The Possibilists, a new study - the first of its kind - conducted by a global alliance of youth communities, reveals the pressing needs of young changemakers worldwide who dedicate their lives to social and environmental causes.
The study surveyed a diverse group of about 800 young social innovators aged 16-35 from 137 countries who all lead impact-focused initiatives, social businesses, non-profits and campaigns related to every single one of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, from lobbying for the rights of migrant construction workers to supporting sexual violence survivors.
Key findings from the report include:
- Young changemakers are sacrificing their financial security and wellbeing to change the world.
- Financial issues: 66% cannot compensate themselves beyond a token amount for their work on their initiatives (41% not at all), and only 9% can live off their ventures.
- Wellbeing issues: 59% have experienced some degree of burnout since they started work on their initiative.
- 64% feel their work is negatively affected by systemic inequalities.
- The COVID-19 crisis has increased both their capacity and desire to make a change in the world.
- Only 3% have been forced to close down activities due to COVID; the majority are innovating, adapting and responding to the challenge.
The participants in the study come from the different organizations supporting young changemakers; Ashoka, ChangemakerXChange, Global Changemakers, Kofi Annan Foundation, MasterPeace, Obama Foundation, One Young World, Peace First, Social Impact Award, Social Shifters, SOS Children’s Villages, The Diana Award, Unleash, We Are Family Foundation, Young Sustainable Impact, and Yunus & Youth. The Possibilists is supported by the SAP Foundation and Google.org.
David Jones & Kate Robertson, Co-Founders of One Young World:
"Young people around the world are deploying their ingenuity, creativity and determination to enact positive change where we need it most. They need One Young World's support in order to solve the world's greatest challenges which current leaders have failed to do. Many of them sacrifice financial security and their wellbeing in the pursuit of social impact; businesses, governments and organisations must do more to back these changemakers.”
The report recommendations
The report outlines eight recommendations for organizations to better support changemakers on a personal level and in their work with their initiatives and organizations. Support programs for youth social entrepreneurship need to:
- Focus on young social innovators as people and on their personal needs and not just on their initiatives;
- Ensure the personal financial stability of young social innovators;
- Offer wellbeing support, and avoid placing additional or unnecessary pressure and demands on young social innovators;
- Strengthen the local–international connections of young social innovators and how their work helps to translate global matters into concrete local action;
- Focus on working to reduce systemic inequalities;
- Give young social innovators a seat at the table by facilitating access to decision-makers and grant young social innovators access to places of power and influence.
About The Possibilists
Initiated by ChangemakerXchange, The Possibilists is a global alliance of youth communities that are leveraging their resources and networks to improve the conditions for young changemakers. Following the launch event on June 16, The Possibilists will kick off an open application process for innovators, leaders, funders, and policymakers from around the world who work on ecosystemic solutions that make it easier for young changemakers to be successful and create impact.