Essay as a kind of pupil’s written work: from concept to examples
The student’s essay is an unbiased penned focus on this issue proposed by the instructor (this issue may be proposed by the pupil, but needs to be agreed With the trained instructor). The objective of the essay is always to develop the relevant skills of separate imaginative reasoning and a written declaration of the very own ideas.
The essay should include: an obvious declaration associated with essence for the issueposed, include independently conducted analysis of this nagging issue making use of principles and analytical tools considered in the framework for the control, conclusions summarizing the writer’s place in the issue posed. With respect to the details of this discipline, the type of an essay can somewhat distinguish. In some instances, this can be an analysis of the available data that are statistical the issue being examined, an analysis of materials through the advertising plus the use of the models being examined, a detail by detail analysis associated with the problem that is proposed detail by detail views, the selection and analysis that is detailed of illustrating the issue, etc. Continue reading “Essay as a kind of pupil’s written work: from concept to examples”→
Recall you will be able to to recycle documents, so in case the questions are relatively more common, attempt to utilize the exact same composition for more the 1 software. It simply indicates you want to consider your essay as an evolution. Especially in conditions where you might need to compose yet another essay or 2. Continue reading “Persuasive Essay Ideas”→
It’s normal to be exhausted by endless crises, a President who throws tweet bombs at 6 am every day and the non-stop punditry cycle. Unfortunately, wearing you out is a valuable, sometimes intentional, benefit to those who disagree with you.
The latest Bright Ideas (subscribe below!) takes a look at how social media works against good content and storytelling and how (or even if) we can do better in a system that only seems to reward angry and extreme voices. Also, Fortnite is where it’s happening (ten million people in one place!), loads of new jobs, and help for your messy to manage content projects.
A crisis a day makes good information go away
There’s a lot of fallout when multiple political and social crises go viral on social media every day. Journalists, analysts, politicians and activists get worn out sprinting on a nonstop treadmill of hot takes, misinformation, new details and (eventually) personal attacks.
More problematic to actual advocacy, governance and storytelling is that it all happens at a pace that doesn’t allow nuance. The incentive and reward system surrounding social media, and in effect storytelling, is dangerous.
We’re seeing a growing sentiment that journalists (and others) would be more effective at their work if they leave social media. Jeff Jarvis counters that it’s the duty of journalists to listen to their audience and engage in community conversations.
Journalists (and activists and anyone, really) tend to burn out when living life responding to constant outrage. Sometimes, people join in and share things later proven to be false. Or statements that deserve much greater nuance.
But I agree with Jarvis that those whose job it is to report the news can’t run from the public square. Same goes for those of us whose role it is to use stories to illuminate a path towards more just and equitable communities.
We can and usually should moderate the speed at which we act online. We can develop personal and organizational principles that outline our ethics and values with respect to information and personal data. Some of us (not all) can spend less time on social media and more in personal conversation.
Perhaps there are strategies for better using tools and networks to gather information and engage in community conversations. I’m a fan of Hearken and their approach to audience/reader engagement (and listening). It’s helpful, positive and structured. Not reckless. It complements social networks instead of depending on them.
Then there’s the Covington thing
All the above-described soul searching seemed to take center stage in the aftermath of about 1,508,000 hours of collective watching and punditry interpreting what went on when the Covington behaved very badly.
Any large and unsupervised group of teenage tourists wandering around a city rarely ends well. Mob-like behaviors happen in groups. Decorum and self-reflection aren’t rewarded. The group, lacking any consensus, is quick to support quick if thoughtless action.
The longread, How I Knew the #CovingtonBoys Video Was Clickbait, posits that the video first shared wasn’t necessarily inaccurate but was intentionally edited to generate attention and outrage on social media. The implication: Americans spent a week attacking one another in response to a video intentionally crafted to do just that.
The article doesn’t excuse the behavior of the kids from Covington or anyone else in DC that day. But it does raise valuable questions about the failure of journalism, and storytelling in general, to function in an always on, hyperactive environment that rewards conflict and emotion instead of nuance and perspective gained over time.
How do nonprofits and activists navigate an environment that rewards going to extremes? As a sector, we’ve long highlighted worst case scenarios to raise money and get people to take action. It’s worth considering whether earning support requires driving people into a fury. If so, we can and should do better.
