Working for a cause? SXSW 2019 panelists share ways to stay motivated.

How often do you hear people say they want the world to be a better place? There are numerous ways they can take action: from making donations to volunteering. And then there are those who support a cause on a daily basis, often as a career.

Moment, Momentum, Movement, a South by Southwest Conference and Festivals (SXSW) 2019 panel, provided an insider’s look at social movements – including tips for how to stay motivated as one works to make a difference.

Gaining awareness for your cause is important. And yes, those media “moments” that shine a light on the issue can help recruit new supporters. Think of #MeToo, the ice bucket challenge or kneeling NFL players as examples.

It is tempting to think that these moments (and the resulting waves of public support) are spontaneous. But this panel of long-time activists was quick to point out that moments and the resulting movements would not happen without the infrastructure that community activists have spent months and even years creating.

Panelist Michael Skolnik reminded attendees that the “spark” in the civil rights movement when Rosa Parks would not give up her bus seat on December 1, 1955 happened in part because of considerable organizing before that day.

After establishing that creating change is a long-term process, the experts shared tips for how to do your best work.

Even though the moments are energizing, it is important to stay motivated and to keep working even after a moment is over – because your work will help to spark the next opportunity.

Nonprofit workers and community organizers should incorporate a good self-care practice. The panelists offered their favorite self-care tips:

  • Don’t feel guilty about stepping away for a little bit.
  • Some days there are wins. Be sure to celebrate those.
  • Embrace the things that give you joy.
  • Surround yourself with people who uplift you.

And what can you do to help if a cause is not your daily work?

“Buy a foot soldier a cup of coffee” to help give motivation, quipped panelist Amanda Litman.

SXSW Panel: Moment, Momentum, Movement
Track: Social & Global Impact presented by The Rockefeller Foundation
Panelists: Amanda Litman, Run for Something Co-founder and Executive Director; Jess Morales Rocketto, National Domestic Workers Alliance Political Director; Michael Skolnik, The Soze Agency Co-Founder & Partner.
Moderator: Jen O’Malley Dillon, Precision Strategies Co-Founder and Partner

Image: S. Erler

About Susannah Erler 7 Articles
Susannah Erler is Interim Director of the Texas Grants Resource Center and Director of Greater Good Strategies – Nonprofit Consulting.

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