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Four ways you can make a difference today

There’s only a handful of people who can do what Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have done – pledge their personal billions to solving the world’s problems. But that doesn’t mean the more financially humble among us can’t also make a difference in the world.

As well known cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead wrote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

At ChildFund, we are witness to great acts of this kind every day – we know for a fact that some of the biggest and most significant changes occur when ordinary people dedicate their time, effort and energy to finding a solution. Money alone isn’t always the arbiter of change.

The trickiest part can be knowing where to start. So if you’ve got some ideas, heaps of motivation, and really want to make the world a better place, here are four ways you can get started.

Get informed

It may be obvious, but it’s impossible to do something if you don’t know the issues. With so much information out there, it’s important to be picky about what you consume.

Make a daily habit of looking for news from around the world. The Guardian’s Global Development section, the Reuters Trust Foundation and IRIN provide regular in-depth coverage of the world’s biggest humanitarian stories. The Conversation and Project Syndicate can be good places to find analysis from experts.

Your social media feeds and email inbox can also become sources of news. Follow charities and organisations that focus on issues that interest you and sign up to their newsletters so you never miss a story.

If you really want to know an issue in-depth, a good book can open your eyes in ways other media can’t. Bill Gates, who is now co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, produces an annual list of his favourite books, which usually covers a range of humanitarian issues.

By finding the right sources, you will be better informed and inspired to make a difference.

Share your passion

One of the easiest – and most effective – things you can do is share you passion with the people you know.

If you find something that interests you, share it on your social media networks. Get as many people involved as possible and build support for your cause. Chances are your friends also want to make a difference.

If you want to take it further, you can become an influencer, and build a following for your cause.

Write to your local politicians

Politicians wield influence over how our country responds to issues and can generate more attention for your cause.

Our members of parliament are dealing with many issues and receive lots of correspondence each day, so take a little time to make your letter stand out. Be firm about what you want, but polite and respectful is the best way to get a response.

Here’s a quick guide to writing to your local politicians:

  • Find the contact details of your member of parliament or senator here
  • Use the correct title. You can check how to address MPs, ministers, senators and other positions here
  • Introduce yourself and let them know you are one of their constituents
  • Clearly, concisely state why you are writing to them
  • Use a few paragraphs to expand on your concerns
  • Add a personal story to explain why you are concerned about this issue
  • Tell them what you would like them to do

It could take some time before you hear back. If a month passes and you have not heard anything, it is worth following up with a phone call to remind them about your letter.

Donate your time and energy

Donating your time can be very effective. Grassroots campaigns are always looking for volunteers to bring an issue to the public’s attention.

If you are concerned about global issues and believe the our government should do more to tackle poverty in our region, you can join the Campaign for Australia Aid.

By being part of a grassroots campaign, you will also get the opportunity to meet others who inspire you and introduce you to new ideas.

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