Giving Compass' Take:
- Christen Brandt and Tammy Tibbetts offer seven ways that everyone can become better activists for any cause.
- Are you ready to jump into or step up your existing activism? How can you best support movements through activism?
- Learn about how to think creatively about social activism.
What is Giving Compass?
We connect donors to learning resources and ways to support community-led solutions. Learn more about us.
“Activism” officially peaked as a buzzword this year, for good reason. But did you know that millennial men are 15 percent more likely to call themselves activists than millennial women are? What makes this baffling: 74 percent of nonprofits are led by women, so there is no shortage of activist role models out there for women and girls.
So, if you need a few reminders on how to get started as an activist, or need a refresher course on how to become even better at it, no fear: We’ve turned to the experts who gathered at the She’s the First Summit to get their best insights.
It doesn't have to be a huge event. “Not every protest has to be the size of a women’s march," says Jessica Bennett, author of Feminist Fight Club. Don’t underestimate the power of continued, small actions to change your community, such as: volunteering, engaging in thoughtful dialogues online or at the family dinner table and calling your local rep over lunch hour.
Search out other perspectives. Make sure you’re inviting other perspectives to the table, even when you’re not the official organizer. If you’re in the room, you’re in a position of privilege and can lift others up. Are you at an event where all the attendees look like you? Did a conference book speakers on a panel who all share similar backgrounds? Speak up. Offer them a list of qualified people they could invite who offer diverse perspectives.
Use listening as its own form of activism. “By showing up and having an open ear, [you can then] use your privilege, or your gender or your race to speak up” on behalf of marginalized groups, says Amanda Gorman, the first-ever Youth Poet Laureate of the United States.
Tell stories with empathy. Whether you’re giving a speech, publishing a Facebook post or making a video, think about how you can help people connect not just with statistics and facts, but with human faces who are affected by the policies and inequalities.
Understand the world to understand what's happening at home. “Dive deep into global issues each month and become an active global citizen," says Katie Riley, Programs Manager of She’s the First. A huge part of activism is just knowing what’s going on in the world and understanding how to apply that to your local communities, and vice versa.
It's not about you. “The point of activism is not to become that one person that everyone goes to," says Nelli V. Agbulos, Co-Founder of ARTivism Galleries. If you’re an organizer, make sure you give people in your community the tools and autonomy to take action, with or without you.
Get over feeling you have to be perfect and know everything. “Activism is not a circle — it’s a lot of squiggly lines on a piece of canvas,” says Agbulos. In other words, you don’t have to feel like you know everything about an issue to speak up for what’s important and needs to change. A true activist is always striving to learn and understand more, as the world continues changing.
Read the full article about being a better activist by Christen Brandt and Tammy Tibbetts at NBC News.