Sam is a 15-year-old from Montgomery, NJ. She enjoys playing tennis, writing and Community Service. Her favorite subject in school is History.
I work as a member of Interact, my school’s community service club, where we do everything from drives to babysitting. My friends and I participate in activities together, and we are really passionate about what we do.
Unfortunately, not everyone in my school (or most teens for this matter) feels this way. Most people turn a cold shoulder to us when we try to encourage others to donate or help out. “Getting involved” is now synonymous with paying 50 cents to the school organization for a thick, chocolaty brownie or sugary cookie. Nowadays, it seems that teens don’t really think about charity without thinking: “What’s in it for me?”
If you feel like community service in your school could be improved, you’re not sure how to get your message across or you just want to get more involved in charities, don’t worry! The guide below will give you some tips on how to first formulate an idea, find a cause, and eventually get everyone in your school involved with it. Here are some steps if you are looking for some new community service ideas and projects!
Step 1: Know Your Interests and Personal Experiences
Most community service groups and non-profit organizations started off as a single idea. Your project can, too! One of best ways to do this is to make three, somewhat brief, lists: Personal Interests, Charity Interests, and Personal Experiences. This way, you could narrow down your choices and figure what YOU want to bring awareness to. Also, be sure to have a top 5 choices list in the event that your first project isn’t approved
Personal Interests: This list is, more or less, things you like to do. If you aren’t sure if there are charities that support your interests (i.e. a sports or shopping based charity) , don’t be afraid to Google it or ask around
Charity Interests: This list consists of either charities you’ve associated with before (and loved), or categories of charities that interest you (food, children, elderly, etc.)
Personal Experiences: This list is more personal and would pertain to events that have happened to you or a loved one. For example, if a relative or friend passed away from cancer, you can research charities that focus on certain cancers.
Step 2: Explain and Prepare Your Idea
Now that you have chosen an organization, the best way to get yourself out there is to tell people! Go to your school’s charity or community service club or even to your school’s guidance office. Show all of your research and find reasons why this charity should be supported. If you don’t feel comfortable with formally presenting your idea to a group of people, either deliver it in writing, or (if there is one available) to a suggestion box. It’s most likely that your school’s club will, if not use it, definitely consider it to be a project.
That being said, if your project s approved, be prepared to create ideas for budgeting, schedules, and other aspects that could make your project a success.
Step 3: Image
From personal experience, as superficial as it may sound, image is a crucial aspect when it comes to putting your project together. (Why do you think successful products have celebrity endorsements?) Here, you might need a local “celebrity” to advertise and support your cause, whether it is the captain of the football team or the prettiest girl in school, or even a well-respected adult in your community. Again, don’t be afraid to ask. (A big tip: While this method might work, always be prepared for the inevitable “What’s in it for me?”)
However, if you’re working on a limited amount of time, or things just don’t pan out, don’t worry. You can also endorse your own project. The best way to do this is to be yourself! Make an ad for your school’s TV production or post flyers around the school. Whatever you do, make sure you get your image out there!
Step 4: Presentation
This is the final stage in completing a successful charity project; where all your hard work will pay off! You may feel a little nerve-wracked at first, but with a few tips below:
- Don’t be afraid to stand out from your co-workers. For example, if you have to wear a uniform), don’t be afraid to accessorize or style it up. This shows that you’re a personable professional, not a professional person, which is key in getting more of your classmates to be involved in your cause.
- NEVER be overly pushy with people. This means no begging, bribing, or pleading. Also, guilt tripping (i.e. “Think about the children…”) doesn’t always work. In fact, any of these tactics will only drive others away. The best way to avoid this is to rotate shifts or divide where people will ask for donations
- Be confident in your project!