Going the DIY – or Do It Yourself – route is a way to take action in an entrepreneurial way. This might mean starting an organization of your own, launching a new social movement, or even simply creating a new volunteer position at an existing entity. And while the sky is the limit in terms of what you might create for yourself, there are a few strategies you might use to be even more effective.
First, take some time to figure out what it is that you'd like to do. We have a few quizzes and activities for you to use on this site to do just this! Do you want to be behind the scenes? On the front lines? Are you an extrovert or an introvert? Do you want to lead or would you prefer to join a team of peers? Having a good idea of what you'd like to do will get you started on the right path.
Per Idealist.org's Volunteer Resources section, here are some additional things to consider when crafting a new role or project:
- “Ideal outcome: what does a successful project look like?”
- “Skills and resources: is project management, marketing experience or specialized knowledge required? What tools or materials are needed?”
- “Team: can you handle the project on your own, or will you need to recruit volunteers to join you?”
- “Assessment: how will you track progress and measure success?”
- “Long-term: is this a one-off or ongoing project? Who will take on the project should you decide not to continue?”
Once you have a project or role in mind, do a little research to see if it already exists at a nearby (or, via online, far away) organization. Can you join an existing effort? They might be looking for just what you're offering!
If you can't find an existing place to plug in, consider proposing your role or project to an existing organization. Read up on their mission and history, their current programs and services, and see if you can make a case for them to take your project or role on under their umbrella. If you can find a good fit, this is often much preferred to starting a whole new entity; there's a whole lot of overhead and structural work that goes into launching new organizations and that can sometimes keep folks from the frontline work that inspired them in the first place.
Again, from Idealist.org's Volunteer Resources page, here are some tips for connecting with a potential partner organization:
- “Make sure you're fully committed to the project before you approach the organization. Dropping the ball or doing a poor job can result in a damaged reputation for both you and the organization.”
- “Be specific about how your project advances their mission and share your ideas on how to work together.”
- “Talk about the skills, experiences, and connections you are bringing to the table.”
- “Expect some wariness or caution on the part of the organization. If you're approaching them out of the blue, a period of ‘getting to know you' time might be required, if they're open to it. They may not have the capacity or resources to focus on your project.”
If you can't find a partner organization though, think about starting your own. You can be a formal nonprofit, an informal grassroots entity, a social movement without formal structure, a social entrepreneurship or socially-focused business…it's up to you. Talk to others who have created something similar to what you have in mind to learn from their successes (and mistakes). And be prepared that launching your own endeavor will almost certainly take a lot of time, effort, energy, and resources (trust us - we know!) so try to assemble a team of supportive partners and get ready for hard but rewarding work.
Ready to get started? Consider using one of our quizzes or activities to identify how you might most want to participate. You can also learn about key feminist issues on which to take action here. Then, start your research. Use websites like Idealist.org and VolunteerMatch.com to find existing online volunteer opportunities and organizations around the world with whom you might potentially partner.