A nonviolent social movement is defined as a widespread, voluntary, civilian-led, collective effort to bring about consequential change in a social, economic, or political order using a diverse repertoire of tactics such as protests, boycotts, and sit-ins. Social movement and nonviolent movement are used interchangeably. The term “movement” is used as shorthand for both. Movements may undertake one or more campaigns. A campaign is defined as a series of observable, continuous, purposive mass tactics or events in pursuit of a political objective. 
An established body of research finds that popular nonviolent movements have been one of the most powerful drivers of democracy over the last century. They have also fostered democratic resilience–promoting inclusion and effective governance and countering democratic backsliding. From local grassroots action to national social movements, citizens continue to use nonviolent collective action to demand greater rights, justice, and inclusive development, for example, by calling on governments to enact policies that combat corruption, end child marriage, increase services for indigenous peoples, protect lands from exploitation and defending democratic institutions against illiberal erosion.
In the face of a rising global wave of a clamp down on universal human rights and increased authoritarianism, there is an urgent need to find new and innovative ways to enable and support communities waging nonviolent collective action to advance human rights and democracy. Between 2000 and 2017, nonviolent collective action created space for democratic transitions in 10 autocracies and prompted democratic elections in a further 19 authoritarian regimes, with women and youth leading many of these movements. However, the early 21st century has presented serious deliberate and incidental challenges to nonviolent collective action. Authoritarian actors deliberately seize on increasingly sophisticated tactics to maintain an undemocratic status quo and to erode respect for human rights as well as democratic institutions, laws, and norms. They also coordinate with each other to effectively use disinformation, surveillance, and infiltration to undermine civic actors and weaponize legislation to attack and restrict civic actors, including human rights defenders. Historic currents such as the rise of social media and the prevalence of technology create opportunities for quick action but also pose challenges to sustained and strategic nonviolent collective action.
 (Naimark-Rowse, Benjamin. “Dollars and Dissent: Donor Support for Grassroots Organizing and Nonviolent Movements.” Washington: ICNC Press, 2022.)