Caitlin King Khoury
Your Voice Matters: 7 Ways to Be Civically Engaged in Arizona
Updated: Dec 29, 2022
The myriad issues facing humanity can feel overwhelming and impossible to address, but individuals have the power to create real change.
Stop feeling hopeless and start taking action!
Here’s the 411 on the top ways to get more civically engaged in Arizona right now.
Attend City Council Meetings
Did you know citizens can attend and participate in city council meetings?
This is a great way to have your say on issues you care about. Just search online for your city’s council meeting schedule (here is info on Phoenix). You may need to submit your request to speak before the meeting, and you can also leave comments that will be considered by the council.
Follow your Council Member on Social Media
Many council members maintain an active social media presence where they post about current issues, volunteer opportunities, and ways to have your voice heard.
For example, Phoenix’s District 7 Councilwoman Yassamin Ansari frequently posts about town hall events and pertinent community issues on her Instagram.
If you’re not sure how to find your council members, use this helpful map from the City of Phoenix to locate your district.
Remember to share local issues you’re passionate about on your personal social media channels - there is power in rallying your community through online forums.
Expand your Knowledge
Joining nonprofit groups like Think BIG clients, Phoenix Committee on Foreign Relations (PCFR) and Arizona Forward will produce connections and learning opportunities from not only local policymakers, but also influential leaders worldwide.
PCFR is dedicated to growing Arizona’s global prominence by providing forums that explore critical foreign policy issues and build enduring international connections. A PCFR membership gets you access to reading groups, virtual and in-person forums, and committees. Plus great networking opportunities!
Arizona Forward is another membership group that advocates for mobility and clean air solutions, restoration of urban waterways, and much more. Joining one of the Arizona Forward issues committees can make a real impact for the people of Arizona, and you don’t need an advocacy background to make a difference.
Staying current on local elections and issues also takes following your local news outlets to stay informed about candidates. Our fave is KJZZ Phoenix.
Serve on a City Board or Commission
Every city has boards and commissions that advise on a range of issues impacting
our everyday lives and environment. These volunteer-based roles don’t need special training to serve, and the application process is usually relatively simple.
Your community needs your fresh input and ideas, so what are you waiting for? Here you can see Phoenix’s complete list of boards and commissions, including Heritage, Planning, and Environmental Quality Commissions as well as advisory boards and steering committees.
Join a Nonprofit Board of Directors
Nonprofits need your voice! Serving on the board of a nonprofit whose mission you care about is one of the best ways to be civically engaged. No matter who you are, you have a unique perspective to bring to the table.
Check out these surprising statistics from Leading With Intent:
“Almost half of all chief executives said that they did not have the right board members to establish trust with the communities they serve. Only a third of boards (32%) place a high priority on 'knowledge of the community served', and even fewer (28%) place a high priority on 'membership within the community served'.”
This is a motivating reason to do your research and get involved with a nonprofit that serves your community.
The ASU Lodestar Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Innovation has a great list of current board openings, or you can just reach out to your favorite nonprofit and see if there are any board openings.
Participate in Giving Back to your Community
We've heard the saying "vote with your dollars", the idea that every time you spend money you are making a choice about the businesses you would like to see grow.
But it's not just about the for profit sector. Voting with your dollars includes choosing nonprofit organizations to support that share similar values and are making a positive impact on the issues you care about.
And while you may not be able to afford to donate large sums of money, there is power in numbers. We have been astounded by the impact of Giving Circles, a form of participatory philanthropy where groups of individuals donate their own money to a pooled fund and decide together where to invest these funds.
Philanthropy Together estimates that Giving Circles have collectively given $1.29 Billion through more than 2,000 circles in the United States.
Think BIG's Caitlin King Khoury founded Phoenix Collective Giving Circle in 2021. The giving circle launched with a gift of $1,500 for Phoenix Allies for Community Health, and is currently recruiting more members to continue the mission to support “nonprofits that do good for our community & our planet.”
By following the above six tips you will be more informed and connected to your community. Still, we want to emphasize the importance of voting in local elections as the most powerful form of civic engagement.
Keep up with all upcoming elections by bookmarking your local elections website -- ours is the Maricopa Elections Department calendar.
In the meantime, be sure you are registered to vote by July 5, 2022 to participate in the August Primary Elections in Arizona!