Wellbeing

5 Ways To Contribute To A Cause You Care About

Most of us want to do good in some way, shape or form and everyone has a cause that’s near and dear to their heart. Sure, you want to help somehow but knowing exactly how to go about it can prove difficult.

At Junket 2016, Junkee Media’s annual two-day ‘unconference’, some of the brightest and most inspiring young minds in Australia were brought together to brainstorm ideas that would have a positive impact on our lives, and the lives of others.

Our mates at Westpac ran a cash incentive that allowed 2016 Junket attendees to donate cash on the bank’s behalf, to a person who vouched for a cause that resonated with them at the conclusion of the conference.

One such person with a worthy cause is Melissa Abu-Gazaleh, the founder and CEO of the Top Blokes Foundation, a boy’s mental health organisation which assists more than 700 young men annually. After attending Junket last year, she talked to The Cusp how she went about turning her passion into action, for the greater good.

Photo: CEO of the Top Blokes Foundation, Melissa Abu-Gazaleh/ Supplied

“I started the Top Blokes Foundation at age 19 after realising that we, as a community, were often bombarded by negative news stories on young men,” says Melissa. “I learnt that more than 82% of media articles were negative, and we as a community were painting young men as liabilities instead of supporting them”.

“10 years ago, boys’ health wasn’t a widely recognised health issue,” says Melissa. “A huge part of my role has been public education: advocating for the financial, social and political investment in young men’s’ health and wellbeing”.

Since its creation, the Top Blokes Foundation has engaged over 11,000 young men, while building a number of programs and education systems to improve their lives.

In light of her success, Melissa has shared five pieces of advice for ways to contribute to a cause you care about.

 #1 Ask for advice  

It times of uncertainty, it pays to get a second opinion.

“If you aren’t sure whether you should pursue your idea or how to get started, ask people for advice,” says Melissa. “You’ll receive all sorts of advice and it’ll be up to you what advice to listen to, but there are a number of people out there that you can learn from”.

#2 Know it’s a long-term journey

Things aren’t going to happen overnight, and Melissa says it’s important to accept that turning your passion into action is a long-term journey.

“To achieve true, long-term social impact, it’s not going to be an easy process. So ask yourself the tough questions,” says Melissa.

“Do you realistically have the time to start a new project? Is your passion backed up with determination? Are there projects out there that also achieve the same outcome and is there a way you can partner with them to maximise the impact?”

#3 Find a mentor

There are heaps of different ways you can choose a mentor. Whether it be someone you admire personally, professionally or just respect – it shouldn’t matter, as long as they’re willing to share their knowledge and introduce you to others who can help.

“Make sure you know exactly what you want to achieve in this relationship,” says Melissa. “For every mentor meeting, have a list of questions or challenges you need to ask their advice on – don’t expect the mentor to prepare the meetings, it’s something you need to lead.”

Photo: Top Blokes Foundation/Facebook

#4 Research and network

It’s so important to reach out and connect with other young people.

“There’s a number of amazing leadership programs and events (like Junket!),” says Melissa. “Attending those helps to connect you with other young people who are on the same journey – it’s important to have a supportive network around you, because this work isn’t easy.”

#5 Set goals

When Melissa’s idea was in its infancy, she attended a one-week leadership program where a speaker stressed the importance of setting goals, and challenged attendees to write down a five-year vision.

“For me, I knew [my vision] was to run the Top Blokes Foundation. The speaker then asked us to write down two steps that we could take by the end of the week to get us one step closer to that five-year vision,” says Melissa.

“I wrote that I was going to listen to motivational tapes (because I needed motivation) and that I would buy a book about inspirational leaders and how they achieved their goals.”

Melissa achieved her five-year vision within nine months, thanking the power of goal setting. And, just a few weeks ago, she received an email from the author of that first book she bought to be involved in an upcoming book he’s writing – talk about full circle.

All it takes to enact change is an idea. What will you do with yours?

If you’re looking to take your social cause to the next level, Westpac is here to help. Check out the Westpac Business One Low account that could help take your business from hobby to reality.