average of 30%
Reduced Inequality (24%)

In the global sample the third place isn’t taken by “Reduced Inequalities, but Gender Equality (25.3%)

Globally speaking SDG 13 (Climate Action) has risen by an astounding 21% since the 2021 study and is now the second key focus area, replacing SDG 10 (Reduced Inequalities). This highlights the high level of urgency that young changemakers feel around climate action.

SDG 4

Quality education

35.4%
SDG 13

Climate action

24.9%
SDG 10

Reduced Inequality

24%

Distribution across SDGs

Distribution across SDGs

Key Finding 1:

Most young innovators focus in Europe on educa­tion, seeing it as major accelerator for creating change. Climate action is now a close second, highlighting the level of urgency youth feel regarding the planetary crisis.

Rachita-Saraogi_the-Possibilists
Rachita Saraogi
UK
The education system needs to provide opportunities for girls in their formative years and make a difference in their own lives.

What they work on
and why

Young changemakers are deeply motivated to make the world a better place. Here are the different reasons changemakers in Europe, and globally, mention in regard to why they work on their initiatives.

Filter by

Region

Main motivation for their changemaking

Very limited motivation
Limited motivation
Neutral
Strong motivation
Very strong motivation
Filter by...

Filter by

Region
Very limited motivation
Limited motivation
Neutral
Strong motivation
Very strong motivation

Above anything, young changemakers in Europe, in line with their peers globally are driven by the wish to mobilize and empower others, wanting to contribute to critical global issues, and by the urge to do something for the community they come from:

Want to mobilise and empower others Want to contribute to processing global issues Want todo something for the community they come from And/or live in
Want to mobilise and empower others Want to contribute to pressing global issues Want to do something for the community they come from and/or live in
Key Finding 2:

Young social innovators in Europe are not primarily driven by their own employment needs and wishes, but rather by an intrinsic desire to improve the lives of others on a global and local scale.

Jan-Stassen_the-Possibilists
Jan Stassen
Germany
I hope that we are just the “early adopters”. My hope would be that all of us develop the ambition to co-shape the future. The future doesn’t happen to us, we are active agents and co-pilots on this massive and beautiful planet that we call home. So, I’m playing my part in co-shaping and hope more people will, too.

How they create change?

Young changemakers in Europe use a number of different approaches in order to create positive change, often applying several at once. Be it education, advocacy or policy change, here’s a breakdown of how they generate impact.

Key Insight

Just like their peers around the world young changemakers in Europe work with diverse theories of change, and use multiple different approaches to create impact; most prominently education 60,7%, influencing public opinion 45,9%, and supporting other organizations or environmental work 40,2%.

Self-Identification

When asked to think of their own role in driving social/environmental change and the extent to which they agree with the following descriptions, 89,8% agree or strongly agree with the description ‘changemaker, 74,6% agree or strongly agree with the label ‘young leader’, 71,5% agree or strongly agree with being named a ‘social innovator’, 53,4% agree or strongly agree with ‘activist’, 64,4% agree or strongly agree with ‘social entrepreneur’ and 33% agree or strongly agree with ‘intrapreneur’.

Globally 94.5% of changemakers agree or strongly agree with the description ‘changemaker, 89.4% agree or strongly agree with the label ‘young leader’, 81.2% agree or strongly agree with being named a ‘social innovator’, 71.4% agree or strongly agree with ‘activist’, 73.5% agree or strongly agree with ‘social entrepreneur’ and 54.4% agree or strongly agree with ‘intrapreneur’.

How many people do changemakers in Europe reach?

Whether it is those they reach indirectly through social media and other forms of communication, or those they work with directly, young social innovators consistently cite their impact as being the most rewarding aspect of their work.

Indirect reach

The amount of people their initiatives reach via social media, newsletters or other forms of communication on average.

Direct reach

An estimate of how many people lives they expect to have positively impacted, meaning how many have either directly participated and benefited from their activities or have been using their services and/or products on average.

