Volunteering can be a powerful force for change, and your volunteer work and everyday advocacy can make a big difference for marginalized groups, including Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC); lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) people; people with disabilities; and others. The time and talent you give to various organizations and efforts can help make the world a bit more inclusive and fairer for all.
There are many organizations that work hard every day to address issues of inequality and inequity. Each organization typically works on issues of concern to a specific group of people. For example, the NAACP works equality for Black people, the Human Rights Campaign targets issues of concern to the LGBTQ community, and the National Organization on Disability works to make the world fairer for people with disabilities. The Equal Justice Initiative publishes a state-by-state list of volunteer opportunities to help end inequality in the justice system. Some organizations, like the American Civil Liberties Union and work on more broad-based issues. Check their websites for volunteer opportunities. In cases where these organizations have state or local chapters, look at getting involved and also follow them on their social media channels. And don't forget to visit www.createthegood.org for volunteer opportunities that support marginalized groups.
Often, the issues facing marginalized groups are complicated and the best way to use your volunteerism and voice to help might not be immediately clear. Read about the work that various groups are doing to promote equity and equality as well as the history and circumstances that created the issues in the first place. Some of these organizations may have recommended reading lists, or your local librarian may be able to help you find some books to get started. For more information about LGBTQ issues, visit this timeline or try this collection of books.
Every day, you make decisions about the businesses from which you buy goods and services. Seek out and support BIPOC-owned businesses, LGBTQ-owned businesses, and businesses owned by people with disabilities. In doing so, you’re making simple shifts to promote economic equality. In addition to finding options through your local business groups, like the Chamber of Commerce, the U.S. Small Business Administration publishes a database of minority-, women-, economically disadvantaged-, and other certified businesses. You can also contact the SBA's Network for LGBT Businesses at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you see that the groups with which you’re involved aren’t as diverse and inclusive as they should be, work for change. When you bring more diverse voices to the table, you spark new ideas and insights that can make your organization better able to serve the community. Build relationships with other nonprofits, churches, community groups, and associations that have diverse membership and volunteer bases and work to ensure your volunteer engagement is inclusive. Work with community leaders to reach new volunteer pools. Diversity and inclusion training for nonprofits may also be a good idea to ensure that your organization is welcoming to new voices.