Miss Advocacy Manners Answers Your New Year’s Resolutions Questions

Dear Miss Advocacy Manners,

I am so excited for this new year! I am feeling refreshed, rejuvenated, and ready to refocus some of my priorities. One of these priorities in 2021 is to volunteer more. Unfortunately, we didn’t leave COVID-19 behind in 2020. Do you have any advice for staying active in my community while safe from the virus?

Signed,

Here for My Community, Cautious about COVID

Dear Cautious,

Thank you for your letter. I am always inspired by my fellow advocates who are recommitting to serving their communities. Luckily, there are many opportunities available to you to stay both safe and involved!

My first tip for you, dear Cautious, is to think about your skills and interests. What are your special talents that you’d like to share with your community now? Remember, volunteer engagements work best when they are the right fit for everyone. Think about your time availability: can you volunteer every day for 20 minutes? Or one hour every week? Determining your time constraints and personal skills will help you narrow your choices to find an opportunity that you can really commit to – in 2021 and beyond.

Once you’ve done some thinking about your time and skills, I recommend visiting VolunteerMatch’s COVID-19 Resource Hub, a directory for virtual volunteering opportunities. There are lots of ways for you to stay engaged in 2021: whether it’s online tutoring, joining a nonprofit board, or making packed lunches for your local shelter.

Lastly, more traditional routes of advocacy certainly qualify as volunteering, as well! With so many new policymakers taking office, now is a perfect time to raise your voice as a constituent. Start sending emails to set up virtual meetings, or gather some friends for an outdoor letter-writing party. I promise with a little research and some introspection, you will find lots of avenues to engage with your community safely.

Wishing you luck,

Miss Advocacy Manners

Dear Miss Advocacy Manners,

Happy New Year! Since last summer, I have really been immersing myself in the racial equity conversation. I work at a nonprofit organization with a mission that isn’t strictly related to racial equity, but I’d like to see us work more in that focus area. I am not the CEO of my organization, so only have so much decision-making power. It’s not that I haven’t been aware of the impacts of racial injustice before, but I have been exposed more recently, and feel ignited to play a larger role in this fight. How do I commit to this effort without getting burnt out?

Sincerely,

Feeling the Fire, Not Willing to Burn

Dear Not Willing to Burn,

What a powerful challenge this is. As with other entrenched societal ills, the immensity of the challenge can feel so large that individuals can lose sight of our own power to create change. I take comfort in Scriptures: “You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to desist from it.”

Keep in mind, Not Willing to Burn, there is always more to learn, more work to do, and more to change. While you cannot do it alone, you also cannot do nothing. That brings me to my first area of support: finding a like-minded community. In this new year, I encourage you to gather those in your organization with similar concerns to yours. This space should be open to all and should meet regularly. A community to lean on will be key as you move your organization ahead.

Remember, your organization doesn’t need to be focused on social justice issues to advance racial equity. With your allies, look at your existing organization practices and work. To what extent are the communities you serve represented in your organization’s decision-making? Is your board, leadership, or staff representative of that community? Giving communities voice in programs that impact them is a critical component of adopting more equitable practices.

Finally, please remember your sphere of influence extends beyond your job. Even as you help your organization progress towards a greater commitment to racial equity, you can take action as an individual advocating on a wide range of racial and social justice issues.

Taking on racial equity work with a community and acknowledging that this is a lifetime advocacy commitment, will help keep you focused on the road ahead.

 

Wishing you luck,

Miss Advocacy Manners

Types: Blog
Global Topics: Civil Society, Equity, Voice, Voices for Good, Volunteerism
Focus Areas: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion