However your YAL chapter decides to choose charity, make sure that you’ve planned ahead to ensure a productive and rewarding activism event.
Identify a local charity
Use Charity Navigator
- Sign up for an account at no cost
- Use Advanced Search
- Fill in your Zip Code (you can see charities within select radius)
- Select the box for Receives $0 in government support
- In the scope of work, select All
- After hitting submit, sort by rating and pick one of the best
If the charities nearby don’t explicitly say online that they need help, give them a call or visit their offices anyway. Chances are they do need help, even if their website doesn’t say so.
Pro tip: Large, active churches in your area will very likely have their own charitable programs. Many have food banks and coat drives around the holidays. Even if you choose not to work directly with them, they may be able to direct you to a local charity in need.
Once you choose a charity to support, get in touch with them to determine what ways your YAL chapter can get involved. Ask them what kinds of donations they accept, if there is any training necessary for your volunteers, and if you can interview someone who works at the charity for when you report your activism.
Decide how you will partner with your charity
Call a chapter meeting to determine how to proceed:
Discuss the charity you’ve chosen to ensure everyone in the chapter is familiar with its mission and why it was selected.
Determine what other groups on campus, as well as local businesses, churches, and charitable organizations might want to join your project.
Think of all the tasks involved. Consider appointing specific members to various roles to give them ownership over an aspect of the event.
Event Director: Someone who communicates with the charity, puts together a schedule, purchases all the materials, and handles the logistics of the event.
Outreach Director: Someone who recruits other members and reaches out to other campus organizations to participate.
Documentarian: Someone who takes plenty of pictures and films your activism. This is an important role, so your chapter can share your activism story in a stand-out blog post.
Media Director: Someone to send out press releases and contact members of the media to gain attention for your event and increase your potential supporters.
Many charities will already have a list of activities for which they need volunteers, as well as specific supplies which they’re lacking. Be sure to listen to the charity’s needs rather than imply deciding how you want to help. Too often, charities will have groups of enthusiastic people who are well-intentioned but unwilling to listen and cooperate for the most effective results.
Once you’ve coordinated with your charity to plan the right event, each chapter member with a designated role should take action.
Set a schedule which works for the charity — and then get everyone in your chapter to follow it. This schedule should include everyone’s responsibility and when it should be executed.
At the end of the day, be sure to thank the charity for allowing you to volunteer and for the good work they do on a regular basis to voluntarily help those in need.
They play a hugely important role in our communities and often go without recognition.
Bring a thank-you card with you and have everyone in your chapter sign it — you’ll be sure to brighten the staffers’ day!
Even if it’s your campus paper, getting media attention for your activism event can reach hundreds, if not thousands, more people. Use these resources to learn how you can make the news at the campus, local, state, or even national level!