Get Involved. Take Action. Make a Difference
Jana’s Campaign encourages you and thousands of other ordinary citizens to get involved, take action, and make a difference in reducing gender and relationship violence. Below we have listed five areas of volunteerism. We ask you to find your place.
Community Tool Box
In partnership with Jana’s Campaign, the University of Kansas’ Community Tool Box provides us with the support and direction we need to be active change agents in our communities. Below is important information from the Community Tool Box to help guide our volunteer work. The purpose of the Community Tool Box is to help people build capacity that will lead to positive change and community improvement. The Community Tool Box connects people, ideas, and resources.
Advocate for Change
Advocating for change involves monitoring key policy issues, disseminating information, coordinating communications, and mobilizing others around domestic violence issues. You may work directly with a local coalition or organization to do, or you can start your own grassroots effort. Advocating is essential for drawing light to an issue and getting laws changed.
Here are some things you can do to help change laws in your city, state, region, and country:
Act as a watchdog:
A watchdog individual or organization serves to protect a community and its members. By gathering and publicizing information and – sometimes – taking direct action (see Conducting a Direct Action Campaign), it can expose and address issues related to the public interest. For more information, see Acting as a Watchdog, and Seeking Enforcement of Existing Laws or Policies.
Court monitoring is an important ‘check’ in the legal system to ensure courts are held accountable for their actions and decisions. Maintaining a public presence during hearings allows for this to happen. Court monitors are specially trained volunteers that attend hearings, record the results, and make them available to the public. This program increases awareness in the community about domestic violence/ sexual assault issues and pushes for change in legislation. Here are some resources to help get you started volunteering or as a court monitor or to help you start a court monitoring system in your community:
WATCH Website – Bringing a public eye to justice
Develop a plan to get issues on the public agenda:
The local agenda refers to whatever a community sees as necessary to address. You’ll want to educate people about the issue and generate local concern to influence public opinion and ultimately make it easier to affect policy. Here are some related tools from the Community Tool Box (a free resource for supporting community work):
Advocating for Change
Influencing Policy Development
Developing a Plan for Getting Community Health and Development Issues on the Public Agenda
Gaining Public Support for Addressing Community Health and Development Issues
Lobby and contact public officials: Lobbying is a very important way to get legislators attention. It is so vital, that people are even professional lobbyists and do that full time. Lobbying is a very important part of volunteering and changing legislation in the domestic violence field. Contacting officials is important. The more letters, phone calls, emails, and faxes that legislators receive, the more they are going to pay attention to an issue. In order to lobby successfully, you must get the media involved. Legislators are sensitive to how media portrays them and if they see that people are calling them out for not paying enough attention to an issue, they will most definitely take notice. Public interest must be stressed when lobbying. If people do not feel that they are being represented in an issue, then they will not care as much about it. Domestic violence affects people from all walks of life… different genders, ethnicities, socioeconomic classes, sexual orientations, etc. For more, see: Writing Letters to Elected Officials and Using Personal Testimony.
Meet with legislators:
Meeting with the actual legislators and/or their staff is also important. If you do land a meeting with a legislator or even their staff, make sure to be well prepared, dressed appropriately, and be concise. These people are extremely busy so a powerful and concise yet ‘short’ presentation will be the most beneficial for a first meeting. You can also attend one of their public functions or invite them to visit the organization you are working with. For more, see: General Rules for Organizing Legislative Advocacy and Developing and Maintaining Ongoing Relationships with Legislators and their Aides.
Engage the media:
Encourage the media to cover and report on issues of violence against women, and create your own media! For how-to information, see Preparing Guest Columns and Editorials, Preparing Press Releases, Arranging a Press Conference, and Electronic Advocacy.
To learn more about domestic violence laws and get involved:
Legal Momentum – The Women’s Legal Defense and Education Fund: Legal Momentum is the nation’s oldest legal defense and education fund dedicated to advancing the rights of all women and girls. For more than 40 years, Legal Momentum has made historic contributions through litigation and public policy advocacy to advance economic and personal security for women. Legal Momentum envisions a society in which all women and girls are economically secure, empowered to make their own choices, and can live and work free of discrimination and violence. In this society, all women enjoy the conditions, opportunities, and support that enable them to realize their human rights and freedoms.
Women’s Law was founded to help survivors of domestic violence, and provides state-specific legal information and resources for survivors.
The United States Department of Justice – Office on Violence Against Women provides federal leadership in developing the nation’s capacity to reduce violence against women and administer justice for and strengthen services to victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking.
The National Network to End Domestic Violence is a social change organization dedicated to creating a social, political and economic environment in which violence against women no longer exists. They release a Domestic Violence Counts report and have various supports for taking legislative action.
