Frequently Asked Questions
The following questions were created by our friends and viewers of this site as a means of spreading the knowledge of the mission and focus of 4YOS. Peruse the responses below, and if you still have a question, feel free to click on the button below to submit one of your own.
Is 4YOS a political movement? Is it a religious movement?
Nope. 4YOS believes that kindness knows no gender, age, creed or color. We are non-partisan, and seek to champion respect for all people.
The narratives on this site are written by the many folks who have pledged four years of service, and their ideas are their own. However, we ask that all works espouse our core values of promoting service, championing kindness, creating safe spaces and respecting the dignity of all people. More importantly, 4YOS will never be a tool to create divisions between people, to denigrate any people or organizations, or to promote people or organizations that seek to champion discrimination or hate.
What is the primary goal of 4YOS?
We believe in the power of acts of kindness (regardless of size) and of sharing your personal story. As such, the creators of 4YOS wanted to build a way for people to bring more kindness into this world through personal narratives documenting their local acts of service.
Put simply, we want you to create meaningful change in your local community, and share your story of doing so, either on our site or on other locations of your choosing. Our hope is that, in doing so, we'll inspire many more to join in the effort, transforming the work of our hands into an unstoppable movement.
Four years of service is great, but what happens after four years?
For many of us, we'll pledge four more years of service. And then another four years after that. And another after that. In that all formidable tasks seem impossible until they are done, we hope that by pledging service in increments, you will be able to set a reachable goal for yourself that you can stick to and complete. We want to help you complete the marathon of your service journey mile by mile, and breaking up your acts of service into a framework is helpful to keep folks on track.
We also use the four years of service framework as a way to handle the leadership and direction of our volunteers who run the maintenance and upkeep of our collective. We call these folks the 4YOS Core Team, and they are volunteers who, in addition to pledging four years of service, agree to help keep up the site and social media accounts, recruit folks to pledge and volunteer, and help organize the communications and marketing efforts. In that our site is meant to champion the many voices devoted to promoting kindness, we hope to have this core team switch every four years.
What is a champion? What is a featured champion?
We refer to anyone who pledges four years of service as a Champion - these folks are listed on our website for agreeing to spend the next 4 years doing different acts of service and telling the story of what they do.
When someone pledges four years of service on our site, we invite them to share their story of why they chose to pledge and what they plan to do on our website. Featured champions are the individuals who have submitted their stories to us to share.
You say you are starting your four years of service in January 20. What if I've missed the start date? Can I still pledge four years of service?
Yes, you can start your four years of service at any time. The idea is for you to begin your clock when you are ready, and then dedicate the next 48 months to performing acts of service. After each act of service, share your service story, either on this site or on the sites/social media accounts of your choosing.
You can pledge at any time using the form on our site.
Where can I tell my service story?
After you complete each act of service, it's up to you where you can share the story. For those that pledge on our site, we have a special form that allows you to submit a post directly to this site. However, if you have your own site or want to share out over your social media channels directly, you can do that too. We basically wanted to create a space for those that didn't have one already, but also encourage people to share where they are most comfortable.
I want to tell my service story, but I don't know where to start. How do I tell my story?
This is a big question - how do you tell this story and manage to keep it true to your voice and intentions? There are countless storytelling frameworks that you can leverage to help with the task. Marshall Ganz, a senior lecturer at Harvard University, shares a structure that allows you to create a meaningful narrative by starting out talking about you, reaching out to your audience and their needs, and then concluding with your vision for next steps as a collective call to action. This is a manageable way to start with your first storytelling efforts:
- Begin by recounting the details of your service efforts. Why did you decide to get involved with that particular organization? What happened? What struggles did you face? What were you able to accomplish?
- Now, explain to folks why these efforts are connected to them. Why should they care? To what extent are these efforts and goals shared between you and your intended audience?
- Lastly, share how people can get involved. What are the next steps for those that want to join in on the effort?
As a means of encouraging new storytellers to consider the common elements of a compelling story, we built into our online story submission form a series of reflection prompt templates that you can use to guide your narrative. If you've pledged four years of service on our site, you have access to these templates within the submission form linked on your Champion Dashboard.
How can I find a local charity to support?
The web is a great place to start! For those that want a broad spectrum of organizations to help locally, sites like VolunteerMatch help you select a focus and then see charities that are looking for specific types of volunteers. You can also look out for city-based Community Activism Fairs that will allow you to connect with large numbers of charities all at once and find a few organizations that align to your interests and talents. As our 4YOS site expands, we'll continue to encourage folks to share upcoming service opportunities on our site to help folks connect to local efforts.
What does it mean to pledge four years of service?
A pledge of 4YOS means that you agree to complete three simple tasks for the next four years - do service, talk about it, and connect others to opportunities to do the same.
Here's what it entails a little more specifically:
- Pledge to spend the next four years giving your time and/or resources in service to others. For many, this will looks like choosing one charity each month for 48 months.
- Share the story of how you contributed, and how others might do so. This doesn’t have to be fancy or complicated. A tweet, a photo on Instagram, a shared post on Facebook might be the way you tell your story.
- Support others who want to get involved by sharing your story, offering assistance, and providing them access the resources available on this site.
That’s it! Once you pledge, we give you resources and special services to help support your 4YOS efforts, to include access to share your story directly on our website.
Haven't pledged yet? Here's the signup form.