The key challenges young change­makers in Europe face are

Lack of personal financial security

54%

Juggling various responsibilities

57%

Lack of important contacts

45%

High risk of burnout

58%
Year

A Closer Look

Ronan-O-Dalaigh_the-Possibilists
Rónán Ó Dálaigh
Ireland

Location

Ireland

Initiative

Thriftify

Thriftify is the online charity shop that connects ethical sources of used goods with consumers who care. Each year the charity retail sector receives over 3 billion used garments - by enabling this sector to sell online, they are aiming to disrupt the fashion industry for the better.

What has been one of your greatest challenges?

“Funding has been our biggest struggle. We barely got by on small grants and awards for 2-3 years before we were able to raise capital. This came at a great personal and financial cost to our founders – including lost income, lost time in being able to purchase a home and raise families. There isn’t enough funding for early stage ideas. If we had gotten more funding early on, there is no doubt that our impact would be much larger than it is today.”

Despite tackling some of the world’s most challenging issues with creativity and tenacity, young changemakers also face immense obstacles within their own work. Generally speaking, changemakers in Europe face slightly better conditions than their peers elsewhere, but still experience immense difficulties which make it hard for them, and their teams, to thrive and deepen their impact. That is especially true for individuals who self-identify as marginalised.

Filter by

Marginalized
Region

Observation: Nearly all changemakers report facing several and different hurdles to working on their initiatives. Those who self-identify as marginalized face more hurdles on average though, with the average number of reported hurdles being 3.39 compared to 2.6 for those who are not marginalized.

Hurdles

Filter by...

Filter by

Marginalized
Region

Observation: Nearly all changemakers report facing several and different hurdles to working on their initiatives. Those who self-identify as marginalized face more hurdles on average though, with the average number of reported hurdles being 3.39 compared to 2.6 for those who are not marginalized.

Systemic Inequality

Binta Jammeh_The Possibilists
Binta Jammeh
Campaign Accelerator
France

Location

France

Initiative

Campaign Accelerator

Binta Jammen is a core member of Campaign Accelerator, where she works with European and nation-wide institutions, NGOs, and social movements to help them grow their impact through citizen mobilization, community organizing, and inclusive / equitable governance.

What has been one of your greatest challenges?

“People have questioned the validity of my work, or if exceptionally-produced work was capable of being put together by “someone like me.” From meeting with funders to pitches and presentations of my work, I have been met with comments that remind me that I operate in spaces where representation of black women is limited.”

Key Challenge 1

Financial Insecurity

Financial insecurity is consistently referenced as the greatest challenge that young social innovators face. While changemakers in Europe do a little better compared to their peers in other regions, 32% of them cannot compensate themselves financially at all. Only 15,5% of them can cover all their necessary expenses through their initiatives. This is almost 4% less than in 2021, meaning their financial situation has worsened in recent years. Access to funding remains a challenge, and the pandemic and rising inflation rates have left young changemakers with even less financial security and more financial worry.

The financial challenges of changemakers globally in more detail:

  • Nearly 50% of young changemakers cannot compensate themselves at all for their work on their initiatives (31,90% in Europe).
  • 70% of them say a lack of personal financial security is a key hurdle for them, and their teams, to thrive and deepen their impact (54,1 % in Europe).
  • Only 6.4% of all young changemakers can cover all their necessary expenses through their initiative work. This is almost 3% less than in 2021, meaning their financial situation has worsened (15,5% in Europe, 4% less than in 2021).
  • Nearly 8 out of 10 young changemakers can only cover half or less than half of their necessary income through the work on their initiative, meaning they have to look elsewhere for financial compensation and security (7 out of 10 in Europe).
  • 21.7% can compensate themselves financially with a symbolic amount (25% in Europe), 11.0% can cover half of their necessary income through the work on their initiative (12,5% in Europe), 6.8% can cover most of their necessary income through their work on their initiative (9,95%). 7.8% prefer not to answer / Don’t know (5,2% in Europe).
  • Women are less likely to be able to remunerate themselves than men. And in general, respondents from marginalized groups are significantly less likely to be able to compensate themselves. 
  • Age plays a role too. The older in age, the more likely they are to receive compensation and vice versa.
  • Individuals identifying as “young changemaker”, “young leader” or “activist” are less likely to be able to financially support themselves through their initiatives. 
  • The more educated they are, the more likely they are to receive compensation.
  • Those leading or working at later stage ventures are more likely to receive compensation. 
  • Changemakers active in SDG 5 (gender equality) and SDG 6 (clean water) are significantly less likely to report being able to compensate themselves. Those active in SDG 8 (decent growth) and SDG 11 (sustainable cities) are significantly more likely to report being able to compensate themselves.

