I thought a discussion about making a difference would be a perfect follow-up to a post on Documentaries and Tough Issues. Most people leave documentaries going "now what?". Here are 5 ways to kick Helplessness feelings to the curb.
1. Go Micro
Chances are there is an organization (or more) working on that issue that you just learned about. If not, there is someone out there working on a related issue in your community. Small non-profits often not only welcome monetary donations, but your time and talents as well. Do Something.org is an excellent organization that can help you identify local organizations and ways in which you can make a difference at the micro-level. Google works too.
2. Put Pressure on Elected Officials (with the power of the pen...or the keyboard)
Some issues require changes at the policy level. This one may not feel as concrete as the first, but is effective, especially when your voice is added to a multitude of others. ONE is a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization that encourages its members to write to elected officials to get laws changed or put into place. You can see here what they've already accomplished through putting pressure on elected officials.
3. Encourage Economic Growth by giving an entrepreneur a loan
In a way, this is also a micro-change. You may not be changing a country, but you will be changing the destiny of one family, one community, one region. Learn about Kiva.
4. Get Your Hands dirty
Help build a house for a family in the United States. Check out Habitat for Humanity. Go help a non-profit with your talents outside of the United States. Check out Idealist.org.
5. Help someone turn their creative dream into a reality
Crowdfunding. Less red tape. Supporting people in whom you believe. Kickstarter. Check it. Sponsume. Spend time there.
These are 5 ways in which you can make a real, concrete difference.