How you can get involved in advocacy work surrounding important causes like food allergies and celiac disease? Generally, a person’s first thought always jumps to making a financial donation. While that is extremely helpful, of course, there are other ways to offer assistance that are equally as important and often overlooked. Sharing information, becoming more knowledgeable on the topic, and getting involved in advocacy are as important to nonprofits as financial donations are. 

Tune in online. 

The easiest way to get involved in advocacy is through social media. Follow social media accounts that are associated with food allergies, celiac disease, hunger, and food is medicine. This is a great way to increase your knowledge on the topics and stay up to date. These accounts will post information on how to get involved and ways to take part in advocacy. You can share these posts with your network, interact with them to boost their visibility, and ask questions you have; you never know where questions will lead, they may spark important conversations. 

Another thing to keep your eye out for on social media is social media challenges and hashtags to help promote the cause. Social media challenges are a fun, interactive, and approachable way to get involved without requiring too much commitment or time. This is a good way for beginners to start their advocacy work. Be sure to use the organization or movement’s hashtag to boost visibility of the cause. 

Here are some hashtags Food Equality Initiative has used:

#foodismedicineday #foodismedicine #freefrom

Sharing posts and stories help others in your personal community become aware of the issues that these movements are based on. Simply helping others become aware of these issues and organizations, can directly lead to more donations and more volunteers. 

Reading the information that these organizations post is one of the best ways to educate yourself on the needs of the community. The more you know about a movement, the more of an impact you can have. Don’t be afraid to do your own research and educate yourself further. The more you know, the more confident you will feel about educating others on how they can help. 

Volunteer.

Perhaps you feel that you want to have a more physical impact. Volunteering for a local nonprofit associated with hunger awareness is a great way to get involved. Any help you can give is meaningful, so do not let the thought of only being able to contribute a couple of hours a month deter you. This can be anything from putting in some time at the local food pantry to serving on the board of directors for an organization. 

Often people believe that being on the board of directors requires you to be a successful business professional, but that isn’t always the case. Boards are looking for new perspectives and different ideas, so having a diverse board, economically and socially, allows those new viewpoints to come to light. However, there may be some other requirements. For example, some boards have financial donation requirements to be a member of the board while others, especially new organizations, are simply looking for people willing to be a part of a working board to contribute their time and brainpower. It never hurts to contact them and ask.

Nonprofit organizations, like Food Equality Initiative, rely on their volunteers to help them make a meaningful impact in their community. Do not be afraid to reach out to the organization if you are unsure of how to get involved or are wondering what volunteering would look like. If they don’t currently need volunteers, just check with another local organization and see what you can do to help. 

In-kind donations.

Another, often neglected, but very important way to get involved is through in-kind donations. In-kind donations are contributions of goods or services other than money or grants. For some, this can be donations of items such as computers or office equipment. For others, it may be someone donating time and skills to fulfill a need, like web developing or writing for a magazine like Free-From Magazine. Similar to basic volunteering, reaching out to the organization and asking if there is any way to help is usually the best route to see what is needed. Do not be afraid to ask!

Money is always welcome.

It may be cliche, but financial donations are always welcome at nonprofits. When you donate money, you are showing that you believe in a cause and trust the organization to do something about it. If you find you have some extra cash at the end of each month, consider becoming a monthly donor (this is easy to set up online). Here is where you can donate to Food Equality Initiative.

Being flexible with your giving is key.

Becoming involved in advocacy can boil down to becoming more knowledgeable, sharing that knowledge, and applying it to flexible volunteer opportunities. Similar to donating money, a small action like volunteering or sharing information can have a major impact on the local community. 

Do not be afraid to ask nonprofits and other organizations supporting these causes how you can help. They may say a simple donation is best or maybe you have some services you can provide. Whatever time or money you can contribute to these causes can help improve the lives of others. Even small actions like sharing social media posts can have an impact. 

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