Filter by

Gender
Region
Filter by...

Filter by

Gender
Region
Key challenge 2:

Stress and Burnout

Stress and burnout unfortunately remain part of the changemaker experience, also for those based in Europe. In 2021 61% of respondents report having felt completely burned out, even being in need of help, or having had one or more symptoms of burnout. 78% of young social innovators in the 2021 study reported needing support in increasing their well-being. In 2023 the number of people feeling completely burned out or having one or more symptoms dropped to 30,6%, which, on the one hand is encouraging, but on the other hand means that 3 in 10 people experience burnout. 83% report a need for support in increasing their well-being and that of their team.

Reflections on Burnout and Wellbeing for changemakers globally:

1 in 4 changemakers report experiencing some form of burnout and only 25% report no symptoms of burnout or stress whatsoever. That being said, these numbers have improved since 2021. This could reflect an overall increase in wellbeing after the burdens of the pandemic. Additionally, the 2023 study included a more accurate definition of burnout in the survey question, which may have influenced how people rated themselves. In qualitative follow up interviews, some respondents mentioned that the 2021 report served as an alarm bell to take action to protect their mental health and prevent burnout. And that they had since then focused on improving their mental health. 

On a broader note, it’s important to consider that those who are suffering from a severe and/or diagnosed burnout are also less likely to engage in such a study (as they disengage from work to focus on recovery) and therefore while more optimistic than 2021, we should take these numbers with a grain of salt.

Financial Health and Wellbeing

A vicious cycle: While the study did not find a direct correlation between ability to compensate oneself and risk of burnout, the qualitative interviews told a slightly different story. Nearly all those interviewed identified a strong connection between financial insecurity and the detrimental effect it had on their mental health. In many cases, they described being stretched thin, worrying about money/finances, and feeling overwhelmed or alone, all of which leads to burnout. Once they are burnt out, this makes economic success even harder to reach and they often look for side jobs to carry them through and thus the cycle is perpetuated. It is consequently difficult to isolate the key challenges that young changemakers face, as there is much overlap. Therefore, a more holistic approach to supporting young social innovators would be beneficial to all.

Risk Factors

Work, and changemaking, doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Young changemakers remain susceptible to external factors, and structures, that may influence mental health. Unsurprisingly, those who face discrimination, bullying or microaggressions in the workplace are more likely to suffer from burnout. Those who juggle various responsibilities and carry additional mental loads, including caregiving, studies or additional jobs, are also at the greatest risk of burning out. Women and those who self-identify as marginalized report the highest levels of burnout.

 The two greatest risk factors* for burnout are: 

  1. Self-doubt (e.g. imposter syndrome) 
  2. Juggling various responsibilities

* These risks factors are assessed through the correlations between experiencing a particular challenge and facing burnout symptoms.

 

A Closer Look

Melanie Marcel_The Possibilists
Mélina Marcel
France

Location

France

Initiative

SoScience

How have you been personally affected by stress?

“The impact of stress has been immense. I have suffered a loss in my productivity and creativity. I notice myself feeling hopeless and when it all becomes too much, sometimes I just want to stop trying to save the world and go live in the woods!”

Key challenge 3

Juggling
Responsibili­ties

Yes
No

78% of changemakers in Europe have other professional commitments in addition to the work on their initiatives. 57,1% say this constant ‘juggling act’ is one of the main hurdles to their success and impact of their ventures.

22% of Possibilists can dedicate themselves fully and exclusively to their initiative.