How can we empower generations of storytellers to use this most ancient of technologies to change systems for the better?
We need to develop new processes of collective storytelling to help us
navigate these turbulent and polarizing times. As such, we need more
stories about stories in the field of systems change. There are many
more examples, tools, and ways of usingof stories to
share. It is time for systems change practitioners and storytellers to
work together in new ways to build a better world so that “living
happily ever after” exists off the page, as well as on it.
The intersection of tech and doing good work
Professionally speaking, it can be hard to find the spot in the venn
diagram where tech skills overlap with social good. I recently spoke
with Noah Hart who runs Tech Jobs for Good.
He shared with me that setting up the job board and email list grew out
of many conversations with coders, project managers and others with
tech skills who, like him, were frustrated in their quest to do work
that benefits communities, not just investors. Check it out.
Couple things, though: The history of all in one
software solutions in the CMS/CRM space is spotty at best, at least in
the nonprofit world which isn’t far removed from local news imho. They
better invest in implementation support, culture change, and sharing
innovation across the sector. Also, despite what I just said about
similar systems not working well in the nonprofit space, small orgs
really need something like this (and the skills/support to make it
Many (most?) nonprofit content projects suck
That’s in part due to having too many cooks in the kitchen. Maybe it’s not too many cooks but confusion about who preps, who cooks, who tastes, who serves the meal. Ever watched a “restaurant wars” episode of Top Chef? Poor team management is where good food goes to die. Same for good content.
No surprise to hear that subscription and membership models
will become the key revenue focus for the news industry this year
according to the annual Reuters Journalism, Media and Technology Trends
and Predictions report. Also, look for online journalism to continue
saying membership when they mean subscription.
This is a thorough list of user experience and design conferences
around the world in 2019. UX and design is really all about how people
interact with what they see and feel around them. So the language can
differ but loads to be learned at some of these for the non-designer who
works with content, storytelling or advocacy. The UX Collective newsletter is a good one, too, by the way.
One piece of content strategy is knowing why, when, how (and if) you need to post your content in multiple places. That seems like a lot of extra work. A version of this topic about this popped up last week in a Slack community for nonprofit/NGO folks with which I’m involved. Someone posted this question:
Does anyone have any useful insight for blogging? I’m specifically looking at posting to our native website and cross-posting to other sites – Medium, Linkedin, WordPress, etc. Obviously each has their own strengths but it feels like overkill to post to all.
I love this. Where to put content, when, why, and what it should look like come up in every comms and digital program – regardless of whether or not there’s a clear content strategy. Every organization sorts this out. And the good ones ask the question over and over again. Talking through it presents a great opportunity to dig into about content strategy, staffing, planning, editorial style, marketing and more.
Isn’t putting our content in more than one place just extra work?
Pushing content into multiple channels is probably already happening. Your blog posts, articles, reports, and action alerts are all finding their way into social media posts.
A blog post you write today probably also has an accompanying Facebook post with a headline, text and photo optimized for Facebook engagement. It has a 200 or so character tweet and photo. Maybe it also has a one minute video – an interview with a staff member about the story that can go on YouTube or Instagram.
Doing this much is almost taken for granted. You want to raise awareness of the post, drive clicks to your site and so you create little versions of the story that entice people to click through to find out more.
Measure the forest, not just the trees.
Most of us focus on one featured piece of content – usually a blog post or other page on a website. We’re constantly planting new trees in our content forest. We care for each tree – at least for a day or two – by telling everyone “hey, go look at the tree.” We measure page views and Facebook likes, Instagram followers and retweets.
We’re often answering the “should I also put our content over there” using a cost-benefit equation that can’t be defined. Of course, we’re going to create the main post or piece of content. We have to do that. (You have to have at least one tree, right?)
How do we know if a tree on the website, on Medium, or on LinkedIn is worth it?
What if we could measure the value of the forest instead of each tree? We know a healthy forest needs different kinds of trees. Some live. Some don’t.
Some trees serve as home for squirrels and birds. Others produce twigs eaten by deer. Some create shade the keeps things cool and others drop leaves that replenish the forest floor.
