If you’ve been following my advice on how to build your personal road map to being an effective everyday activist, you’ve triaged your issues and picked those on which you commit to being a leader. And you’ve done the research to find others who are prioritizing and focusing on your core issues too, so you’re not reinventing the wheel nor trying to swoop in as a savior when others have been doing unsung work.
Now what? Figure out how you can contribute.
When I say the word contribute the first thing you may think of is money. And it’s certainly true that if you’ve found non-profit and advocacy groups to support they would indeed appreciate donations. But money is not the only thing to contribute, and especially in these uncertain economic times, many of us may not be in the position we were in, even this time last year, to contribute monetarily everywhere we wish we could.
So. What else you got? Time, skills, stuff, and your voice.
The time to research, learn, and build your expertise on the issues. The time to volunteer, mentor, advise.
Perhaps even the time to lend your professional skills to worthy groups, organizations, associations. (And FYI, if you have ambitions to join a for-profit board someday, joining a non-profit board…especially in a capacity where you’re contributing your professional skills…is a first step you can probably get done in short order).
It only makes sense to think twice before you get rid of your stuff…from back-rev technology to gently worn professional clothes to pet supplies for a pet who is sadly no more, there are groups who can use your discards to help people (and animals).
And then there’s your voice. There are countless ways to use your voice and your platform. Cynics will dismiss social media activating as “slactivism,” but my philosophy is that if you’ve spent the time and energy to build a community or following or audience on social media who listens to you, then it’s one more asset you have, one more tool in your activist toolkit. Why wouldn’t you use it. Of course, your voice around the Thanksgiving dinner table is just as important in some cases, but your social media friends are there every day listening to you…speak wisely.
When it comes to change in the workplace, using your voice also matters. If you’re at a senior level, use your voice to elevate the concerns of your team; use your voice to change policy. Model it first with your team, if need be, but capture the results and evangelize them at and above your level. If you’re a worker bee, then talk to your co-workers and find out where they stand on the issues on which you want to see change. Lots of people may be thinking and feeling just as you are and need only the catalyst to speak it out loud. In using your voice, you can free others to use theirs.
Maybe your comfort level dictates anonymous financial contributions. Maybe your introverted nature calls for text-banking not phone-banking (guilty). Maybe you’re never going to wear nice suits or dresses to work again, and can pass them on to struggling people trying to get back to work. Maybe you can volunteer to walk dogs for your favorite shelter or do the books for your favorite local non-profit.
What you have to contribute is valuable. Just get started!