A juggling act

Website Profile_Najla Vallander_Palestine
Najla Vallander
Palestine and Sweden

Location

Palestine and Sweden

Initiative

Zero Waste Palestine

Zero Waste Palestine is an initiative that sheds light on environmental-related issues and promotes sustainable and waste-free practices for Palestinian and Middle Eastern households. We aim to create a movement of positive change for the planet and make environmental actions accessible and engaging, especially in contexts where this issue is deprioritized.

Your work has great impact, but you can’t fully focus on it – how do you cope with that?

“For the last five years, I have juggled a full-time job in addition to working on my initiative. I recently quit my paid job because I couldn’t do two things at the same time without it affecting my well-being. I have been on the verge of burnout twice, and that has made me very cautious in my current daily life. I am always moving between many different projects and tasks related to my venture – I do that because I’m trying to figure out a sustainable source of income that I can rely on. Trying out a lot of things simultaneously feels like the only way that I’ll be able to figure things out – and for financial reasons, I need to do that quickly.”

Key challenge 4

Lack of important /
powerful contacts

In many cases, young social entrepreneurs are just starting out on their career journey and lack valuable contacts and connections needed for their work. 44,60% of respondents in Europe said the lack of powerful contacts was a key hurdle to the success of their venture and 85,4% of respondents said access to relevant global connections was important or very important for their work. In addition, they expressed a strong desire for access to industry experts and mentors.

89,9% said that increasing and improving the level of collaboration with other projects/organizations and institutions was important or very important to the success of their initiatives.

Access

Website Profile_Elif Atmaca_ Turkey
Elif Atmaca
Turkey

Location

Turkey

Initiative

Toyi

Toyi is a social enterprise that designs and produces open-ended play experiences for all children to make their daily lives more sustainable and playful. Toyi aims to produce play experiences that will make play accessible for every child by connecting social entrepreneurship and the toy industry.

What would you wish for?

“The social enterprise ecosystem desperately needs commercial know-how. If accelerators and education programs could bring in high-level, industry-specific mentors or experts, that would help us immensely. It’s also very important for us to make new connections in order to expand our impact and reach more people. When we focus on our own field, we can miss current trends. That’s why we attach great importance to following thought leaders with whom we can follow new sustainable business models, working culture and changing social/environmental needs.”

What Changemakers
in Europe need

The types of support young changemakers consider important or very important:
  1. Collaboration
    89,9%
    of respondents said increasing and improving the level of collaboration with other projects/organizations/institutions is important or very important.
  2. Quality
    85,8%
    of respondents notes that ensuring the quality of their services/project/programs is important or very important.
  3. Access to networks
    84,1%
    of respondents said that access to relevant global connections and networks for their work is important or very important.
89,9%
of respondents said increasing and improving the level of collaboration with other projects/organizations/institutions is important or very important.

What Changemakers
in Europe need

  1. Increasing their impact
    85,8%
    of respondents noted that increasing their impact and scaling (e.g. expanding into new geographic areas, accessing new target groups, expanding through other organizations, etc.) is important or very important.
  2. Specific skill development
    84,9%
    of respondents said that specific skill development for advancing their initiative (entrepreneurial thinking, fundraising, business development, scaling strategies etc.) is important and very important.
  3. Access to peer networks
    81,8%
    of respondents said that access to peer networks (i.e. with other young changemakers) is important or very important.
85,8%
of respondents noted that increasing their impact and scaling (e.g. expanding into new geographic areas, accessing new target groups, expanding through other organizations, etc.) is important or very important.

What Changemakers
in Europe need

  1. Impact Measurement and Evaluation
    85,8%
    of respondents noted that ensuring the capacity of their initiative to report and describe its impact (financially and for the activities implemented) is important or very important.
  2. Visibility and Recognition
    89,4%
    of respondents said that gaining visibility, recognition and legitimacy for their work was important or very important.
  3. Basic Security
    41,8%
    While a smaller percentage of people in the data sample consider it important or very important we think it’s critical to acknowledge that over 40% of young changemakers in The Possibilist Study 2023 consider “Basic security for staff/myself (e.g shelter, food, water, heating)” to be important or very important.
85,8%
of respondents noted that ensuring the capacity of their initiative to report and describe its impact (financially and for the activities implemented) is important or very important.