Each person interacting with a story or piece of content (a tree) is getting something special from it. We just don’t have great ways of measuring individual value. But if someone important to us gets all their value from a Facebook tree then we better make sure that all the content they need is on Facebook. Other people might be email newsletter and Facebook consumers. Others get their nutrition from Medium. And maybe a little ego-soothing LinkedIn first thing in the morning.
A thriving forest is alive, evolving and growing. So is your content.
There’s no one way to care for a healthy forest. And what works today may not be worth doing a year from now. Know how people engage with content. Don’t just optimize the website for stickiness or assume you can create great Facebook posts that get people to go read the full article. Consider the people who spend most of their time in Facebook and make sure they get what you need them to get while there. If you can show that your people are on Medium then don’t look that as extra work, look at it as necessary and do it well.
Review your approach regularly. Don’t be afraid to shift gears, test, put more time into one part of the forest for a while.
Measuring the forest.
Figure out how to measure for the forest, not the individual trees. Don’t rely on page views, clicks, opens and raw audience size. That’s all great stuff. Do measure it. But don’t base your decisions about how to spend your time on it.
Here’s an idea: ask people qualitative questions about your content and it’s impact on their work, conversations with family or friends, their ability to take meaningful action. Ask them in January. Then ask those same people again in May and October. Do they recall content? Do they remember where they found it? Did they take an action or make a donation as a result? Did they change their own economic or political behavior? Did they send it to someone? How and why?
Many of these actions don’t happen at grandiose scales. The numbers may not wow you but tangible measures of action, empathy and engagement can be the difference between content that’s distributed and content that has impact. And that’s a helpful number to pin down when trying to define the difference between content strategy and content production.
In addition to helping the nonprofit community speed up membership innovation, let’s create a framework for helping people find, create and share their own stories in ways that build community, grow power, and strengthen their ties to organizations as well as one another.
Never before have we had so much content, so many stories, so much news to consume. The volume isn’t just overwhelming members, readers and supporters. It’s transforming how organizations, businesses and even individuals create and fund content.
The issues facing content creators, marketers and digital strategists are many. A few: No longer is getting a story in the newspaper sufficient. An organizational blog post that gets 100 views and three retweets isn’t getting you anywhere. A video on YouTube is likely lost to the world unless you’ve committed to a full-blown YouTube marketing strategy.
Here’s the thing
Content is created to serve organizational goals. Stories we create and ask people to share may be about people impacted by the policy or product we’re working to promote (or oppose). But it’s still our story. In our voice. With our context woven through it. Aimed at achieving our purpose.
Advocates, organizations, companies, journalists and storytellers all approach content with intention and filters. We have a goal in mind. That goal shapes the questions we ask and the pieces of the story we pick up and shine a light on.
So, are we creating content, stories that actually give voice to people? Or are we just rewriting our own beliefs in the words of others? Are we reporting on the world as it is or the world as we see it?
When I talk about content strategy and storytelling, I want to be very intentional about the who, what and why. Some recent articles and conversations help here:
Ashley Alvarado is the Director of Community Engagement at KPCC, a public radio station based in Pasadena, California. They’ve been taking on a range of innovative content programs aimed at better / more deeply covering and finding community-driven news. They bought and revived community news site LAist, for instance, not what you might expect from a radio station.
The project’s name is intentional – Unheard instead of untold. As Alvarado points out, more stories go unheard than untold because people with stories don’t have access to media and storytelling opportunities. Unheard LA is about stripping away control over who gets to hear stories by investing in meeting people where they are, applying user-centered design to journalism and storytelling, and really shifting engagement from being organization-centered to people-powered.
Alvarado has a great example in the webinar of how user centered design (or, really, just listening to people who don’t usually get talked to by the media and nonprofits) is transformative right now. She talks about the coming 2020 census, how important it is to LA residents, and how many advocacy groups are working in the community to organize and raise awareness about the census.
But, in talking with people, it’s become clear that people have heard of the census but have no idea about how it affects them, why they should care, or what to do.
In other words, despite all the work happening on the ground, there’s a gap between the stories being created by advocates and how people consume, translate and use stories.
The context of the conversation is journalism. Are news and media companies meeting the needs of low-income communities amidst rapid changes in newspaper availability and digital platforms?
But there are big lessons (and opportunity) here for community nonprofits, advocacy groups and anyone doing community organizing. Schmidt, Hamilton and Morgan talk about behavioral economics, helping people access information that impacts their lives, and how people make decisions. These factors, much more than high level policy outcomes, impact how people access and use messaging.