The National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence designs, provides, and customizes training and consultation, influences policy, promotes collaboration, and enhances diversity with the goal of ending domestic and sexual violence.
The Community Tool Box provides free how-to resources for mobilizing to bring about change and improvement.
Fundraising is a critical process for many non-profit organizations; in the domestic violence field, funds are often used to help an organization fulfill its mission and provide services in the community. As a volunteer, participating in and leading efforts to raise funds can be a fundamental way to support this work.
Fundraising can be fun, and can help raise awareness about the issues, too! There are all types of ways you can raise money for domestic violence. It is best to start with a clear goal of how much money you want to raise. Early planning is key, especially for bigger events; and the bigger the event, the more money you are apt to raise! You should check early on in your planning process to ensure that your event does not conflict with other events that may be going on in your community. And of course, get the word out to everyone, especially the demographics you are most interested in reaching.
Here are some ideas to help get you started, but don’t limit yourself to only these examples!
A simple yet effective way you can make a huge difference is to donate money! Most organizations and shelters fighting domestic violence are non-profits and raise a lot of their money through donations. There are thousands of organizations out there to choose from, and any donations made to non-profits are tax-deductible. Whether you choose to donate to a local shelter, a state-wide organization, or even national or international organizations, you will be doing a great deed just by giving whatever you can!
A good way to reach many people is to have a donation drive. Donation ‘boxes’ are set up in different places around your community where people can drop off much-needed items. These items go directly to shelters and to those in need. You can coordinate with local businesses and schools to place the drop-boxes, and then make sure to pick up the items regularly and stay in contact with the places that are generously lending space for a drop-off location. Some places are even willing to encourage their employees or students to get involved! Items that shelters always need are clothing (even underwear, bras, and socks), shoes, non-perishable food, gift cards for supplies, kids’ toys, bedding and pillows, cell phones, appliances, cook ware, books, magazines, personal hygiene items, furniture, school supplies, formula, baby food, diapers, etc. Get in contact with your local shelter to see what they are in need of the most.
The 5K is becoming an increasingly popular event. Many organizations use the 5K as a fun way to get people of all ages involved while promoting health. A 5K has the potential to raise some serious money for your organization. It is important to do research beforehand so you know how to go about planning the event. Talk with your local entities first to see if there are any 5Ks going on in your community that already benefit the domestic violence movement. You may choose to join an existing event and help with that, or you can start your own.
Having a yard sale is a fairly easy, yet effective way to raise money. Ask your community members and people you know to drop off items at a designated location to be sold at the yard sale. Make sure they (and the people attending the yard sale) know that 100% of the funds will go towards funding your local shelter or whichever organization you choose to give the money to. People are more apt to donate if they know their money is going towards a good cause and what specific organization it is going to. At the yard sale, you can also have a table set up accepting donations and providing information about domestic violence services, statistics, ways to help, and more.
You can organize a competitive but fun tournament where all the proceeds go directly to the cause. Some very popular tournaments include golf, basketball, bowling, and poker. There are many more, but these are the ones ‘trending’ right now.
Getting the arts involved is a great way to reach many demographics. Talk to local artists about performing in 30 minute segments to get a wide range of genres. Most musicians are happy to play for a great cause.
This is an easy and fun way to raise money and raise public awareness. People pay about $10 these days for an automatic car wash anyway, so why not let that money go towards the common good?
Who doesn’t love dessert? Get a few friends together, bake some treats, and sell them at a bake sale. You can also get a lot of people to donate their time by making desserts, so make sure to ask for help!
Donation Letter Drive:
Organize a night where people all meet up with approximately 50 names and addresses each. Send out letters with details about the organization or cause you are benefiting, and also asking for donations. This is an easy way to reach many people.
Designing and Implementing a Fund-raiser
Tools for Planning a Fund-raiser/Community Event
Developing Creative Promotions
Education and Prevention
Prevention is essential to breaking the cycle of domestic violence. Starting with youth is important. Children that are abused, neglected, or watch a parent endure abuse are at risk to experience violence as an adult. Training programs, presentations, and seminars that are specifically geared towards education and prevention are available for community members, volunteers, community groups, schools and universities, faith-based groups, work places, health care providers, and legal personnel.