Climate anxiety

79,5% of changemakers in Europe are worried or extremely worried about climate change (compared to 83% of all respondents globally), which is higher than in comparable international samples. The majority has a mix of negative feelings about it as well; more than half experience that these feelings have a negative effect on their daily life. Overall, this underlines that young changemakers are acutely aware of the climate crisis and its consequences, and many experience anxiety. While such anxiety, as well as anger and other emotions, are a powerful motivator for climate action (as demonstrated in the questions related to their activities), they can also lead to decreased wellbeing, depression and other forms of mental suffering.

46.3% Extremely worried
33.2% Very worried
16.6% Moderately worried
1.7% A little worried
1.3% Not worried
0.9% Prefer not to say

How can we support changemakers to go from surviving to really thriving?

Recommen­dations

If young people are giving up their financial security and wellbeing to improve the state of the world, it is our responsibility and duty to offer them REAL and meaningful support. In order to improve the lives of changemakers, strengthen their ventures and develop the changemaking ecosystem, we recommend the following actions. They have been developed through multiple conversations with members of The Possibilists Alliance, as well as qualitative interviews with 8 young changemakers from around the world. In addition, they build on important existing reports, including the State of Youth Civil Society by Restless Development, the OECD report on Unlocking the Potential of Youth-led Social Enterprises, the United Nations report on meaningful youth engagement and Unlock the Future’s Challenge Paper on resourcing youth-led initiatives.

Support Networks
Funders
Policy Makers
Changemakers

Focus on the Person, Not Just the Organization

Look beyond the ventures they run, and look at how your programming can support them through personal growth and challenges.

Break the Heropreneur Paradigm

Open up activities to the founders’ teams, and ensure a more equal distribution of knowledge and resources.

Use ‘Changemaker-centered’ Design

Whenever possible, develop individualized offerings that are tailored towards the young changemakers’ diverse needs, rather than your own, or those of the programme funders.

Prioritize Wellbeing

Work to improve the wellbeing of changemakers, and include specific activities that help them prevent burnout in your programmes.

Build Acumen

Bring ‘business’ expertise and commercial know-how to your programmes via mentors or connections to corporates.

Respect Their Time

Accept that young people are often juggling various responsibilities alongside their initiatives. Don’t put extra pressure on them with excessive deadlines & surveys. Consider different time zones and availabilities when running activities.

Invest in Relationships

Effective collaboration cannot be rushed or forced. When aiming to create opportunities for changemakers to collaborate with each other, invest time into building initial trust and human connection.

Communicate Clearly

Effectively communicate what your programme offers, so that young changemakers can differentiate it from other existing options.

Walk the Walk!

Involve young people in key leadership positions in your networks, and try to break down hierarchies in your own organizations to avoid replicating systemic inequalities.

Become Facilitation Pros

Gathering groups of young people and/or connecting them to key stakeholders necessitates good facilitation skills, invest in training for your team(s)!

Compensate Young People

Whenever you invite young people to micro-engagements as speakers or advisors, ensure you compensate them for their time.

Use a DEI Lens

Re-evaluate all of your processes from a diversity and inclusion perspective. Consider how to improve processes for those who have poor internet connection or are not fluent in English.

Rebalance Power

Really trust young people to lead and give them decision making power; avoid upholding systemic inequalities that disempower young people.

Co-create

When designing grants designated for young changemakers, co-create your strategies with young people from the word go, then during implementation involve them in key decisions.

Give Flexibly

As much as possible, give unrestricted funding, allow young grantees to respond and adapt to fast changing social and environmental problems.

Allow Overhead

One of the biggest challenges faced by young entrepreneurs is often covering the fixed costs of their organizations. Ensure that budgets can cover personnel and overhead costs.

Living Stipends

Do not overlook the fact that some changemakers, especially those that self identify as marginalized, can struggle to cover basic costs of rent, food and medical supplies. Your consideration of granting personal living stipends can make a crucial difference.

