While the goal of any good activism campaign is both to get people to care about the cause and get them to take action, doing both is harder than it seems.
This is often because the way in which we present our cause provokes either an emotional response or direct action from the average person, but lacks a connection between the two. So how can we fix that?
The first step in connecting with people emotionally is to present the cause in a personal context. The Human Wrong Initiative uses story cards—among other techniques—to make the cause more personal. By reading real stories of children who were victims of human trafficking and slavery, we feel a closeness and empathy that is unparalleled by a mere statistical statement.
If personal stories are not available or applicable to your topic, visual aids like movies and pictures also help to put a face to a cause. Although the average student doesn’t have to confront these issues every day, something as simple as putting a face or voice to a cause can inspire a desire to help.
As important as awareness is, it can be tempting to stop there and call it a day. However, without an outlet for their sentiments, people quickly forget who they were supposed to be caring about and go right back into their daily routines.
The next step is to prompt people to take action in a practical, accessible way. Some easy ways are to ask for donations (if this is applicable), signatures on petitions, or letters to government officials. These things can be done on the spot and are easily incorporated into the first step mentioned above.
However, alone these examples won’t create sustainable interest. One way to keep people involved is to publically update them on the cause’s progress in the school paper or advertising media. Letting them know that the issue hasn’t been resolved and requires continued attention will keep it fresh in people’s minds and generate more participation in your next event.
Don’t forget to let people know that their individual efforts are significant to the success of the cause. If people don’t understand that their individual actions make a difference, they are unlikely to participate, thinking that someone else will do it instead. Using statistics here, such as the cost of a meal or a mosquito net ($6), can be very effective.
An example of an event that publicizes itself in a way that promotes caring and action is Love 146. Their site has great pictures, videos, and articles that help to tell their story. They also have direct instructions on how you can help to combat child sex slavery and exploitation, and they provide great information on where your donations are going.
Want to really make a difference for your cause? Mixing passion with action is the best way to ignite a movement of activists.