A community organization’s entire goal is to make desired improvements to a community’s well-being, social health, and overall functioning. They’re concerned with helping individuals, families, and groups, so they frequently hire people who possess a humanitarian spirit.
Community organizations will also hire those that share similar values and people who are focused on short and long-term change through direct action, like education and social care.
If you want to be a part of one of these groups, you’ll need more than just an incredible work wardrobe. You’ll need a variety of skills that can help your community organization thrive.
7 Skills Every Community Organization Member Needs
People who work in community organizations are tasked with mobilizing the community to support a cause. Employees or volunteers need the following skills to succeed at this objective.
1. Empathy and Patience
Empathy and patience are non-negotiable as a community support member, as they genuinely need to care about their community to effectively help it. The ability to empathize makes it easier to identify challenges, work through times of emotional distress, and empower or soothe others.
With that said, a truly empathic person is also patient. Not everyone who needs your help will readily accept it, but that doesn’t mean we should turn them away. Change can’t happen overnight, and we must be resilient and understanding in order to see a community grow.
2. Good Technical Skills
A big part of social justice is getting the message out, and the internet is the perfect way to expand your reach. Employees and volunteers need great technical skills to create online petitions, manage social media accounts, and design websites intended for activism outreach.
With that said, leaflets, flyers, signs, and banners are also very effective and efficient ways to spread information. Fortunately, you can design stunning posters without graphic arts skills if you use sites like BeFunky, which utilizes templates to simplify the entire design process.
3. Communication Skills
A community organization member can’t help others if they don’t build trust and rapport, which is done through effective communication and listening skills. You’ll be working with some people who’ve lost faith in the system, and it’s your job to convince them that you’re on their side.
Great communication skills require listening skills. A person who can check their ego, stay quiet, and listen is more professional and likely to understand what the other is saying. This ensures they’re able to get their message across and advocate for groups in an appropriate manner.
4. Organization and Flexibility
An organized person is better equipped to handle a mounting workload. A logical filling system, time management skills, and neat note-taking are key components of effective project management. It can even help businesses save money, which is essential for a non-profit.
While keeping everything in order is essential, community organization members should also be flexible. A crisis may occur, and a certain project or person may need your attention right away. Knowing how to prioritize and complete multiple tasks at once will be crucial in all of your roles.
While empathy and open-mindedness appear to go hand in hand, that isn’t always the case. You can be empathic and care about a person but still judge their choices. The urge to judge usually comes from a deeply held insecurity or unconscious bias, which isn’t easy to overcome.
But once you’re able to look past these judgments, you stop shaming yourself and others for the choices they make. People make all kinds of decisions for a number of reasons, but it isn’t your position to judge. The skills you bring to the table are meant to help, not hurt, others.
6. Research and Reporting
High-quality research and reporting skills allow you to talk about events without judgment. Too often, media outlets will hold negative biases toward marginalized groups, which fosters more unnecessary hate and violence. You’ll have to shed light on this unfairness with criticism.
Even if you aren’t taking a media-focused role in the organization, you’ll participate in activism in some form. Being media-critical will make you more aware of other injustices that could need your organization’s help. Plus, it can improve your problem-solving and critical-thinking skills.
If you’ve worked in any community-focused group for any length of time, you’re well aware of the emotional stress it can cause. Activists rarely stop advocating for others before they stop caring. More often than not, they get burnout and tired, especially when they receive little help.
You’re not a bad person for taking a step back and helping yourself. It’s necessary to have a good self-care ritual in place and stick to routines. If you can’t care for yourself, it’s harder to care for others. When you feel you need a break, take it, and regroup when you’re ready.