Remove Barriers

Make applying for grants and support as easy as possible. Make reporting as easy as possible (Challenge: Can you cut it in half?).

Be Responsive & Transparent

Communicate your decision-making process transparently. Remain responsive towards young individuals that may not have proven successful in their application (and consider compensating them for the time they spend creating their proposal).

Commit Long-term

Provide support in the long run(Why end funding after three years if the job is not done yet?)

Use a DEI Lens

Re-evaluate your processes with a diversity and inclusion based perspective. Consider how to optimize processes for those who have poor internet connection or are not fluent in English.

Seek Out Unusual Suspects

Those who self identify as marginalized face even bigger hurdles to funding. Actively seek out grantees from under-represented groups and look beyond those who are most adept at proposal writing.

Compensate Young People!

Whenever you invite young people to micro-engagements as speakers or advisors, ensure financial compensation for their time.

Go Local

Do not neglect the option of directly funding local youth-led organizations, especially in areas where the biggest proportions of youth live, but access to funding is lowest.

Meaningfully Engage

There is a huge difference between meaningful and tokenistic engagement, ensure all your teams are well versed in this differentiation.

Rethink Formats

Most gatherings which are focused on developing policy (e.g. WEF, COP) are not facilitated or set up in a conducive way for young people to meaningfully contribute. Think about new, innovative and participatory event formats.

Use a DEI Lens

Re-evaluate all of your processes from a diversity and inclusion perspective. Consider how to improve processes for those who have poor internet connection or are not fluent in English.

Respect Young Changemakers

Acknowledge young changemakers as contributors, innovators and knowledge-holders on the basis of their perspectives and experiences and give them a seat at the table which reflects this.

Aim High for Participation:

Empowering youth with full autonomy over decisions is a challenging form of participation in policy-making but should be aimed for when possible.

Engage at Each Stage of the Policy Cycle

Try to involve young people at each stage of the policy cycle (design, planning, analysis, implementation and evaluation)

Give Clear Legal Frameworks

Many young social entrepreneurs have to use alternative legal structures which don’t reflect their hybrid business & impact models.

Improve the Evidence Base

Improve the evidence base on youth-led initiatives. Incomplete data collection on youth driven impact is a barrier for both policy makers and the public to fully assess their challenges and impact.

Connect Young People & Governments

Local municipalities are often critical ‘replication partners’ for social innovations but connections between them and young changemakers are rare.

Better Integrate Changemaking into the Education System

Research shows the importance of starting out early in one’s changemaking journey. Current education policy and curricula however, do little to cultivate the skills necessary to effect social change.

Visibility

Give visibility and recognition to young changemakers via awards and communication campaigns.

Ask to Be Paid!

Many funders and ecosystem organizations are not used to the idea of compensating young people for micro-engagements. Help us to change their mindset on this by raising awareness!

Break the Heropreneur Paradigm

Share spotlight and opportunities with your teams and ensure knowledge and resources are more equally spread.

Prioritize Self-care!

Wellbeing inspires well-doing, you will ultimately not be able to sustain your impact if you cannot do so for yourself, and may burn-out.

Fall in Love with the Problem

We believe that this mantra from the world of entrepreneurship is even more pertinent to social change. Try not to become too attached to your own solution, but instead focus on the problem you are trying to tackle.

Apprentice with the Problem

Social change is not about ‘innovating’ in a vacuum, it’s about fully understanding the problem and the people affected by it.

Aim for the Root

Beware of the temptation of the quick fix and look deeper at the roots of the problem you are trying to solve. Understand the system in which it is embedded.

Think Collaboratively

Because of this systemic complexity, transformative impact simply cannot happen in isolation. Collaboration is the only way.

Find Your Tribe

Don’t underestimate the power of finding a community of people who share your challenges and support each other.

Practice Saying No!

Starting out, we are often trying to wear many hats and looking to gain experience quickly. Be mindful about what you agree to. Saying no is about prioritization, reducing opportunity costs and being more self-aware.

Seek Out Support

There is an abundance of existing support for young changemakers. From corporate mentoring to legal advice; seek it out and grab it!

