Illustration of female changemaker with animated hero cape

Illustration by LeeAndra Cianci

What is a changemaker?

Here’s how to make a difference in your community–one small action at a time

What exactly is a changemaker? The term can refer to someone who has started a global movement or influenced policy in a major way. (Malala Yousafzai and Roméo Dallaire come to mind.) But really anyone can make change in their community—even small actions can have a big impact. 

“For me, it’s someone who inspires others to live their most authentic life, which means being confident in your convictions,” says Chelsea Brown, founder of MILLE, a burgeoning organization that will focus on bringing women together to make positive change in the world. I want to show [people] that one small act can potentially change lives and turn into a movement.” 

We’re already inspired! Here Brown gives us her tips for being a changemaker in your own way. 

Find your passion

Tapping into causes you care about can help motivate you to get more involved. Brown was so moved by seeing the premiere New York screening of Trafficked, a film about human trafficking starring Ashley Judd, that she decided to bring the film to a Toronto audience. “By bringing Trafficked to Toronto, it was my hope that we would all become more aware of the present-day issues surrounding modern slavery in all its horrific forms,” she says. Let that moment of inspiration guide you toward a new volunteer position or a creative way to raise funds for something meaningful to you. “There may be topics you feel strongly about already, like education or human rights. Or maybe a family member suffered from Alzheimer’s,” says Brown. “The cause you tackle could be close to home.”

A movement can mean many things to different people—and anyone can be a changemaker, so don’t be afraid to try

 Tap your network

Brown’s a big proponent of engaging your inner circle of friends and family. “For my bridal shower, I asked friends and family to donate to the Iqaluit Humane Society in Nunavut in lieu of gifts,” she says. “This request was a way to build awareness and take action to raise money for a cause I care deeply about.” 

Getting even a small group in your community engaged in a cause can make a big difference. “If you live in a neighbourhood where there are a lot of young families, and all of the parents feel passionate about raising funds for children’s mental health, host a dinner. This gathers a group of like-minded people, so you can all brainstorm where to start,” Brown suggests. 

Use your screen time 

There are many great resources, like volunteertoronto.ca, civicyork.ca, or peelregion.ca that can help you find local opportunities to volunteer and outlets to give back through donations, or even better, where you can create greater momentum by organizing new initiatives that address the issue by raising awareness and inspiring others to feel as passionate as you do about the cause. Social media might be a great place to start getting people excited about a cause, and sites like GoFundMe and Change.org can help you mobilize your network to donate, sign a petition and get involved.  

Put yourself out there

“A movement can mean many things to different people—and anyone can be a changemaker, so don’t be afraid to try,” says Brown. Take the first step by reaching out to people who may be working on causes you believe in and make your contribution in any way you can. “Remember that you don’t have to be standing in front of a room full of people to be a changemaker,” she says, “the smallest acts can be the most powerful.”