Social Change Lab

Social Change Lab

Social Movement Research

Social Change Lab seeks to maximise the impact of social movements by conducting research on the best ways to accelerate positive social change


What problem is the Social Change Lab working on?

Social movements such as women’s suffrage and civil rights have had huge impacts on the course of history, and it’s likely that they will do so again in the future. Despite this, there is almost no research trying to understand exactly how these changes happen, and if we can recreate them for other issues.

It seems extremely valuable to look at this in more detail:

  • What are the mechanisms by which they can make a difference?
  • Is it mostly by influencing public opinion, the behaviour of legislators, corporations, or something else?
  • How effective is grassroots pressure relative to other strategies?

What does the Social Change Lab do?

The Social Change Lab conducts social movement research to understand how we can most effectively tackle the world’s most pressing problems.

It seeks to inform advocates, decision-makers, and philanthropists on the best ways to accelerate positive social change across a range of cause areas, including animal advocacy efforts, climate change, and building the effective altruism movement.

The Social Change Lab is also exploring whether social movement concepts could be applied to reducing existential risks.

What information does Giving What We Can have about the cost-effectiveness of the Social Change Lab?1.

We don't currently have further information about the cost-effectiveness of the Social Change Lab beyond it doing work in a high-impact cause area and taking a reasonably promising approach.

Please note that GWWC does not evaluate individual charities. Our recommendations are based on the research of third-party, impact-focused charity evaluators our research team has found to be particularly well-suited to help donors do the most good per dollar, according to their recent evaluator investigations. Our other supported programs are those that align with our charitable purpose — they are working on a high-impact problem and take a reasonably promising approach (based on publicly-available information).

At Giving What We Can, we focus on the effectiveness of an organisation's work -- what the organisation is actually doing and whether their programs are making a big difference. Some others in the charity recommendation space focus instead on the ratio of admin costs to program spending, part of what we’ve termed the “overhead myth.” See why overhead isn’t the full story and learn more about our approach to charity evaluation.