Any framework for community storytelling that builds power needs to emphasize user experience and design. Many of the organizations already working in community organizing have relationships in the community, access to data (or at least awareness of what data is out there), and insights into what information people use to make decisions on a daily basis.
These are the organizations that, with storytelling skills and resources, can transform how communities access information, use information to build power, and
Let’s think about how we scale up storytelling that puts communities at the forefront. The role of nonprofits, media organizations and funders is to train, support, guide and, perhaps most importantly, create the channels that spread learning faster.
This post is part of the latest edition of Bright Ideas. Subscribe here:
Here’s the latest edition of Bright Ideas where we take a look at changing Facebook relevance may mean to content, storytelling and marketing. Also, why is BuzzFeed doing tote bags? And new jobs for great people. Subscribe here:
O Facebook, What Art Thou? I’m not going to make the case that Facebook is going away. At least not anytime soon. But the obstacles it faces, largely challenges of its own making, should be of enormous concern to any nonprofit campaigner, fundraiser or leader. (And present exciting opportunities for positive change, I hope.)
First, let’s look at how anti-user Facebook’s core product, the ad manager (ha, I mean the news feed), has become. Despite Facebook’s self-proclaimed return to being a place for friends in 2018, it’s pretty much a visual (and targeted) classified ads platform. Example: at 4 pm last Wednesday I pulled up my Facebook feed and scrolled through the first 25 posts. Twelve were from pages I’ve followed at one time or another. Five were ads. Eight were from people I know. Five of those were straight up reshares of page content with no context.
So much for friends.
Second, the world that analyzes these things is full of stories about declining Facebook use among people under 25 and Europeans, among others. This parallels data about falling interest in the US. Meanwhile, Facebook does seem to have followed through on its promise to deprioritize news by sending less traffic to media sites – a hit to online publishers that’s unlikely, in the short term, to do anything about public trust in media.
Where does that leave us? In the short term, probably in the same place we’ve been for a couple years now. Facebook is huge and any organization willing to put real resources behind the creation and advertising of engaging content that can help bring people (and their data) to Facebook is going to be okay.
But can nonprofits as well as media orgs (including nonprofit journalism) continue to rely on social media to drive growth and visits to their websites? And can nonprofits (and even the consultants surrounding them) continue relying on a platform that seems okay absolving itself of political, social and human collateral damage?
Hey, I’m on Facebook. It’s complicated. But somehow I think we need to aim for more human-scale relationship building that don’t outsource targeting of lookalike audiences to an unregulated corporation.
That means, I think, more tools people can use to create news and fewer platforms for sharing news. More members and fewer audiences. More teaching people to tell stories and less talking about storytelling.
If you think this edition of Bright Ideas is interesting (dare we say useful?), please forward it along or share it on Twitter, LinkedIn or Facebook. You could share it on Instgram but that would be weird. Get this from a friend? Want to subscribe? Head over here.
“Like most coverage, but perhaps more than most coverage, the writing about immigration has been suffering from what I think of as Trumpian drift. Journalists casually use terms like crossing the border illegally when referring to asylum seekers—when in fact there is no law that says they must use the ports of entry. Journalists increasingly buy into the framing of immigration policy as a strategy for preventing people from entering the United States. And then there is the conspicuous use of the words caravan and migrant to refer to people fleeing for safety. – Masha Gessen
Nonprofits and civil society are – or should be – modeling inclusive behavior that helps all consider the impact our work has on the whole community: the powerless, not just members, wealthy donors or the loudest voices. Thanks to Paul de Gregorio for sharing this one.
The constant pressure of tracking everything is burning out journalists. And I know that many activists and campaigners feel the same way as reporters John Crowley spoke to for this piece at Nieman Lab. A few things: (1) Stop reporting on Trump’s tweets. They exist only to overwhelm media bandwidth and make everything about him. (2) We hear a lot about tech solutions to info overload, turning off notifications, and self-care. All good (phone notifications are truly evil). But, as Crowley points out, much of this is driven by management and leaders who support systems that place professional and personal value on constant work.
So…who actually does what in high-performing digital comms team? Every organization is churning out content. Very few are well-staffed for it. The good folks at Contentius put together this smart field guide to content roles.
