Can You REALLY Make a Difference?
Do you ever look at the sea of hurt and pain, injustice, brokenness and inequality and think it's all too much. It's too big, too heavy, too evil. There's nothing my small budget, or my time could do to help. Since I can't make a difference, why even try?! I remember feeling that way too, and then we did the smallest thing I could think of. We hosted a dinner to fight human trafficking and asked the friends that came to donate money with us.
At the end of that evening we were able to give $300, which felt BIG. Not because that amount of money could end all human slavery, but it could help 1 girl have the chance for freedom.
And that's where it started.
1 Dinner, 1 Girl.
When you look at those around you that you feel are making a huge impact I want you to ask yourself how? How are they doing it? Did they just decide one day to start a non-profit that would feed entire communities and poof it happened?
Take Charity Water for example. After a boozy decade of nightclub promoting, Scott Harrison (the founder) declared spiritual, moral, and emotional bankruptcy, and started over. He spent two years in Africa, saw the effects of dirty water firsthand, and came back to New York City on a mission.... now 12 years later they are working in 26 countries providing water to over 8 million individuals.
Or what about Rescue:Freedom?
After a business trip to India in 2008 Jeremy Vallerand (the founder) had a chance to see the contrast between exploitation and freedom. He came home determined to do something about it.
That summer, Jeremy made plans to climb Mount Rainier and realized he could use his mountaineering expedition as a fundraiser to fight slavery. Jeremy shared his vision with his climbing friends, and together they formed Climb for Captives.
Over the next few years, he and a group of friends joined together to dream about what it would look like to build an organization that could fight slavery around the world. In 2012, Rescue:Freedom was born. Now 10 years after that initial trip, Rescue:Freedom is working in 14 countries, providing care for close to 50,000 individuals and supporting 20 local partners.
What do these stories have in common?
1. A simple idea and a desire to help.
Do you need to launch a non-profit to make a difference? Nope. You just need to start. Right where you are. Not sure what to do or who to help? Here are a few questions to help you narrow it down:
- Is there a specific 'problem' that really gets you fired up? This does not have to be a big global issue. What about helping kids read, helping the elderly, local food banks, shelters, foster care...
- Is there a specific way that you could help? This isn't just about giving money! What skills do you have that you could 'gift' them, volunteer, give your expertise....cooking, cleaning, bookkeeping, counseling, organizing...You name it, I guarantee they NEED your help!
- Is there a fun way that you could do a personal fundraiser? It's time to think outside the box. Gather your friends and community and give people a new way to be involved. You could host a Freedom Dinner like we do, or sell extra dahlia tubers like Willow & Mabel Garden Co, or organize a movie night, or wine club, book club.... Basically ANYTHING you love to do can be leveraged to bring people together and help others.
Take 5 minutes right now. Pause.
Really think on these questions and where you'd like to be involved.
Now take 5 more minutes and do a little research, send an email to ask about volunteering, OFFER to help. I can tell you that those are my favorite messages to receive. When someone has taken the time to reach out and say, hey! I'm here. I am good at ..... and I'd love to help.
2. Roots were put down.
The other thing you'll notice about Charity Water, Rescue:Freedom and even our own story, these are not over night everything happened kind of stories. These are stories of deep roots that are making a big impact through longevity.
I know, longevity does not sound cool or flashy. But without longevity true impact is not possible. Think of it like a savings account. Every month you have that small amount go in. That small amount alone is not able to buy your next car, or finance your next house, or pay for a vacation. It's over time, the investment accruing, the continued act of saving that you're able to do the big things.
Making an impact in your community locally and globally is exactly the same.
It's the accrual of time invested that changes the story.
What does that look like in real life?
- Pick 1 : This is where you're going to put roots down. Sure, you could give a little time or money to lots of different organizations, but when it comes to making a difference quantity matters. It's not necessarily going to be large chunks of time or large sums of money, but when you choose to focus on one thing it allows the investment to accrue in deeper ways then when you spread yourself across multiple areas.
- Stick to It : Hear me out on this! I'm not saying don't do one-off fundraisers - every bit of help makes a difference. But for this to impact your own life and heart, you're going to see the biggest return when you keep on keeping on. Helping, volunteering, donating in that one arena makes your footprint on that issue deeper, and when you can see and feel your footprint your heart will too.
So, can you REALLY make a difference?
You better believe you can!
It's all of us, doing our 1 part, working to love on this world in deeper ways that moves the tide forward.
If you're thinking, hey! I like having friends around our table too...maybe I can host a dinner that makes a difference? Here is our complete How To Guide. And be sure to check out our book, Dinner Changes Everything!
If you're thinking, I'm not necessarily a hostess but I love cooking, check out our Fair Trade Kitchen Shop. Every item in the shop gives freedom and empowers dignified work for women locally and globally.
Let's keep doing our one thing, to help one person. Because that person matters.