“Volunteer, donate, cement yourself to a cause,” they say. For those inept at charitable deeds, this proposal may seem a daunting task. Surely this is easier said than done. But is it, really? The reality is, the spirit of giving doesn’t have to be expressed in a particular grandiose gesture. No need to worry; no one is expecting you to jump on your noble horse and save the world, or hand over all of your hard-earned money. We are simply asking you to engage in the realm of humanity; to open your heart to the essence of connecting with the world around you, in a philanthropic way.
I can see how it would be easy to use Mandela Day as a checkmark for your civic duty of the year. However, we at Rape Crisis want to challenge you to continue that journey past Mandela Day, past those 67 minutes that you gave of yourself. As someone who’s newer to the humanitarian sector, I want to provide you with guidance for traversing from your fleeting charitable moment to an ongoing commitment.
My first piece of advice: understand that you’re not going to save the world. Yes, I said you’re not going to save the world. I met a number of people who came into philanthropic causes with the highest of expectations, only to be met with disappointment, ultimately leading to their desertion. Those of us working in the social sector know to be realistic, we are not going to change the world, but we do aim to make a difference, no matter the extent.
Perhaps quite the opposite, you feel there’s no way you can make a difference. I once thought this myself. The simple truth is, you can. Whether you impact one person or a whole group of people, the point is that you had an impact. In a time when people are truly suffering, a little gesture to you may mean the world to them.
Now, you may be wondering just how to answer this call to action. First, find a cause that you are passionate about and find an organization that advocates for this issue. Does the organization carry a message and a mission that you can support? If the answer is yes, the next step is to contact them, sign-up to their mailing list and inquire how you can aid their efforts. The possibilities are endless: volunteering for an event, making consistent donations, offering your unique skills or expertise on a Board of Trustees or even as a staff member, amplifying advocacy messages through social media posts and showcasing the work that they do. The main objective is to start a relationship with the organization. Let them know you want to help and a foundation will be formed.
It really can be that easy. The hardest part is often taking that first step, crossing over the threshold between appeasing your conscience and becoming involved in addressing the problems that are afflicting your community. Be prepared to be moved—to be physically and emotionally moved. Those of us who’ve ended up in this profession haven’t just fallen here by grace. Most of us can attest that we were compelled to do this work. I truly believe that empathy and compassion are instilled in each one of us; the trick is to tap into that space in your heart. If you truly want to honor Madiba’s humanitarian legacy, allow yourself to connect with the world outside of your own, for more than just 67 minutes a year.
If you would like to find out how to get involved in the work of Rape Crisis, visit our website and fill out our volunteer form.
A graduate from the Indiana University School of Journalism, Brittany holds a degree in Photojournalism and Filmography, with a minor in Women’s Studies. When she’s not traveling abroad for work, Brittany resides in Indianapolis where, in addition to freelance jobs, she devotes much of her time to humanitarian causes, such as being a motivational speaker and advocate for sexual violence awareness. Her ultimate goal is to combine her creative reporting skills with women’s advocacy work abroad. She’s determined to pursue ventures that provide women with platforms that encourage and empower them to stand up and share their stories.