Get your BuzzFeed tote bag now. It’s free when you make your $100 membership payment. Pretty cynical tone to this piece by Christine Schmidt for NiemanLab but it seems meaningful that a private media company with a household name is scrambling to try every membership experiment it can. Curious how membership as a BuzzWord hooks on here but I’m rooting for the great writers there.
This great little piece from Transparency International shares five ways to help people engage in campaigns. It’s insights that go beyond anti-corruption activism to support most any issue and the communications around it. All orgs could benefit from a user-centered focus on accessibility, safety, relevance, credibility and responsiveness.
A few great roles at the intersection of digital, content, creative and campaigning. Have one to share? Click reply and let me know. Have an idea of your next perfect role but not finding it? Send me a note.
Chicago-based Hearken helps newsrooms listen to and engage the public on the way to building public trust and stronger stories. They’re hiring US-based engagement consultants to work with their 150 (and growing) clients. Engagement consultants should have newsroom experience but, as the description says, “please don’t be discouraged if your title doesn’t include engagement-related words.”
Free Press has several campaigning/organizing roles open: Campaign Manager, Online Community Manager and Digital Manager. Free Press is leading the fight for net neutrality in the US by, in part, engaging tens of thousands of volunteer activists. The team is based in western Massachusetts, Washington, DC, and remote locations around the US.
New Citizenship Project is doing smart work helping orgs and campaigns engage people in more meaningful and powerful ways. The London-based group is bringing on a Strategist. Check it out if you’re over that way.
United for Iran is hiring a Civic Technology Program Director based in Berkeley. Great group and should be a wonderful opportunity to do innovative work. Note: must be fluent in Farsi.
I don’t know much about Communitas America but this Program Manager role that will run coworking and a social venture accelerator looks super interesting. Based in the Bronx.
Greenpeace is filling two Media and Digital Analyst roles to guide the global organization’s tracking and learning from social media, news, and all the other bits that fly around the internets. Flexible location.
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights is hiring a DC-based Digital Director.
Transparency in campaigning isn’t just about sharing campaign plans, making videos and being authentic on social media. That’s all important and can build relationships and increase name awareness. But there’s one level of transparency that’s about talking a lot – and openly. And there’s another level of transparency that involves opening yourself up to risk and inviting others to share that risk with you.
For candidates like O’Rourke and Ocasio-Cortez, sharing their day to day life builds name recognition. For activists, sharing plans and giving supporters tools to act independently is about trust and scaling impact.
But, shifting gears a bit, transparency creates personal and strategic risks. And it’s precisely the risk of opening up yourself, your organization, your plans, to others that makes transparency powerful.
Last week I read Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen. The book is Jose Antonio Vargas’s memoir that begins with him being sent from the Philippines to the U.S. at 12 years old to live with his grandparents. From that point forward his childhood was about as “normal” as any California teenage could experience.
That changed when Vargas turned 16 and went to get a driver’s license. He was turned away because he didn’t have the right identification. He went home and found out from his grandfather that he was undocumented. His family sent him to the U.S. without going through the “proper” immigration channels. After living in the U.S. for four, ten or 20 years the only legal option is to abandon the life he’s built, return to a Philippines that he no longer knows and wait for 10 or more years to possibly immigrate to the country he grew up in.
In 2011, Vargas wrote My Life as an Undocumented Immigrant. He came out as undocumented, practically inviting the government to deport him. Looking back, he writes in Dear America:
I am not hiding from my government. My government is hiding from me. At least that’s how it’s felt in the past seven years, living a public life while practicing what I call “radical transparency,” which has taken on various forms.
Transparency, it seems, protects Vargas. His visibility has turned him into a spokesperson. Deporting Vargas would cause more problems than it would solve for people and agencies opposed to immigration.
But transparency – or at least Vargas’s approach to it – has done something else in this case. Basically, it seems there are a couple levels of transparency. One involves openness and exposure. It means talking about your plans, releasing documents and inviting outsiders and other people make their voice heard – even weigh in.
This is the transparency of open government and open campaigning. It’s valuable. It means people can engage because they’re no longer in the dark. But it can remain exclusive. The agency, organization, staff still makes decisions and is ultimately responsible for what happens.
