Ultimate Ethical Activism Guide For 2020

The most in-depth beginner’s guide on ethical activism practices even for beginners! #activist #activism #modernactivism

Ethical Activism Crash Course

Ethical Activism & Humanitarianism In 30-Seconds

Everyone’s definitions of “ethical”, “activism”, and “humanitarianism” are different.

This is how I define “ethical activism” and “ethical humanitarianism”…

Ethical Activism: Taking intentional action to help others with an eye for the big picture.

Ethical Humanitarianism: Taking intentional action to help others with an eye for the big picture and empathy for the individual regardless of the political system people live under.

Activism and humanitarianism are closely tied to each other. To me, the main difference between the two is that humanitarianism is a form of activism that tends to be more focused on advocating for all people regardless of political systems in place.

Here are some tips to get started:

  • ask “what do you need?” instead of “I know what you need”
  • empower others (long-term) instead of offering conventional “help” (short-term)
  • turn complaints into a calls to action on the individualcommunity, or institutional level
  • approach complex issues by “thinking global, acting local” so we can take action in a more efficient and effective way

The main difference is that humanitarianism is a form of activism that tends to be more focused on advocating for all people regardless of political systems in place.

Ultimate Guides For 4 Ethical Causes

Ultimate Guides For 4 Ethical Causes

How To Become An Ethical Activist In 8 Steps

Step 1 – Choose an issue of importance.

Your “issue of importance” is the cause that you are most focused on right now.

But choosing a single issue is very overwhelming! So, remember to focus on just one issue at a time.


  • Human rights
  • Environmentalism or sustainability
  • Animal welfare
  • Access to healthcare, food, etc.

Here are some questions and tips to get you started:

  • What are the biggest problems you are observing in your community or that you hear about in the news?
  • Is there a particular issue you feel passionate about?
  • What could you talk or rant about for hours?
  • What issue makes you so upset that you become speechless and extremely emotional?
  • Write out a definition of exactly what you want to address.
  • The issue can be as specific or broad as you’d like.
  • Focus on just one issue at a time.
  • You can change your “issue of importance” whenever you want to!
  • Choose an issue that has the greatest impact for the least amount of effort (it’s like shopping for cereal!)

Here’s a graphic that can help you prioritize what you should do first:

The most in-depth beginner's guide on ethical activism practices even for beginners! #activist #activism #modernactivism

Step 2 – Write out 5 ideas that could help fix the issue.     

No matter how extreme or simple the idea, write it down! Here are some tips:

  • Try to understand the root causes behind the problem.
  • Brainstorm ideas that would help to address those root causes and choose one or two actions that seem the most possible and likely to make the biggest difference.
  • Consider the 8 methods of human rights advocacy.

All ideas fall in one of the following 3 levels of making change:

  1. Individual level – taking action in your own life that make a difference (picking up litter, writing a blog, etc.)
  2. Community level – get others to do what you’re doing (initiating or participating in a community event)
  3. Institutional level – make changes in schools, the media, governments, etc.

The most in-depth beginner's guide on ethical activism practices even for beginners! #activist #activism #modernactivism

Step 3 – Research the Issue.

In order to act on the ideas that you’ve brainstormed, you need to research the issue.

No worries! Google makes it easy, and here are some other tips:

  • Read newspapers, magazines, and reports that discuss the “issue of importance” that you’ve chosen.
  • Call or write letters to organizations and officials asking for information.
  • Collect statistics. If appropriate, survey your community.
  • Learn what your government is doing to address the issue.
  • Find out what your state or national laws say.
  • Find out who is already taking action on the issue.
  • Find out who the people and organizations are that oppose your solution. They may not be the “bad guys” but simply people with different opinions.

Step 4 – Organize.

Working with other people can make it easier to achieve your goals.

  • Find other organizations and individuals who are concerned about the problem and agree with your solution.
  • Try to get support from as many different sectors as possible – teachers, officials, students, businesses, community groups. The more people on your team, the more power you will have to make a difference.
  • Consider meeting with your opponents; you might be able to work out a compromise. It is important to try to understand each other’s point of view. Always be polite and respectful of other opinions.

Step 5 – Make an action plan. 

Make a list of all the steps you need to take to implement your chosen action.

  • Who will execute these steps?
  • When and where will these actions happen?
  • What is the desired result?
  • Will you need to raise money to fund your idea?
  • If possible, practice the action before you carry out your plan.

Step 6 – Advertise.

Let as many people as possible know about the problem you are trying to solve and your proposed solution.

  • Newspapers, radio, and television are usually interested in stories of action. Some TV and radio stations offer free air time for interesting projects.
  • Write a letter to the editors at media outlets to get the word out about your cause.
  • Share your thoughts and ideas on social media (your own or on channels of people you know would like to share your cause)
  • The more people who know about what you are doing, the more who may want to support you.

Step 7 – Take Action. 

  • Carry out your plan and do not give up if things do not work out exactly as planned.
  • Making change happen takes time.
  • Problem solving means eliminating all the things that do not work until you find something that does.

Step 8 – Evaluate and follow-up. 

After you have taken your action, take time to think and talk about what happened.

  • Did you achieve what you wanted to achieve?
  • How do you know?
  • What could you have done better?
  • Try to define some indicators for what progress means.
  • Are some efforts effective and others not?
  • Have you tried everything?
  • Keep thinking creatively about how to solve the problem and decide on what to do next.

Beginner’s Checklist To Ethical Activism

These activism tips pertain to many causes that include sustainability, human rights, animal welfare, minimalism, and environmentalism.

