Feeling overwhelmed with the state of the world right now? Want to do something to help? Not really sure where to start? You’ve come to the right place.
Tammy Tibbetts and Christen Brandt know a thing or two about being part of social change. Their nonprofit, She’s the First, which fights gender equality through education, has garnered support from Michelle Obama, the United Nations and Diane von Furstenberg to name a few.
And now, the two have penned a new book that guides readers on their journey in making a difference. “Impact: A Step-by-Step Plan to Create the World You Want to Live In” will be released Nov. 17, but we asked the co-authors to share a few tips in the meantime.
Ready to change the world? Check out Tibbetts’ and Brandt’s tips below:
1. Focus on your cause and mission
Sure, there are a lot of things you care about that need fixing, but how do you avoid burnout and feeling scattered in your do-good efforts? The authors suggest focusing on one specific outcome you want to see achieved in the world. In the book, they call this your “North Star.”
Maybe you want to see a world where the planet is sustainable or one where democracy thrives and truly represents the best interests of the people, Tibbetts gives as examples.
“If you’re feeling unsure of where to focus your time and energy, consider the issues that feel most personal to you,” Brandt said.
Then, once you know the cause you want to focus on, find community groups that you can join. “You can’t achieve it all alone,” Tibbetts said. “Plug into existing movements and efforts so that your small actions combined with others add up to real, systemic change.”
2. Identify things you can personally offer to the cause
Monetary donations to causes you care about are extremely helpful, but money isn’t the only valuable resource. “Think about all of your skills, expertise, assets and the time you have to share them,” Brandt said.
For example, if you’ve got a green thumb, start a community garden, she suggested. Or if you have a car, offer to take supplies for an organization’s upcoming event. “Launch a social media campaign, offer free workout classes, host a movie night or brunch but make it an opportunity for your friends to learn about a cause and give,” she said. “Think about what you’re naturally good at and what you like to do, and I bet you can find a way to work impact into your life without breaking the bank.”
Tibbetts added that you can also offer your professional skills — things like graphic design, financial forecasting and project management — to a nonprofit. “You can sign up to help them on a platform we love called Taproot+,” she said. “We’ve had success finding pro bono volunteers here, and they’ve done projects that have been valued at tens of thousands of dollars.”
3. Start a fundraiser
“Most of us can raise more money than we can personally give,” Tibbetts said. Whether it’s a social media fundraiser or a fun event, you can help encourage others to join your cause. As you invite people, she suggests telling a story about why this cause matters to you.
She also likes to give people two options: to donate or share information about the cause. “And I remind them that no amount is too small,” Tibbetts said. “Even if someone cannot give money, if they can share information, you never know who they will reach who might become a supporter.”
Brandt did a social media fundraiser for her 30th birthday with a goal of $10,000. “I had never raised that much all at once before, and I was super honest with my friends and followers about how nervous I was — and how much it meant to me every time a donation came in,” she said. The fundraiser ended up raising more than $11,000.
“Remember that what matters to you will automatically matter to your friends, too, and you can always start small and build your way up,” she added.
4. Volunteer with a nonprofit — and consider joining its board
Once you find a nonprofit that matches your goals, sign up to volunteer. But remember it comes with responsibility. “Even though you aren’t getting paid, the organization you signed up with is counting on the commitment you made,” Brandt said. “Volunteers who show up on time and deliver what they promised are the equivalent of impact gold to an organization, so try to only sign up for the opportunities you know you can follow through on.”
And if you truly love the nonprofit and want to do more, consider joining the board. “Serving on any kind of board is a high-influence, high-impact way to use your resources,” Tibbetts said. “It’s a huge honor — and a big responsibility.” She said you may be sought after for the role, but you can also pursue a seat at the table. (You can find out more about how to join a board in their book.)
5. Keep listening and learning
“A writer named Rachel Naomi Remen famously distinguished between the verbs ‘helping,’ ‘fixing,’ and ‘serving,’” Tibbetts said. “To truly make a difference in your community, country and the world, you need to come from a place of service. You need to be humble and recognize that you don’t hold all the answers — the people who are closest to the problems have a unique perspective. It’s so important to listen more than you lead.”
Brandt added, “We encourage our readers to keep an impact journal while reading ‘Impact’ because so much of this journey truly is inward. And that reflection is not something you do once; it’s an ongoing process. The good news is, the longer you do it, the more you learn and grow. There is no expectation that you’ll ever be perfect — neither you nor we ever will be. But every day, you can be better.”