Another level of transparency invites people in to help make the decisions. People don’t just know what’s going on, they have a hand in deciding whether actions are good or bad and how to respond. In the end, this transparency makes everyone involved responsible – and puts them at risk.
This is the transparency of movement building. Vargas talks of helping to organize 30+ undocumented young people to travel across country for a Time magazine cover photo. Vargas could easily make his case about the immigration system and undocumented people without dozens of them joining him and putting themselves at risk. But by putting themselves on the line these people are showing that other people are also willing to be radically transparent for this cause. They’re modeling transparency and leadership for others.
Vargas goes on to speak at length about transparency and how, as a journalist, it is easier for him to be transparent on the outside than in his personal life. Living as an undocumented person who works, pays taxes, and obeys laws also means not having the right to vote, drive, cross the border. It also means living with knowing you could be removed from the country and lose your job, relationships, family and friends overnight.
Transparency is complicated and has personal/private as well as public/political layers.
You’re going to grapple with transparency if you’re a political candidate, running a political campaign or working on an advocacy effort. Social media, the web and open data have all changed the public’s perception of how much and what kind of transparency is required.
Consistently opening up yourself (or your campaign), your ideas and beliefs, and your plans for putting those beliefs into action in the physical world invites others to do the same alongside you. It’s important to think about whether you really want that – and to commit to the level of transparency that you need.
Let’s strengthen organizations, raise more money and scale up impact by speeding up how we learn about and position membership programs.
A membership innovation community of practice will identify and speed understanding of what’s working, best practices and innovation across a broad range of communications, engagement, fundraising, and organizing activities in nonprofits, journalism, political campaigns and social-good business.
We believe membership – people joining, investing in, learning from, and acting in partnership with others – is (or could be) a strong framework for scaling deep and sustainable activism and healthier organizations. This brief provides a path towards testing that idea.
Membership is critical to sustaining relevance, revenue and sustainability.
Membership has a long, global history. Groups like the Sierra Club, Audubon Society, National Geographic, Consumers Union and League of Women Voters are membership based.
Labor unions are membership-driven as are cooperatives (local grocery co-ops, for example, and outdoor stores like REI in the United States and MEC in Canada).
Community groups (Rotary Club, garden clubs) and trade associations are also membership based. And millions of people become members associations like the American Association of Retired Persons People every year.
People become members by investing money and time. In many cases, people receive career guidance, networking, volunteer opportunities, discounted products, invitations to events and more.
What is membership? For the purposes of this brief, we view membership as having three parts:
People investing in an organization.
An organization investing in people.
A framework that binds together the interests of people and an organization.
Why do people become members of an organization? The simplest reason: because they’re asked. Usually by people they know. Most members enter an organization with at least one active relationship.
Members receive access to services and benefits for the time, money and personal capital they offer groups. Members are often given opportunities to meet, interact and learn from one another. People also learn and improve skills, take on volunteer roles and eventually become leaders. In many advocacy organizations, membership offers people an opportunity to directly engage with others and the organization in actions around a shared mission or vision for the world.
Let’s assume there’s some value (or at least a bit of accuracy) in the above definition of membership, it’s historical presence and why people put their hard-earned money and time into an organization as a member.
It’s worth noting that the public service journalism sector is looking to membership as a path towards revenue growth and sustainability as well as knowledge and service. The Membership Puzzle Project is one example of that sector’s search for stronger member-driven skills and projects.
Today, nonprofits (both advocacy and community service groups), associations and journalism/media organizations (nonprofit and for-profit) use a variety of membership models to secure direct and indirect support.
Membership programs are usually built around and optimized for fundraising. People are asked for a minimal amount of time – a $30 donation, a Facebook follow, an email address. They receive a thank you (hopefully). They are passed into the hands of staff running fundraising and advocacy programs.
Membership programs are typically separate from organizing and communications. Software/CRMs may track donations and email opens. But software only does what the people using it ask. Organizations do little to build member relationships (or, in other words, do little to invest in the needs of members). People are either bombarded by messaging in their inboxes and social media feeds. Or receive little at all.
Everyone is concerned about impact. Many people want to work with others to have a direct impact. People in are looking for opportunities to invest not just their money but their time, skills and experience. They’re looking for anchors – places to hook their attention, build relationships, learn more and do good.
