This post was first published on CoveyClub.com
You’re probably reading this post for one of two reasons: 1) You’re offended by the title and clicked, ready for a fight. How dare I insult charity?! And with such a crass word! (If this is you, give me a chance to explain.) Or 2) you agree so deeply with the title that you’re ready to have F*ck Charity, Make Change™ tattooed on your arm. (If this is you, might I suggest starting with temporary ink? Get one of my free fake tattoos here.)
I don’t hate charity. In fact, I love it. Helping others is a part of my DNA. Some people fantasize about being a rock star or an Olympic gold medalist; I dream about being a big-time philanthropist.
What I mean by F*ck Charity, Make Change™ is that when you give your money or time to charity, you’ll help a couple of people, and probably feel pretty good for a day or two. But when you focus your experience, skills, networks, and ideas on helping to solve a social or environmental problem, you can transform your community and your life.
Which would you rather do?
Change happens when people go beyond themselves, when they respond to the pull deep in their hearts to do something about a problem in their communities.
Take my client Susanne, for example. She was volunteering to mentor high school girls in the Bronx when one of Suzanne’s students told her that she had no chance of getting into a college science program because she didn’t have extracurriculars to put on her application. Susanne realized that there was a need for STEM education that wasn’t being met by the schools. Using her experience as a neuroscientist and educator, Susanne launched EDSnaps, a three-week STEM and arts summer program for female-identifying high school students.
If you’re curious about how you can go beyond charity to create change, here are three simple steps to get you started:
1. Pick Your Fight
Close your eyes. Think about all the problems (or opportunities) in your community. Which issue makes you feel the angriest, saddest, most frustrated, happiest, or curious? Put your time, money and energy into that issue or problem. Let someone else worry about the other problems.
2. Put on Your Detective Hat
Learn about your issue from all sides. Talk to experts, watch documentaries, read books, have lunch with people who are on the other side of the issue so that you understand what you are fighting for and who you are fighting against.
3. Find the Market Gap
Don’t reinvent the wheel. Instead of creating another nonprofit that teaches at-risk teens life skills, create a specialty food company that employs returning citizens (people who have been incarcerated) and helps them learn how to run a business.
Kirsten Bunch is an international bestselling author and the creator of The Women’s Changemaker Mentorship. Her new book, Next Act, Give Back: Discover Your Personal Path to Go From Being Charitable to Being a Changemaker is available for pre-order now.