One of the best ways we can feel connected to our local communities and to the world around us is through engagement. This can take many different forms, including doing some volunteer work and making donations or other charitable contributions to causes which matter to us. Spending the time, energy, and funds to do these things truly helps us stay linked to others, but often we get tied up in our own daily lives and lose sight of that fact.
This often happens with military Veterans. Many Veterans constituents who’ve transitioned out of the military face unique social challenges. Studies have shown they are at risk of experiencing isolation and disconnection from the “civilian world” at times. This can lead to undesirable effects on their personal morale and welfare, even leading in some cases to depression. So it’s especially important for Veterans to take part in giving efforts, but how can you engage and inspire them to do so?
Doing great things such as giving back to others has a positive effect on our well being, so one way to inspire others to give is to demonstrate that effect! If there is a charity or cause you’d like to raise participation in, advertise it through flyers, emails, and social media. Explain the problem and the impact that donations have on funding solutions to address it. Show infographics or, when possible, videos featuring the people or places which derive benefit from the help given.
Veterans are highly trained in following procedures and processes. They feel most at ease when they have an understanding of how things work and what the end goal is. So if you’re seeking their involvement in a charitable project, it’s important to take the time to explain clearly what’s going on.
The fastest way to make a Veteran lose interest is to leave details hazy. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recognized this fact when they wrote their Veterans and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA): A Guide for Employers. In it, they specify how “breaking complex assignments into smaller, separate tasks” can assist with comprehension in many cases.
So—do that. Walk them through the mission phases of giving:
who it’s for;
what it’s about;
where the impact will be;
when things will change or improve (or whatever is the objective);
why to do it;
how exactly to do it.
Let’s take a look at an example. Say you want your Veteran constituents to consider giving to a local branch of Habitat for Humanity. You might want to start by talking about Veterans Build, which is one of their initiatives tailored specifically towards helping Veterans, service members, their families. That’s the “who.”
Next, explain “what” Habitat for Humanity does for such persons, such as building “safe, decent, affordable housing” as well as repairing existing homes.
If there’s a specific home or area being focused on, tell “where” that’ll be so they know the impact location. Then give a timeline of “when” things will occur, from start to projected finish.
After that, explain “why” the Veteran’s help is needed and then close with a Call to Action telling them “how” they can get involved right away!