You don’t have to spread yourself thin by diving into every cause you’re passionate. Take it slow! One cause at a time 🙂

Make a bigger impact by exploring these ultimate guides:

The Basic Checklist:

  • Understand that human rights are standards that allow all people to live with dignity, freedom, equality, justice, and peace
  • Understand the principles of human rights:
    • Human rights belong to all people
    • Human rights cannot be taken away
    • Human rights should be respected without prejudice
  • Shop ethically with our Ethical Shopping Guide For Beginners Guide here
  • Stop going on trips that are marketed at “humanitarian trips”. You might have good intentions, but the companies that run the trips don’t. The damage that you end up inflicting on the mental and economic state of the communities you are trying to help is very difficult to repair in the long-term. (What to do instead)
  • Make sure your fashion choices are respectful and culturally appropriate
    • Cultural appropriation = disrespecting the culture something originated from and disrespecting the original meaning behind it
    • Ask yourself: “Is this item respecting the culture & meaning it is representing/originated from?”
  • Avoid cruises and try to travel as ethically conscious as possible
  • Move your money into an ethical bank or credit union that invests in empowering communities instead of investing in the fossil fuel industry
  • Grow some houseplants to improve the air quality in your home and in your neighborhood
  • When you want to buy something new, avoid impulse buying. If you see something you want, go away and think about it for at least 2 days. If you still want it a week or two later, then you are in a better mental state to make the purchase.
  • Remember that activism looks different for everyone. It’s all about intentional action with an eye for the bigger picture and empathy for individuals. Follow what works for you instead of trying to make your life look like someone else’s life. It’s not easy, but it’s doable! 🙂

22 Tools To Make Ethical Activism Easier

Easy Ways To Learn The Facts

  • Instagram & Twitter – Go into the “Explore” tabs and search for a specific city or country so that you can see real-time footage from the public and not from bias media outlets.
  • Gapminder– Uses data to promote a fact-based world view that promotes sustainable global development and achievement of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals.
  • Worldmapper– A collection of world maps, where territories are re-sized on each map according to the subject of interest, including those related to global health.

Essential Security Tools Before Starting

  • Data Detox Kit – Everyday steps you can take to control your digital privacy, security, and wellbeing in ways that feel right to you.
  • Security-In-a-Box – digital security tools for everyone, but also for specific groups of people — sometimes in specific regions — who face significant digital security threats.

For Mobilising and Coordinating

Use these tools to have conversations with several people in different geographical areas. You can also communicate with people through video conferencing, voice calls, and built-in instant messaging.

  • Bridgefy – bluetooth offline messaging app used by protesters around the world (Android & Apple)
  • Skype
  • Google Hangouts
  • WhatsApp
  • GroupMe
  • Facebook
  • Instagram

For Documenting and Visualizing

Upload your experience for other advocates or to the general public for awareness:

  • Witness.org – helps people use video and technology to protect and defend human rights.
  • Library.Witness.org – a library of free resources for video activists, trainers, and their allies
  • Google Maps (document locations)
  • Google Earth (tag locations with video footage)
  • Google Photos (for unlimited video & photo storage)
  • Facebook Live
  • Instagram Live
  • Twitter
  • YouTube

For Informing and Communicating

  • PBWorks.com – create a wiki of easy-to-edit web pages that let you collaborate online and share information. PBWorks is offers a free version comes with unlimited pages and revisions, 10 megabytes of storage for file attachments, zip backup and RSS feeds.
  • WordPress.com or Squarespace.com – create an amateur blog (free)
  • WordPress.org – create a professional website/blog (minimum $50/year maintenance costs)
    1. Find a trusted web host for WordPress.
    2. Download & install WordPress with a quick 5-minute installation.
    3. Spend some time reading documentation and find some recent video tutorials on YouTube.
    4. YouTube – create a free video channel
    5. Twitter
    6. Instagram
    7. Twitch
    8. Tumblr
    9. Google Alerts – sends you an email alert whenever Google finds a new result containing the search term you want to stay up-to-date on.

For Bypassing and Accessing

Sometimes during your activist journey, you may encounter situations where you need to take extra precautions to access blocked content or make yourself more safe online. Use these resources to help you do that.

YES, these are ALL LEGAL to use! Most of them are developed by non-profit organizations or started out as university projects.

  • Psiphon – access blocked sites in countries where the internet is censored, without installing additional software. Psiphon turns a regular home computer into a personal, encrypted server capable of retrieving and displaying web pages anywhere. You can then give out access to friends and contacts who live in a censored internet environment.
    • Psiphon is LEGAL and began at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab in 2006. Since then, it’s grown to help over 12 million people access the open internet every week.
  • Tor – protects you by encrypting your communications and bouncing them around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world. It works with many of your existing applications, including web browsers, instant messaging clients, remote login, and other applications based on the internet’s TCP protocol.
    • NOTE: Tor will not keep you anonymous if you visit websites that use Javascript or Flash (these plug-ins should be disabled). A lot of care must be taken even if you have Tor installed.
    • Use Tor when the internet in countries that spy on and censor internet use.
    • Tor is legal to use and is run by the non-profit organization called the Tor Project.
  • Riseup – offers free and legal online communication tools for activists around the world and takes great care in securing the information stored on their servers. They have long been a trusted resources for activists in need of secure email solutions.
    • Riseup has gone to great lengths to assure that there email systems are secure.
    • Only use it for activism work!
    • Use it when secure email is an absolute necessity.
    • More info on their security measures here

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The most in-depth beginner's guide on ethical activism practices even for beginners! #activist #activism #modernactivism

Sources: The Advocates For Human Rights (1)(2)(3)(4)(5)AdvoxTactical Tech

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