Feel Powerless? There’s an Antidote for That

By Paula Fitzsimmons

If your Facebook feed looks anything like mine, it’s a succession of posts bearing bad news for animals and the planet. Images of emaciated polar bears. News that we stand to lose elephants and other species in our lifetime. Systematic animal abuses. Rangers in the Democratic Republic of Congo killed while protecting wildlife . . . and on and on and on.

Ditto for email alerts, Twitter feeds, radio and television – the bad news is everywhere. These stories – especially when served in such high volume – make me feel incredibly sad, angry . . . and powerless. And that’s a terrible place to get stuck at.

I could be wrong here, but I have a feeling you can relate.

As much as I’d like, I won’t be able to save the world, fix every issue, save every animal, fight every fight, donate to every cause, sign every petition. And sorry to break this to you – or perhaps this is welcome news: Likely, neither will you. At least not by yourself. There are just too many issues and not enough time in the day to address each one.

But I have found an antidote to help alleviate at least some of this madness. It’s to choose one or two positive actions, then focus on them like crazy.

I recently volunteered to run an online auction to benefit the Born Free Primate Sanctuary. While the event may end up raising just a few thousand dollars, it will make a difference in the lives of 600 monkeys (and their caregivers) . . . and it sure beats the heck out of spinning my wheels.

Doing something positive, even if seems like a small feat, will not only make you feel better, but will actually accomplish something. A few small, meaningful actions are more potent than a lot of haphazard ones. Now imagine if even just a few hundred of us each did one thing – and did it well.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and powerless, try this: Define the issue you’d like to focus on, then find something positive you can do to enhance that cause. If you’re at a loss as to where to start, here are several ideas to kickstart your imagination.

And since this is a website about animal jobs, several of these activities can be added to your resume, CV, or portfolio.

• Run an online auction. The venue I’m using for the Born Free auction is Bidding Owl – there are no upfront costs to use their services, and minimal fees if the items sell. Bidding Owl is just one of several online auction vendors available.

• Start a fundraising campaign. Crowdfunding and personal fundraising sites such as GofundMe and Razoo can make the process relatively simple.

• Volunteer to write a grant proposal. A smaller rescue or organization with limited funding will likely be unable to afford a professional – so offer to write a grant proposal for them on a volunteer basis. You’ll gain a valuable skill and sample; and the organization will get much-needed funding. Not sure how to write a grant? Community colleges often offer introductory grantwriting courses; or check out my article on finding free and low-cost courses.

Use your skills or learn new ones to help raise much-needed funds for a rescue, sanctuary, conservation, or advocacy group. A lot of nonprofit organizations, especially smaller rescues, are struggling . . . and could really use your help.

• Donate $10 (or more) to the charity of your choice. For no particular reason . . .but just because you care.

• Donate your birthday money. You’ve probably heard stories of kids donating their birthday money to animal causes. What’s to stop you from doing this, too?

• Create a masterpiece. Are you an artist, musician, or author? Create a painting, write a song, pen a book . . . then sell it and donate the proceeds to charity.

• Check nonprofit websites. Go to the website of organizations you like. Many have sections on how you can help raise money specifically for them.

• Meet with your legislators. Make an appointment and meet your representatives in person. This is the most effective way to get their attention.  If you don’t want to go solo, bring a like-minded friend along. Or attend Humane Lobby Day, an annual event sponsored by Humane Society of the United States.

(Please note: Vegan Cuts is an affiliate/sponsor.)

• Start an online petition. Do you want to spread the word about a certain issue? Sites such as Care2 and Change.org offer platforms so you don’t have to do this alone.

• Give your time. Tired of fretting on social media? Why not use that time to donate a few hours a week (or month) to your favorite charity?

• Become a wildlife release site. Some sanctuaries partner with people willing to offer their land as release sites for rehabilitated wildlife. My local center, Four Lakes Wildlife Center has a release site program. Check to see what opportunities are in your own area.

• Become a foster parent. With many shelters filled to capacity and some even having to turn animals away for lack of room and resources, there is a need for caring volunteers to temporarily house different types of animals.

These activities can be done solo . . . or with others. Partner with your significant other, friends, and family for a bonding experience – while making a big difference.

• Become a citizen scientist. With programs such as the Great Backyard Bird Count, the only requirements are a love for birds and minimal time commitment. This annual survey helps scientists at Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society better understand the state of birds.

• Adopt a beach. There’s a lot of trash in our waterways and coastal areas – much of it, including plastic, threatening the lives of sea life. I adopted a beach years ago – every week filling up bags of trash. Check out programs offered by such as Ocean Conservancy and Alliance for the Great Lakes.

Conservancies and parks need loving, too. Small organizations that support area conservancies and nature parks often conduct work days – and they need you.

• Donate your services. Nonprofits often have to pay for services just like any other business. Offering your services for free to  organizations, especially those with tiny budgets, can help defray major costs.

Are you a writer? Offer to edit a newsletter, craft a fundraising letter, or write website copy. If you’re a graphic designer, maybe you can create an eye-catching logo and other images for them. Whether you’re a landscaping expert, accountant, or teacher, you have a skill to offer.

If you’re looking for even more opportunities and ideas, check out VolunteerMatch.org and Idealist.org.

Focusing and being proactive can be difficult, but it’s far more effective – and better for your own well-being – than being reactive. Are there any positive actions you’ve achieved or would like to recommend?


Image credit: Sea turtle 34766345 from Clipart.com.

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