Advocacy Apathy


Family at MS Walk

Working in the world of advocacy, we spend a great deal of time figuring out how to convince others to support a cause in one way or another.

We know the compelling verbiage that inspires others to donate, or join an initiative, or contact legislators. It’s what we do – it’s our job to get people to take action for any of the myriad issues facing our society.

But we don’t always practice what we preach.

Many of us spend far less time and money on advocacy than we’d care to admit. But it’s never too late to change that fact.

I know, because until very recently I was advocacy-apathetic too.

Finding a Cause that Matters to You

The hardest part is finding a cause that makes you want to be an advocate. There is no one-size-fits-all cause, and you won’t regularly volunteer or donate for a cause you don’t care about.

I found my cause a couple of months ago when my sister was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis (MS).

Advocating for a cause you care about doesn’t mean you have to change the world. You just have to do something. Everyone can do something.

MS is a disease that causes the immune system to attack the central nervous system. There is currently no cure for MS, and it can affect all aspects of daily life. My sister is only 26 and now has a life of impaired mobility and progressive nerve degeneration ahead of her. Her diagnoses was a wakeup call for me, and I wanted to do everything in my power to find a cure.

Finding your cause doesn’t have to take such a cataclysmic event, however. Think about the things you find important – supporting veterans initiatives, eradicating food deserts, mentoring children – and look for ways you can get involved. Each cause offers unique ways to make a change, and with a little research, you can pinpoint the opportunities that are the best fit for you.

Getting Involved

After my sister’s diagnosis, I searched for volunteer opportunities with the National MS Society. I discovered that they host walks across the country to fundraise and raise awareness for MS, and they were coming to DC this spring. I knew that walking three miles along the National Mall would not cure my sister’s disease, but the money every team raised for the walk would help fund research and clinical trials. It didn’t feel like much, but it was more than nothing.

I am not a doctor. I can’t find a cure for my sister. But I can walk. I can walk to raise awareness for my sister and for all those living with MS.

Advocating for a cause you care about doesn’t mean you have to change the world. You just have to do something. Everyone can do something.

MS Walk on National Mall in DC

Staying Involved

My support for the National MS Society started small – with a $20 donation and a few hours of my time one Sunday morning – but it is far from over because MS didn’t end at the finish line.

Staying involved is a critical step in this process because change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time, and lots of people taking action. Volunteering your time, or money, or skills, or voice only one time won’t cut it if you want to see change come to fruition.

The truth is, staying actively involved with a cause is hard, but it’s worth it. Your efforts may seem small, but they are integral to the long-term success of your advocacy community.

You may even inspire others to do the same.

Thanks for reading!

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