“I am really concerned, but I’m not sure what to do that will make me feel better.”
I have heard this refrain a lot in the past several months. It typically comes from those who are troubled about what will (or might) happen during the Trump presidency. This question comes up frequently during major seismic shifts, whether they are social or political. The emotion attached to it varies according to the potential impact it could have on society. The abolition of slavery, womens’ right to vote, the war in Vietnam, the Civil Rights movement, and more recently, climate change are just a sampling of the issues that have been met on both sides with great passion that comes from deep personal conviction.
When faced with what feels like an inflection point in history, some are motivated to act, others speak out, and some march, advocate and organize. Our freedom to voice our opinion on issues is one of the underpinnings of our democracy in the US. Organizing and speaking out is essential. Each of us finds our own way to be heard.
Another way to feel proactive about issues that concern you is to direct your
philanthropy toward organizations addressing issues you care about. But where do you start if you don’t have a clear path? Start by learning more about what resonates for you. Then shift into action.
A few questions may help you clarify:
- What are your core concerns?
Is the environment your major focus or is it immigration, or human rights? It could be more than one issue, but it’s useful to prioritize them in order of importance to you and understand why these rise to the surface for you.
- Do you prefer to address the consequences or root causes?
As an example, what is more interesting to you: funding an organization that organizes protests or one that builds bridges between opposing groups?
- What is your risk tolerance?
Do you prefer to support stable, known, organizations with proven results, or are you drawn to supporting innovative solutions that are less proven?
- Do you want to be able to see the results in your community or are you more interested in issues that have regional or national significance?
- Do you want to be involved in the work yourself, either as a volunteer, Board member or advisor, or is addressing the issue more important than your own involvement?
Are there some issues you want to be involved in while others you just want to support?
Answering these questions will help you narrow the options of where you can have the greatest impact while addressing the issues about which you care most.
Next, seek out organizations working on the issues you have identified as priorities. Research which are making the greatest impact and determine if their work resonates with you.
Answering these questions can help clarify how to shift from focusing on what concerns you into a more empowering direction that includes action.
In addition to making you feel better, you will also be modeling a productive way to channel for your concerns to your family and friends. It’s important to start somewhere. You’ll be glad you did.