Meanwhile, organizations are dealing with solving transactional problems like high membership growth costs and/or churn. Most members would be surprised to learn that the most important calculation of their relationship is aquisition cost and lifetime value. The constant need to replace members creates an endless search for new people, new lists, new audiences – attention taken away from deepening and sustaining membership.
People are looking for consistency and impact are hearing about crises and immediate needs. It gets attention. But we lose attention, tune out, and move on to another crisis.
Worse, people are losing faith in nonprofit organizations. It’s a problem for the causes and communities in which we work who are not consistently served by a committed group of supporters.
Thousands of nonprofit organizations have decades of data about membership programs. Yet, too often, membership teams are sidelined to focus on marginal list growth strategies. Conversations about innovation, sustainability, scale and value TO members get set aside.
We need to rethink what membership can be. It’s time to share lessons, test outside the box, build partnerships across sectors (and inside organizations).
Creating Modern Membership Models
Now is the time to look at new membership models. Membership teams and their partners across the organization, nonprofit and NGO leaders, and even members themselves need new and empowering membership models that can engage and even excite people.
To get there, the sector needs testing and learning, networking and training, and many more opportunities to unleash creativity.
We believe that networks of people working in and around membership programs (everyone from membership teams to organizing, volunteering, fundraising and other roles) will create stronger organizations – and more powerful outcomes – with opportunities and resources to more rapidly learn, test and master membership programming across their organizations, campaigns and teams.
This is a time of declining trust in institutions. And it’s not just government. NGOs, nonprofits and even small orgs face questions from constituents and potential supporters about finances, diversity, leadership, sexual harassment and more. Media and news organizations rely on reader (and source) trust to stay in business.
Membership programs invite and build trust by increasing transparency and direct investment in an organization’s mission, values and operation.
More people than ever are engaging in advocacy and political campaigns as volunteers, activists and leaders. Nonprofit organizations can better learn from organizing campaigns – even those under their own roof – to build stronger membershp programs.
Sustainable funding remains critical to the long-term health of nonprofit organizations. Nonprofits are raising money and figuring out monthly donor programs but aren’t innovating membership in ways that deepens affiliation to sustain themselves for long time and grow leaders.
Meanwhile, journalism organizations and others are looking towards advocacy and struggling to find/implement membership models and practices.
There is a place for renewed, revitalized and re-imagined membership in nonprofit advocacy and organizations. Some of this work is already happening in public service journalism through the efforts of The Membership Puzzle, the Coral Project, Open News and others. These projects demonstrate the value that testing and networking around membership and engagement bring to communities of practitioners.
We envision a project that advances membership innovation in nonprofits, collaborates with other sectors and ongoing projects to share learning, and makes it possible for far more people to become more sustainably engaged in social good and community change.
Goals of this project
Here’s what we believe this work can accomplish:
Revitalize the membership field so that a wider range of organizations and campaigns can reach more people, engage people more efficiently and sustainably, and promote growth of leadership, revenue and program innovation.
Build a learning community of people working in and around membership. This may include people in nonprofits, NGOs, advocacy groups, political campaigns and social movements, associations, trade groups and labor unions, journalism and community media and more.
Rapidly share data and resources needed to test membership and related programs in fundraising, organizing, mobilization, volunteering and leadership.
Identify and assess a variety of new and existing membership models that organizations, funders, consultants and members can apply, learn from, test and iterate upon.
Create a culture of measurement, testing, reporting, iteration and transparency that supports broader membership program innovation.
What would doing this actually look like? Here’s an idea:
Create a network through baseline research and reporting.
Survey a broad cross-section of people involved in members
Get direct and subjective feedback on
What’s working and what’s not?
Who’s doing good, great, creative work and thinking in membership?
Bring subset to a kick-off meeting/event/conference where diverse group meets, networks, shares learning, creates plans for next steps in community
Identify what needs to be measured/evaluated for project impact and success.
Continue growing and sustaining a network of membership innovators and leaders.
Online/offline community (could range from just email list/facebook group to one or more in person events in different locations)
Identify need for and create training materials
Identify and showcase membership innovation and testing in the wild.
Membership Innovation Showcase and/or Membership impact guide. Read more.
Inspiration / Background / More Reading
Who’s thinking about this now? We’ll continue updating this list as we find/receive ideas.