Five Tips for Fostering Advocacy and Philanthropy in Girls

When youth are involved in community action, they experience a multitude of social-emotional benefits. These include an improvement in their interpersonal skills, attitude towards work and school, critical thinking skills, sense of self, ability to work with a team, and communication skills. Participation in advocacy work may also foster a sense of accomplishment and leadership in young people. This is especially true of girls, 91% of whom list “being able to help others” as one of the most important qualities in a leader.


While the importance of community leadership in girls is apparent, it may be difficult to determine the best way to begin involving them in advocacy work. GENaustin has developed the following list of tips to help adults cultivate enthusiasm for advocacy and philanthropy in that special girl in their lives:


1. Educate her about social issues. The first step in community advocacy is being aware of your community’s needs. Having an open dialogue with the girls in your life on a variety of topics will educate them about injustices and inequalities that they may not be aware of. If she points out something that seems unfair, unequal, or oppressive, connect her to more information about the topic and tie it to larger issues to demonstrate its importance.


2. Identify her passions. If she demonstrates interest in a cause, encourage her to seek out more information. Help her to explore different causes and see what sparks her curiosity. If she has existing interests or passions, think about how they relate to causes, campaigns, issues, or agencies in her community. Since GENaustin’s Strong, Bold, and Assertive summer camp culminates in a community advocacy project, it could be a safe space for her to navigate her philanthropic interests.


3. Apply her time, talent, or treasure to a cause. The three methods of philanthropic giving are time, talent, and treasure. Brainstorm ways that she can apply one or more of these methods to a cause she feels passionately about. If she wants to donate her time, encourage her to volunteer by connecting her to local organizations. If she has a special talent or skill, help her figure out a way to use her talent to help others through teaching, creating, or direct service. If she wants to donate her ‘treasure’, help her come up with a way to raise money or coordinate a donation drive for an organization in need. The upcoming city-wide Amplify Austin giving campaign could be the perfect opportunity for her to make the biggest financial impact on her favorite local organization.


4. Encourage her to lead the way. If she wants to become more involved with advocacy, encourage her to be a leader in her community. She can start a club at her school or take on leadership roles in an existing club. If she enjoys expressing herself through writing, she can write an article in her school newspaper, publish a blog post, or organize a letter-writing campaign.


5. Teach her about careers in social justice. If she has been passionate enough about one or more causes to want to stick with it long-term, inform her about careers that contribute to the common good. She may want to pursue an internship or summer job at a local non-profit, governmental organization, or socially conscious company to test the waters. If she wants to hear from female leaders involved in community agencies and learn valuable professional skills, consider signing her up for GEN’s Pathfinder program.


No matter what girl’s age, interests, or involvement, there are always ways that she can get more engaged in her community. For a younger girl, you may want to consult this article’s suggestions for social justice activities according to her learning style. If she wants to advocate for girls, she can request this Girl Action Kit about body positivity, follow these recommendations for improving media representations of girls, or pick one of these creative fundraising ideas to support the organization of her choice. She can customize her advocacy work through her cause and actions to be as GENuinely unique as she is.

Vanessa Wright