Week 32: DoSomething.Org – Empowering Youth and Young Adults to Get Involved and Get Active (because apathy sucks!)
DoSomething.org is the future of volunteer and activism experiences. The non-profit uses a digital platform to power offline action through hundreds of grass-roots volunteer, social change, awareness and civic action campaigns.
Targeted at ages 13 – 30, the campaigns can be completed by individuals or groups, without any need for transportation, funding by participants, or oversight. Young adults love to get involved and make a difference. They are passionate about causes they identify with. DoSomething.org taps into that potential and makes getting active super easy and super fun, empowering teens and young adults to drive social change.
Participants sign up for a free account and choose from hundreds of current campaigns, a few of which include:
- Creating signs and posting selfies to stand in solidarity with refugees and immigrants
- Making cards to celebrate individuals who do super things in your community
- Running a prom dress/gown drive so everyone can feel their best at prom
- Host a dog wash to collect donated supplies for a local shelter
Even though I fall FAR outside their targeted participant age ;-), I wanted to try it out. So I scrolled through the campaigns and chose one called Mirror Messages, which asks participants to post surprise positive messages in public places (like on bathroom mirrors) to boost others’ self-esteem.
It’s a snap to register for a campaign and you get access to all the step-by-step instructions and suggestions on how to participate. You also can download information about the cause. Once I registered for Mirror Messages, for example, I read through the instructions and FAQs and learned some important stats such as by age 13, 53% of American girls are unhappy with their bodies. By 17, it’s 78%. 1 in 4 boys under the age of 18 experience body dysmorphia (an anxiety disorder that causes a person to have a distorted view of how they look). Poor self-image and unhappiness about appearance can lead to depression and can have a host of other effects.
The campaign goes on to explain that little unexpected moments can have big impact – like complimenting others, or, in this case, leaving surprise sticky notes with encouraging and positive messages where people don’t expect to find them. Basically, I’d be bringing unexpected smiles and positive thoughts to strangers who may need them.
The campaign page explained exactly what I’d need and how to do it and offered creative suggestions for what to write on the notes and where to post them.
Each campaign activity is presented in a super-fun and creative way designed to promote engagement. For example, the ABC Cleanup campaign guides participants to host a park clean-up with friends wearing anything but regular clothes (i.e. wearing an outfit made of trash or costumes, etc.). The Zombie Blood Drive campaign helps you host a blood drive at your school where volunteers decorate the drive area and dress up like zombies to help check in and talk with blood donors.
Some of the campaigns have date spans. Some have deadlines. Participants can win prizes, swag and even scholarships between $1,000 and $5,000 for their efforts.
One you complete a campaign you upload photos onto DoSomething.org’s website to inspire others. You can also scroll through and see other participant photos and get inspired yourself!
Armed with sticky notes and positive messages, I set about leaving them on mirrors in public restrooms at local Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts.
I also decided to kick it up a notch and paint rocks with pretty designs on one side and positive messages on the other, then leave them in places like Barnes & Noble and local libraries.
DoSomething.org works with young people across 131 countries. It’s fun to see posts on activities from around the globe. Their campaigns would be a fantastic way to get classrooms, schools and groups such as sports teams or girl/boy scouts involved. You could easily adapt campaigns to birthday party activities or solo activities. Some of their other campaigns include:
- Write compliments on paper tiaras and distribute around town or in school (anti-bullying)
- Show friends how climate change affects the settings of their favorite books
- Collect food outside your supermarket for a local food bank
- Create and trade 5-minute playlists to help friends take shorter showers (water scarcity project)
DoSomething.org accepts financial donations which are used to fund projects and scholarships.
It was super easy to participate in the Mirror Messages campaign. It was also really fun to do something that felt clandestine and anonymous, and that I knew would bring a smile to the people who found the little treasures I’d left behind! I’m going to adapt a few campaigns to do with my 4-year old grandson. I think anyone looking to involve children or young adults in social, civic, awareness or volunteer activities should check out DoSomething.org!
To learn more about DoSomething.org or to check out all the cool campaigns, visit their website at: https://www.dosomething.org/us