Here are some ideas of things you can do to get involved with education and prevention within domestic violence:
Speak with young kids/adults:
Speaking to young kids and young adults is a crucial part of education and prevention of domestic violence. Instilling values and respect for people is important to both a child’s and a young adult’s development. There are many ways you can speak with people about domestic violence. A lot of schools and teachers are willing to let trained professional and people who work in the field give presentations about domestic violence. Also, different organizations like Girl/Boy Scouts, 4H, high school clubs, etc. actively seek out educational presenters. Even if you aren’t trained or working in the field now, you can help organize small and large presentations by contacting local people such as but not limited to: people who work in the shelters, police officers, county attorneys, lawyers, volunteers, etc.
Start a program at work or at school:
Intimate partner violence is not something that just happens at home. It can happen in school, at work, and sometimes even in public. Employers and school officials should be looking for issues of domestic violence/sexual assault and addressing them immediately. Many employers and schools have created specific policies and guidelines to prevent intimate partner violence and sexual assault in the workplace.
Create organization on campus or at a high school (and even with younger kids):
Creating an organization where you go to school is one way to get involved and make a lasting impact on your community. If your school does not already have a group or organization that is dedicated to the domestic violence cause, consider starting one. If you are starting one at your high school, you must get approval from your principal and possibly your superintendent and/or school board. It also is important to have your sponsor selected beforehand. Universities and college have more stringent requirements for starting an organization. Most schools require an application with supporting information such as the name and address, type of organization, location of funds, name of advisor, contact information of the president and treasurer, and so on. You want to have a statement of purpose and why your school needs the organization. Also, most schools require a constitution and the by-laws.
Here are some organizations you can get involved with, or you can use these ideas to brainstorm and start your own program.
The Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence is an organization who helps employers and employees start a DV/SA program in their workplace. They have articles and tools you can utilize for categories such as workplace violence, domestic violence 101, employee education, safety and support, creating policies/plans, workplace security, employees who batter, and dating violence.
Say NO- UNiTE to End Violence against Women is a social mobilization platform on ending violence against women and girls, contributing towards UN Secretary General’s system -wide campaign, UNiTE to End Violence against Women. Launched in November 2009 by UN Women, Say NO – UNiTE showcases advocacy efforts and engages people from all walks of life, online and on the ground.
Futures Without Violence Everyone has the right to live free of violence. Futures Without Violence, formerly Family Violence Prevention Fund, works to prevent and end violence against women and children around the world.
Break the Cycle believes everyone has the right to safe and healthy relationships. They are the leading, national nonprofit organization addressing teen dating violence. They work every day towards their mission to engage, educate and empower youth to build lives and communities free from domestic violence.
Corporate Alliance to End Partner Violence – Articles
Implementing a Workplace Domestic Violence Program
It is important to speak out about domestic violence. Speaking out dispels myths and provides the public and the media with the facts about domestic violence. Domestic violence too often goes unnoticed; a silent crime. Having the public be aware about problems in their communities, state, nation, and world is important to gaining support, followers, and actually getting public policies changed.
Here are some organizations you can get involved with or help bring to your community, but there are many, many more. You can work with a local shelter, local civic group, university entity, etc. to start an already-established organization or event in your community. Some are free to start up and some require a fee.
Clothes Line Project: The Clothesline Project (CLP) is a vehicle for women affected by violence to express their emotions by decorating a shirt. They then hang the shirt on a clothesline to be viewed by others as testimony to the problem of violence against women. With the support of many, it has since spread world-wide.
Empty Place at the Table: This exhibit demonstrates the devastating result of violence against women and children and helps ensure that these deaths are not forgotten. In a most poignant and visual manner, the exhibit reveals how domestic violence undeniably leaves an empty place at the table.
Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: Frank Baird created Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® in 2001. What started out as a small group of men daring to totter around a park has grown to become a world-wide movement with tens of thousands of men raising millions of dollars for local rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters and other sexualized violence education, prevention and remediation programs.
Silent Witness: This program aims to end the silence about domestic violence and bring successful programs to every state. Their mission is to promote peace, healing, and responsibility in adult relationships in order to eliminate domestic murders in the United States (by 2010). Their message is one of hope, help and healing for the victims and perpetrators of domestic violence. See Implementing Photovoice in Your Community for more resources on how to give a voice to victims of domestic violence.
There are many ways to raise public awareness about domestic violence:
Start a conversation:
Having conversations about domestic violence will be one of the most important tools to public awareness. Sounds scary, huh? We must have these conversations in order to change the world. Whether it is talking with a friend or classmate, putting a few fliers up to start an informal group, talking over dinner with your family… all aspects of these issues are important. Think about how many people you can reach this way: If you know 50 people (which you probably know many more) that know 50 people… that is 2,500 just right there! Talking to people in a way that is engaging and calls for action will really get people fired up about what you’re talking about and think to themselves, “Hey, I didn’t know that and I think this is really important information that many other people should know!” For more resources on starting a conversation in your community, see Conducting Focus Groups and Organizing Study Circles.
