Volunteering Forum

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  • 1.  Advocacy & Volunteering

    Posted 11-20-2020 14:31
    My brain has been thinking about the connections between volunteering and advocacy lately, toying with how they're similar to and different from one another.

    According to Indeed, the first two "steps" to take in your volunteer journey are to 1) Decide which causes you care about, and 2) Identify the skills and knowledge you can offer.

    To me, identifying the causes you care about sounds a lot like advocacy: 

    "Advocacy is a way to systematically press for change. It is also the foundation of our democracy and a process that allows ordinary people to shape and influence policy at all levels. Identifying priorities, crafting a strategy, taking action, and achieving results are critical steps to finding one's voice, making oneself heard, and shaping one's future." (edCircuit)

    What do y'all think?
    Do you see overlaps between the two?
    If so, where? If not, why not?

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    - Drew
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  • 2.  RE: Advocacy & Volunteering

    Posted 12-09-2020 14:15
    Edited by Mhari Goldstein 12-10-2020 08:27
    @Quinn Drew, I love these questions and "Identify the skills and knowledge you can offer" is where the answer lies to me. I find the distinction between volunteering and advocacy similar to difference between Service and Service Learning. 

    Service: The action of helping or doing work for someone.
    Service Learning: An educational approach that combines learning objectives with community service in order to provide a pragmatic, progressive learning experience while meeting societal needs.

    To me, advocacy requires a learning element. In order to advocate on a cause or issue you care about, you need to have a much greater knowledge and understanding of the issue and it's place in the larger systems that impact it. The reason why advocacy is so powerful as a way to serve is because, when done successfully, you can affect the lives of millions of people who are touched by those systems! 

    An example of this that I came across in the past revolved around the issue of homelessness.  A volunteer for a homeless shelter might help organize the food pantry, while an advocate for those experiencing homelessness might speak at city council meetins and argue for more access to mental health and rehabilition services. Both are valuable and necessassry ways to serve that population! 

    When there are causes that I want to be an advocate for I try to discover ways that I can learn more about the issue and who (if anyone) is already advocating in that space. Advocacy is a way of lending your voice in a public space to show support or reccomend reform because, if you want to be impactful, you gotta know what you're talking about!

    @Nicole Daines, I know you've really been looking into adovcacy lately. What are your thoughts?​

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    Mhari G.
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  • 3.  RE: Advocacy & Volunteering

    Posted 12-30-2020 12:51

    @Mhari Goldstein - thank you for these insights. Makes total sense that advocacy includes a learning component! I talk a little about that in an LGBTQIA presentation I give - specifically, I talk briefly about the similarities and differences between being an ally, advocate, and activist. It's on this slide: 

    The previous slides are Ally 1.0 (learning the basics), Ally 2.0 (digging a little deeper) and then this one: changing culture (which is the 3.0). In it, I talk about the fact that you can choose your method: do you want to primarily be an ally (actively being part of a support system), advocate (using your voice and talents), or activist (getting political). While that's an over-simplification of a much larger web, I think the learning component is crucial in all three. 



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    - Drew
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  • 4.  RE: Advocacy & Volunteering

    Posted 01-05-2021 11:16
    Thanks for tagging me @Mhari Goldstein and thanks for starting this thread @Quinn Drew  ​! 

    I'm sure I'm not alone in sometimes feeling stuck with how to move forward with finding something meaningful I can do from a volunteering perspective, and it's nice to have this simple framework to keep in mind. It reminds us that there are many ways to volunteer, and one of the best ways is to look within yourself to figure out what you truly care about and what can you - uniquely you - offer to help advance a cause forward. If you're someone who is great at framing up an issue and mobilizing people around it, then perhaps advocacy is for you, if you're not already there! 

    One of the things I struggle with around advocacy, and to @Mhari Goldstein's point around knowing what you're talking about, is that there are so many more experts out there who really know these issues inside and out, where I feel less informed or confident about advocating for any one thing, even things I believe in. 

    Anyone else feel that way? 


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    Nicole Daines
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