This is a guest post from Tom Dawkins, Director of the Changemakers Festival – Australia’s national festival of social change – which is coordinated by TACSI. The article first appeared in Pro Bono Australia News.

We live in an extraordinary time.

We have never before had such a powerful opportunity to make a difference.

Incredible tools exist for us to find, connect, collaborate with, and activate others who share our passions, to build movements, campaigns and organisations dedicated to creating a better world.

As people desiring change we can use blogs and social media to get our story out there and grow our community. We can rally attention using petition tools on sites like or GetUp!’s CommunityRun. We can fund our initiatives using crowdfunding sites like StartSomeGood (full disclosure: I’m the founder). We can share video with little concern for bandwidth.

While politics lags, people-powered innovation is happening at break-neck speed. This cutting-edge progress is led by a new and passionate generation of change makers, ranging from activists to organisers, social entrepreneurs to independent journalists who are taking full advantage of the new tools at their disposal.

And these external changemakers are increasingly finding ways to connect and build partnership with intrapreneurs inside government, corporates and large non-profits who are also looking for more effective ways of making an impact.

In other words, the way change is happening is changing.

The rise of social enterprise, the role of intrapreneurs, the impact of social media and new ways of funding social impact work are just a few of the topics which are being explored during the Changemakers Festival October 17-26 nationwide.

The Changemakers Festival, now in our second year, is an “open-source” festival, with participating events being organised and hosted by organisations and individuals in every state and territory, with over 200 events expected in the program.

For organisations the Festival provides a great opportunity to grow their community, raise the profile of issues they care about, raise funds or launch new initiatives.

For individuals, the Festival is a jumping-off point for whatever it is you need to make a difference.

If you need to build your understanding about trends such as collaborative consumption, crowdfunding or social enterprise, there are great presentations and discussions you can attend. If you want to gain practical skills, there are workshops to teach you how to raise money or gain attention for your cause, use design-led approaches to social impact or take better care of yourself. If you want inspiration, there’s film screenings and visionary speakers. If you want to meet like-minded people, there are networking events. If you need support, there are pitch events and opportunities to connect with funders. There’s hack events, vision quests, unconferences, inspiration café’s, fundraising challenges, feasts and so, so much more.

Our ultimate goal is to create a more innovative, collaborative and connected social impact community in Australia.

Increased connectedness makes a more empowered future possible, pooling what Clay Shirky (a speaker at Changemakers Festival event the #StartingGood Digital Summit) calls our “cognitive surplus” in order to create things far beyond the ability of one lone individual. It allows us to share worthwhile stories, inform each other about troubling issues, or link with individuals on the same wave length.

This is also true for the Changemakers Festival. It represents a coming together of the social impact community across our sector and issue boundaries and provides a space for us to share stories, learn from one another, and build community locally and nationally.

I hope you’ll be part of it.


Tom Dawkins
Director, Changemakers Festival

Connect with Tom on twitter: @tomjd

Check out the full Changemakers Festival program

And it’s not too late to submit your event to be part of the Changemakers Festival!