Present at a local civic club:
Local civic groups make awesome partners in the push to end DV and spread awareness. Team up with domestic violence advocates and your local shelter to organize a presentation. Talk to a civic group that you’re already a member of or one you believe would make a great partner. In addition, many people who organize the meetings are actively seeking out presenters. It is also a great resource for community members so they can learn about domestic violence and become actively engaged in a thoughtful conversation. Presenters can include trained professionals, volunteers that work at a shelter, domestic violence advocates, teachers who are knowledgeable about the issue, and more. For resources to help you get started on a presentation, see Making Community Presentations.
Sign a pledge:
Creating a pledge is one of the easiest ways to create public awareness about an issue. Explaining the issue to people and having them sign a pledge stating that they support the anti- domestic violence movement, will also create public awareness; whatever it is, will give people ownership in this issue and make them feel more inspired and motivated to get involved while creating that public awareness. It is grassroots campaigns like this that really get the ball rolling.
Share materials to promote interest: Working again with domestic violence advocates and your local shelter, distribute domestic violence materials around the community. These materials include contact information for local shelters, how to obtain help if you are a victim of domestic violence, how you can help a friend or family member, and more. There are many places one can distribute materials such as community bulletin boards, churches, local stores, to people you know, schools, and many more. Be creative! Here are some related tools from the Community Tool Box (a free resource for supporting community work):
Preparing Press Releases
Arranging News and Features Stories
Preparing Guest Columns and Editorials
Arranging a Press Conference
Creating Posters and Flyers
Creating Fact Sheets on Local Issues
Creating a Website
Using E-mail Lists
Increasing Participation and Membership
Troubleshooting Guide: There is not enough community participation
Involving Key Influentials in the Initiative
Domestic Abuse Helpline Services or their phone # 1-888-7HELPLINE
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence 1.303.839.1852 or 1.303.839.1681 click on “Resources” then “State Coalition”
The National Center for Victims of Crime
National Online Resource Center on Violence Against Women
Domestic Violence Facts
Eleven Hundred Torches – Jana’s Call for Action
Developing a Plan for Getting Community Health and Development Issues on the Local Agenda
Direct Services Volunteer
Victim services are direct services for victims of domestic violence that promote the rights of victims, prevent violence, and provide support. Shelters often require some type of training to work with victims directly. Every shelter is different so you will have to contact your local shelter(s). Victim services are essential to the victims of these crimes.
Here are some organizations to get involved with if you are interested in working directly with victims of domestic violence:
“Tie your Talents”:
Professional volunteering is an excellent way to help victims of abuse. What are you good at? If you are a student that excels in a certain subject you can help tutor kids or women going back to school for their degrees. If you are a lawyer you can provide free legal counsel to victims of abuse. A lot of cosmetologists have started getting involved by providing free haircuts, waxes, or manicures/pedicures once a month at domestic violence shelters. If you are a child care provider or are experienced in child care, you can provide your services to these victims for free. A lot of families impacted by domestic violence have pets. When families are torn apart there is nowhere for their beloved animals to go unless the shelter will allow them. You can offer to foster the pet or help find a permanent home. No matter what is it you are good at, there is a way that you can tie your talents to helping a domestic violence victim! Visit Women’s Law – Helping Others to learn more about using your talents to help others.
Volunteer at a shelter:
Most shelters are in need of help.
If you volunteer, confidentiality is a huge part of your responsibility. Most women at the shelter will be ashamed or embarrassed about their situation and need to be as comfortable as possible. Also, breaching confidentiality could result in their abusers finding out where they are or other people getting hurt.
Contact your local United Way or volunteer agency to find out how to help: United Way 211
If you want to directly work with victims, most shelters require that you have some type of training. You can call your local shelter to find out what they require. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has a list of state agencies to help victims and advocates connect to over 2000 programs. These agencies can also tell you where you can receive specialized training if the shelter(s) in your area requires it. Here are some resources to help get you started volunteering:
Women’s Law – Advocates
State Coalition List
CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocate. This organization is dedicated to advocating for abused and neglected children, many of whom may witness and/or experience domestic violence in their homes. CASA volunteers are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system. Volunteers stay with each case until it is closed and the child is placed in a safe, permanent home (CASA for Children, 2011).
To volunteer: CASA for Children – Volunteering
Safe Horizon is the largest provider of domestic violence services in the country. Collaborating with the criminal justice system, Safe Horizon offers innovative programs that provide affected individuals and families with support throughout the complex process of leaving violent relationships and building safe futures.