Just A Minute

Get Involved Volunteer Illustration

How can you make the most of a little time to help your community?

Many of us want to make a difference in the world, but feel powerless to do so because of a perceived lack of time or knowledge. But, no matter how busy you are, it’s possible to find time for civic engagement.

How? Pacific University’s Center for Civic Engagement has tips on how to make a difference (and stay informed) whether you have just five minutes to spare or much more time on your hands.

The Center for Civic Engagement — whose director is Stephanie Stokamer — works with students, faculty, staff and campus groups interested in undertaking community service, awareness campaigns, fundraising, elections and other activities. Through its work, the center helps prepare Pacific students for lives as informed and active citizens.

What You Could Do In:

5 Minutes (or less)

  • Call an elected official.
  • Sign an online or paper petition or ballot initiative.
  • Make an online donation to a favorite cause.
  • Post a sign or bumper sticker, or pin on a campaign button.
  • Interrupt discriminatory language or behavior.

10 Minutes

  • Check how your elected representative voted at votesmart.org.
  • Make five calls to elected officials.
  • Modify a template letter or email to your elected officials.
  • Write a check to support a cause you care about.
  • Program your elected officials’ contact information into your cell phone. Text your zip code to 520-200-2223 for their names and phone numbers.
  • Join an advocacy group or organization.

20 Minutes

  • Write an original letter or email to your elected officials or media outlets.
  • Read the minutes from a public meeting, such as a city council or school board meeting.

1 hour

  • Read one or two in-depth articles about a topic or issue.
  • Talk with someone who holds a different opinion, with the goal of trying to understand their perspective.
  • Participate in a rally, march or protest.
  • Volunteer to make calls for a campaign.
  • Solicit signatures for a petition or ballot measure initiative.
  • Meet with an elected official to discuss an issue of concern.

2 hours

  • Attend a public meeting, such as a city council, school board or town hall meeting.
  • Research candidates and ballot measures in advance of an election.
  • Participate in a community conversation about a public issue.
  • Host a calling party for a local candidate or issue.
  • Watch a documentary about an important issue.
  • Shop at places where you can learn more about how items are sourced, produced, distributed and discarded.

10 hours

  • Research and write an opinion piece for a local publication.
  • Spend three mornings volunteering.
  • Read a nonfiction book about a particular topic or issue.
  • Volunteer for a campaign to go door-to-door.
  • Organize a simple fundraiser (such as a bake sale or penny drive).
  • Organize and facilitate a discussion circle.

40+ hours

  • Dedicate one hour a week to volunteer during the school year.
  • Organize a rally, march or protest.
  • Organize a complex fundraiser (such as a dinner or race).
  • Organize a ballot initiative.
  • Launch a business with a clear social benefit.
  • Run for office. 

This story first appeared in the Winter 2017 issue of Pacific Magazine. For more stories, visit pacificu.edu/magazine.

Dec. 12, 2017