How To Become An Effective Activist For Any Cause

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Activism is the intent to bring about social or political change using a variety of resources.  If it were not for activists, we in general as a society would not know about the plight of Darfur’s refugees, the harassment of gay teens like Matthew Shepard, Japanese whaling, or global warming, to name just a few.

CREATE A MISSION or VISION STATEMENT. It’s important to define in a few sentences what your ultimate goal is, and gives you a succinct way of explaining to recruits, press members, etc. what you’re all about. You might also include a personal vision statement that helps define WHY you feel strongly enough to put a plan into action.

As the days and weeks go by, refer to your Vision statement to not only remind you why you’ve decided to become an activist, but also as a gauge of your success to date. Adjust it as necessary.

LEAD BY EXAMPLE. So many bios of famous activists reveal that each of these persons started as merely an individual or small group that “stepped up to the plate” so to speak. Sometimes that’s all it takes to get the ball rolling… ONE PERSON can make a difference. Seeds planted do GROW! Learn to delegate when necessary, but never ask someone else to do something for your cause that you aren’t willing to do.

GATHER INTEL. Know as much as you can about a particular issue, pro and con! For instance, if you want to become an animal rights activist with a focus on puppy mills, then search the internet for every article that deals with the issues from both sides (consumers and puppy breeders).

Note: When publishing your findings, creating a website, or even when you’re taping up flyers and posters — stick to the FACTS. That’s not to say you have to refrain from making an emotional plea to get your point across, but your plight becomes more credible if it is based on fact, not ignorance, fear, racist or bigoted remarks, etc.

NETWORK. Whether you choose to find people in real-life or you limit your activism to an online campaign, you need to have supporters! Supporters become volunteers, campaign contributors,and more. 

So if you write an article – post it wherever appropriate, and ask your supporters to do the same. I think we all know the power of the internet by now!

If you have the ability to, and are comfortable with public speaking, then find some outlets – a high school or college campus, a church group, or maybe you can host a small home gathering.

Consider hosting an event with a complimentary activist or group. Here’s a good way to share costs, resources AND an audience!

ORGANIZE. You need to keep track of your supporters, your events, your finances, etc. At some point, your grass roots activism may blossom into a full fledge non-profit foundation. Having the organization and documentation pieces already in place will be of great benefit.

LISTEN & FACILITATE. Emotions will run high. People will question on both sides. Press members will misquote. Remain calm, remain at the helm, remain a voice of reason–and you CAN have much success shining the light on your cause!

activist_Thumb.jpgYOU can make a difference!

Check out these sites for more ideas and tools:
 www.campusactivism.org 
www.darfurstoves.org
www.change.gov

More resources:

How To Find A Recycling Center Near You

How To Help Fair Trade

How To Help The Environment

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