Have a Life-long Learning Mindset

The social and environmental problems we are facing are complex and fast-changing. The mindset with which we can tackle them is one which is always open to new ideas and approaches.

Be Coachable!

This is one of the most crucial traits of effective changemakers. This means being open to learning from others, self-reflecting, and confronting uncomfortable truths.

The Possibilists Huddles
- A Call for Action

In an attempt to support anyone willing to further engage with the data and take action towards improving the conditions for changemakers in their country or community, we created The Possibilists Huddles: A minute by minute guide and script to help you make sense of the Possibilists Report results and contextualize the data in order to spark meaningful action for the young changemakers in your community.

Help us spread the word

You think many more people should hear of this report? We agree! To that end we’ve created an extensive communications package, including visuals, social media captions, quotes, images, a press release and more. Please help us spread the word.

Who we are

Initiated by ChangemakerXchange, The Possibilists is an alliance of 20 of the world’s largest youth social innovation networks and over 50 local and regional youth organizations. They have a combined total reach of thousands of young changemakers, activists and startup social entrepreneurs globally. Together we deliver real insights into the lives and work of changemakers and co-create systemic solutions to improve the conditions for Possibilists everywhere.

The Way Forward

Young changemakers are willing to take on the world’s greatest challenges to create a better future, but they can’t do it alone.

Ssekitto Kalule Emmanuel_Uganda
Ssekitto Kalule Emmanuel
Uganda
"The present and the future of humanity lies in the hands of changemakers. The ones that are bold to stand up and do something because it’s through doing something and taking action, that we come up with solutions that address some of the world's most pressing needs of our times."
Website Profile_Marcela de Anda_Mexico
Marcela de Anda
Mexico
"In Mexico we say “poner tu granito de arena”, which means that with your actions, you are contributing with a little grain of sand to build up a beautiful beach altogether. I believe that the more changemakers we are, the more we believe in our projects, the more we support each other to make them sustainable and make them grow, the more people will see social entrepreneurship as not just work, but a way of life."
Jan-Stassen_the-Possibilists
Jan Stassen
Germany
I hope that we are just the “early adopters”. My hope would be that all of us develop the ambition to co-shape the future. The future doesn’t happen to us, we are active agents and co-pilots on this massive and beautiful planet that we call home. So, I’m playing my part in co-shaping and hope more people will, too.
Website Profile_Namrata Tiwari_India
Namrata Tiwari
India
"Personally for me working with the grass roots communities from a very early age has built my character and kept me rooted. Change is such a slow process, but a single visit to the community puts everything in perspective for me. You realise the stakes are high when it's not just about you. When you know you are contributing to something bigger than yourself, even a drop in the ocean counts!"
Website Profile_Rogers Omollo_Kenya
Rogers Omollo
Kenya
"I have a deep interest in meaningful and ethical youth engagement in policy making, especially on matters which affect vulnerable young people. I hope to play an important role in the future in championing a people-centred approach to addressing community needs such as poverty, diseases and education."
Maria-Clara-Magalhaes_the-Possibilists
Maria Clara Magalhaes
Recife/Brazil
“To reach my desirable 2030 future, I must act now. The future has been entrusted to me, I need to be bold and bright. If not now, when? I do all my projects because someone needs to do it. If not me, who?”
Alhassan-Baba-Muniru_the-Possibilists
Alhassan Baba Muniru
Ghana
“We have colonized the earth and we see ourselves as separate from nature - and hence we also deny climate change. These are the things that keep me up at night. I hope that our generation will be able to change some of this for the better.”
“I think we are pace setters, our job is to challenge certain things and the status quo. I believe sometimes as changemakers we may not live to see the change we strive for. Simply because our work is bigger than us.”

More data

We did our best to keep this report as consice as possible. For anyone interested to dig even deeper into the results, please find below the full list of questions and summaries of answers.

Newsletter

Sign up to the ChangemakerXchange Newsletter:
We would love to keep in touch and occasionally share news with you from ChangemakerXchange, The Possibilists and the world of youth driven social and environmental change.