Future Community is a blog and newsletter dedicated to sharing experiences, ideas and stories that define how we build and manage community. We looking for innovation, inspiration, case studies, lessons from history and efforts to redefine the future.
- How content strategy builds relationships and grows revenueWe’re looking at how organizations undervalue the first, and often only, thing people coming to them experience – their content. The articles, stories, blog posts, photos, videos, emails, and social posts are all opportunities for connection, not just attention. Here’s why that is and how to think strategically about content for connection.
- What’s trauma got to do with it?Too many communities, including our members and supporters, are dealing with fear and trauma. It can affect people’s ability to engage in community work, volunteering, and even donating. How can organizations help communities and supporters recognize and deal with fear and trauma?
- We all stay. Except maybe the donors. Where are they going?In 2022 there were fewer donors and donations to nonprofits. Perhaps donors recognize that repairing communities and society is long-term work – the kind many organizations aren’t committed to doing.
- About that stupendous fundraising match in your inboxAll the fancy tech and supporter data in the world is wasted if you treat people poorly. A look at how honesty and transparency is good for donor retention.
- Why people stayCan we build email, donor and supporter lists with value and trust instead of churning through names? Let’s recognize the value people seek in organizations and invest in giving them value and keeping them around.
- Give people stuff they can useIn late-2021, Intuit completed its acquisition of the once wee newsletter provider Mailchimp. Intuit paid $12 billion in cash and stock. Substack announced this week that newsletters hosted by the platform had over 20 million active subscribers and 2 million paid subscriptions. Some folks think there is money to be made in email. Given the financial structures needed to host, … Read more
- How scale kills campaignsWe’ve long been told that we need scale for impact. What if our quest for growth and reach sacrifices impact? Here are four ways to seek social impact and growth without scale.
- On ImaginationThe world’s biggest problems can often be traced back to a complete lack of imagination. We fail imagine a better future. We see broken systems as unchangeable. We fight over the meaning of history (in books, politics, immigration, economies, gender and so much more) because we don’t have the capacity to imagine the systems for living together in abundance. Organizations, … Read more
- Complete Control: The Clash on corporate social media and email.The Clash were known as a band who loved their audience. They also demanded control over their music. They learned that corporations control communication between band and audience. This was the 1970s, long before social media. But their experience offers insights into how organizations control (or don’t) their communicat
- Boom goes the Twitter: 5 lessons about content and community as Twitter implodes.Many of the nonprofit-oriented email lists and Slack groups I am on have had multiple threads titled (more or less): what are you doing about Twitter? So far, the smart money isn’t betting against Twitter: “don’t leave…wait and see…maybe set up over on Mastodon or something…download your Twitter history…surely it will exist in some form so keep your group/personal account … Read more
- Why We Need a New Organizational Operating LanguageThe case for community-centered languages that help groups succeed in chaos and complexity. Organizations exist in a complex landscape. It’s hard to make sense of economic, political and climate chaos. How do you make plans for hiring and fundraising when you face existential questions about the ability, even the need, to meet your mission? The nonprofits/NGOs with whom I typically … Read more
- How community drives narrative changeNarrative change happens in communities. Here are key questions you need to answer about community when doing narrative work.
- Community LanguageA look at how language builds community, can leave people behind and and ways to open up community language.
- Grief and the future of communityShould organizations, campaigns and movements that build community or run membership programs do more to acknowledge grief and engage in ways their members experience it?
- Community and mutual aidYou’re not building community if you’re not building infrastructures for self-healing and sustainable mutual aid. Potential and problems for a mutual aid focus in community.
- Membership architectures to create powerWe talk with Ben Pollard, the founder of London-based Local Welcome about building community, crafting leadership, learning and resilience.
- Five questions to ask about membershipFive questions you can use to get to the center of your community’s who, what and why.
- Too much content. Too few storytellers.The internet and social media disrupt the relationship between story and how we understand the world around us. The other day I wrote this about storytelling and content strategy in a project brief for a potential client: The candidate (or party, group, movement, government) who controls the narrative has an inside track on guiding people’s hearts, minds and passions. Even … Read more
- The incentives are all wrongIt’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. A crisis a day makes good information go away There’s a lot of fallout when multiple political and social crises … Read more
- Content is a forest. Don’t just count the trees.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 … Read more
- Change happens when people tell their story – not yoursAn intention for 2019 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 … Read more
- Bright Ideas: O Facebook What Art Thou?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. … Read more
- Defining transparencyTransparency 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 â€“ and openly. And there’s another level of transparency that involves opening yourself up to risk and inviting others to share … Read more
- Accelerating membership innovationLet’s strengthen organizations, raise more money and scale up impact by speeding up how we learn about and position membership programs.
- What is membership?Iâ€™m working on a project aimed at assessing (and rethinking?) how diverse communities of people working in nonprofits, associations, journalism and social good approach membership. The process includes understanding what membership is â€“ and what it isnâ€™t. Most people working in the field â€“ and members themselves â€“ have a sense of it. But there is no one clear definition … Read more
- Helping people create change by helping peopleBright Ideas: How stories, strategy, people and tech are creating change. This is Bright+3’s email newsletter. Subscribe now. 25 September, 2018 Do you need a digital team, what roles would be on it and who would be included? Good questions. Iâ€™m skeptical that most organizations need a digital team so much as need digital first leadership and cultures. I wrote … Read more
- Thinking about Digital Strategy and TeamsHow do you think about digital strategy and the role or placement of digital teams in your organization? Great question and here’s some ideas and resources.
- Power-full storytelling for changeCan we create powerful (and “power-full”) storytellingÂ for advocacy that shifts power toÂ people and communities so they mayÂ better control the change they seek? The “traditional” framework for advocacy storytelling is built around persuading those who aren’t directly affected – or who aren’t currently engaged – to empathize and act. This is a good way to go when what you need are … Read more
- Great Content : Stronger Content StrategiesWe help organizations develop and implement content strategies that create the conditions for more people to learn, act and lead change in their communities.
Creating great content
- Better Data : Better ContentWe combine a focus on content strategy, organizing, and campaign data to help leaders create content programs that engage more people while better supporting fundraising, marketing and program goals.
Bringing together data and content