Monday, November 29, 2010

What Can I Do?

"We must remember that one determined person can make a significant difference, and that a small group of determined people can can change the course of history."~ Sonia Johnson

  Are you ready to take that stand? So now what? What can you do?

 Pick a Cause(s)! There are millions of issues out there that needed someone to stand up for. Humans, Animals, the Environment~ they are all in trouble somewhere, needing your help. You just have to figure out where you can help. The first step is picking the cause.

 So now that you know what you want to to, the question is who do YOU turn to. There are so many amazing organizations out there. More then likely one of them will relate to your cause. If not, start your own! So, organizations, which one is good? Well, that's were you have to do a bit of research. Some charities have multiple organizations available. Some go more in depth to a particular cause. Are you looking for a cancer organization or a breast cancer organization. Or do you want it to be worldwide, or just local? These are things that you will have to look into, to find just what you are looking for.  The charity navigator is a wonderful website that list over 5,500 of America's largest Charities (this is not just charities that benefit Americans, they have international charities as well). Not only does it give the name and the contact info, but it gives the financial health and over all ratings of each organization. Its a great place to look.

 So you have your cause(s)/charity, now what? Donating money to your cause is, of course, a good way to help. Its you sending money to your Charity knowing they will use that money where it is needed. But handing out money is not the only way to help. Did you know that the single most important thing you can do for your cause, more so then sending money (unless you are sending thousands of dollars)is spreading awareness and educating others about the cause? Just think about it. You can send in money yearly or weekly, to help your cause and that's wonderful. But if you tell friends, family, and anyone else you can get to listen, and then they tell others, who tell just created a network of support for your cause. That is more awareness (more people knowing about the cause) and more money if these people donate. Plus, in spreading awareness you never know who might hear about your cause.
   Lets go back to the bone marrow example again. Say you know through word of mouth of a person who needs a bone marrow transplant. Without it they will die. You test, but your not a match, you tell family and friends, maybe coworkers. Some of them really want to help so they get tested, none match. But they tell others and down the line, there is a match. If you had not spread the word who knows if there would have been a match.
 This is an example of course, but it can work for all causes. Sure, finding a cure for Cancer or Aids, may not be solved this way, but you never know. The money you and your friends raise just might give that research the extra money to run the test that does find a cure, or at least puts them a step closer.

 How do I raise awareness? I don't want to force my cause on other people, how do I go about it?
  The last thing you want to do is force your cause on anyone. But at the same time, you can spread awareness without pushing it on others. And you would be surprised how many people might be interested in a cause, I know I was. So how do you do it? We live in a world of technology. There is a million ways to get the word out. If you blog, you can blog about it. If you use Facebook or twitter, you can post information there. Of course talk to your friends and family.
 Have a dinner party for your cause. Invite people over to talk about your cause. You provide dinner and the info, and your guest come to learn. Tell them you don't expect them to bring money, just the willingness to learn about something that matters to you.
 Talk to your boss at work. Let him or her know you want to raise awareness for a cause and see if they can help. Maybe have a causal day for those who donate to the cause. Or any other creative idea you can come up with. Check and see if your company has a charitable giving plan. If so see if your charity is on it, if not find out if you can get it on there.
 For Birthday, Holidays, wedding, or any other event that involves gifts ask people to donate to your charity in Lu of gifts. And when your the gifter, ask if your giftee has a favorite charity.

 Letter writing campaigns are another thing you can do for your cause. I had never wrote a letter to my congressman, any political figure, or celebrity before I got involved with saving the dolphins. Now its a part of my daily activity. Finding key figures who could help your cause, or just finding the right person to hound (remember activist are activist... bugging them to death sometimes works!) is key. The extent of your writing will depend on your cause. If your cause is a cancer awareness or feed the children, the way you handle your writings would be different compared to someone who's cause is Anti-killing of animals. But there are key people that any activist should try and contact. Media and Celebrity. Contact major media outlets and TV host and ask them to do a show or segment on your cause. This is not a "Hey, I am raising awareness, interview me!" Letter, but a " This is a cause I am working hard to raise awareness on, and here are some key people in the organization that you should contact to do a show on them. Example.... I have contacted all major media outlets and every talk show in the US asking them to have Rick O'Barry on to talk about the issues going on in Taiji, Japan. Figure out who might be able to help your cause and start writing!

Most Organizations have "how you can help" sections on their websites. They will give you more ideas that fit your particular cause. But don't always rely on this. Be creative. Have fun with it. The options are endless!
You will never know what you can achieve until you try!

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