Tag - matterness

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More Thoughts on Matterness for Associations
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The Gift of Making Others Matter
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Action Cascades Over Viral Videos
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Verizon and Anti-Matterness
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Why Giving Matters More Than Receiving
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3 Steps to Go-Go Juice
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ALS’ Happy Problem
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Adding Matterness Into Your Holiday Giving

More Thoughts on Matterness for Associations

Screen Shot 2015-11-17 at 7.38.26 PMEarlier this year, I had a terrific opportunity to share my thoughts about Matterness with associations on a webinar hosted by Wild Apricot. (You can watch the full recording of the webinar here. Go ahead, it was great fun!)

We had lots of participants in the webinar really digging in deep exploring ways to strengthen their relationships with their members. I was delighted to work closely with Wild Apricot (they’re terrific!) and to get to know their members better.

I have been reflecting a bit on what I shared in the webinar and what I have learned since in my new consultancy, Matterness Consulting (naturally!) in partnership with Debra Askanase.

On the webinar, I shared the basic outlines of Matterness with the hundreds of attendees. We talked about how it can be challenging to look at their efforts through the eyes of their members, why it’s critically important to work with their members through back-and-forth conversations not broadcasting at them, and, finally, the opportunity to find places to experiment with a new approach in the new year.

In just a few months of our practice we have already learned an amazing amount.

Here are the three key things that we are learning in our deep engagements with organizations:

  1. Matterness is at the heart of donor and member retention. We all know that it is far less expensive to retain current supporters than find new ones, and yet organizations routinely lose customers/donors/members at an alarming rate. Matterness is about remaking the relationship between people and institutions, and our consulting work is beginning to demonstrate that by doing so, organizations increase their retention rates.
  2. A little Matterness goes a long way. Everyone is frantically busy, but it is that very busyness, the intense focus on process and to-dos, that too often pushes stakeholders away. When you ask people when have they felt like they matter, like we did on the Wild Apricot webinar, are very small, fundamentally human recognition. A thank you call. A quick and personal response to a question or problem. A connection made to other people and resources. And this is where the board can come in. There are wonderful opportunities to engage board members as your Matterness ambassadors. Ask them to call members and thank them for their participation. Have them host lunches at their offices for local members. Encourage them to participate in efforts online to highlight the work of individual members. Whether you are a tiny organization or one with thousands of members,   you can reach more people by recognizing that the responsibility for making people feel like they matter rests with the board as well as the staff.
  3. Need to shift the leadership lens. Even though acts of Matterness can be small, even these efforts require a culture shift for a lot of organizations because it requires a shift in focus away from what the organization does and towards how members feel. Everything the organization does has to be focused on whether and how we are making members known, heard and empowered. The only way to ensure that organization maintain this focus is to measure it on a regular basis. We measure what we value, and there we have to measure how effective we are in making our members feel known, heard and empowered.

We are just beginning to understand the causality between making people feel known and retention rates. We are in the process of developing a Matterness assessment tool to start to develop measures for understanding and improving Matterness over time. (And would love any thoughts any of you have about that.) I look forward to again sharing what we are learning in a few months!

In the meantime, you know, just in case you missed the plug above, feel free to watch Wild Apricot webinar and learn the key principles of Matterness!

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The Gift of Making Others Matter

It is a sad week in our family. My husband’s aunt Beverly passed away from cancer on Sunday, her funeral is this week. It was far too soon for such a vibrant, energetic, life-loving person to go.

Our last visit with her was about two weeks ago. During our time with her she told us a powerful story that perfectly captures why it is so important to make other people matter in your life.

When she was first sick a friend asked her what he could for her. As was her nature and habit, she said she was fine and that there was nothing he could do. Bev expected him to say something like, “OK, well, just let me know if there’s some way I can help.” Instead, he called her selfish. She was shocked. I’m the sick one, she thought, how can I be selfish? He read her mind and said, “You’re selfish because you are not giving me any way to feel better by helping you.”

We matter when we help other people. We can help other people matter more by giving them meaningful things to do. Shutting them out by saying, “I’ve got this,” is basically telling people that they don’t matter, that they have nothing to offer and no gifts to give.

The next time your organization sends out an update on a program or a press release or a request for donations, think about adding specific, meaningful things they can do to matter more. Not window dressing, not a vote that won’t be counted or just saying yes to something you’ve already decided. Give them something important to do to support your efforts – send an email to five friends to raise awareness of our issue, post a review on Yelp, bring toiletries to a shelter, come and answer phones for a night. They’ll feel better and your cause will be better.

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Action Cascades Over Viral Videos

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 12.15.52 PMInvisible Children announced yesterday that it is closing its doors. You may not know the organization, but you almost certainly know their signature effort, the Kony 2012 video.

The video is very long, 30  minutes, on an obscure topic and was an instant viral sensation. It now has over 100 million views on YouTube. The video was an amazing piece of storytelling, alas, it was filled with half-truths. Moreover, the organization however was a mess roiled by mercurial and incompetent management.

All organizations should be managed better than Invisible Children or risk rightly going out of business. But there is another lesson here worth considering.

In Matterness, I discuss the need for organizations to shift their thinking from viral videos to action cascades. A viral video is a stand alone event. It certainly feels good to have lots of people watching what you have produced and sharing it with others. But there needs to be something to do baked into it. Max Siderov took the viral video of Karen Klein being bullied on a school bus outside of Rochester and turned it into an action cascade by raising money for Karen on Indiegogo. [Note: I put the link to the video of Karen being bullied here for context, but I don’t recommend watching it, it is cruel and shouldn’t be honored with a viewing.]

Organizations are too often rushing to create content that they hope will go viral without enough thought of giving people quick, easy and meaningful things to do to support an effort.There is no  way to guarantee that something will go viral, but there are ways to ensure that people could take constructive action as a result of watching it. The best actions to encourage are very specific ones. Not just share the video, but send it to three friends and ask them to do the same.

The Ice Bucket Challenge was an action cascade. The effort spread so widely not because of the videos, but because of the personal challenge to other specific people to do the same or donate within 24 hours.

My advice to people creating stories is to make sure the story is emotional and well-told, but also make sure it is connected to bite-size actions to turn it into a cascade of doing.

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Verizon and Anti-Matterness

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 12.27.04 PMAs you all know, I am currently immersed in Matterness, the space where organizations make their people matter more. Where they listen more than they speak, engage as real human beings and work with not at people. The only problem with this mindset is that it makes the inevitable instances of anti-Matterness are even more startling and stark. In addition, the usual suspects like a doctor’s office or a telecom are almost too easy to criticize because, well, you know why.

Nonetheless, I need to tell you about how much anti-Matterness is baked into Verizon.

We had a service call scheduled for last Tuesday. They sent an email saying the service person would be here between 8 am – 8 pm. Hmmm, seems like a pretty big window. So, I called and was told they couldn’t make the window any smaller. So, I did what I do and took to Twitter. And there I got an immediate response, the service technician would be here between 3-5 pm. Here was the rest of our conversation via Twitter:

  • Why wouldn’t the telephone people tell me this?
  • Because they don’t have the data.
  • Why do you have the data?
  • Because our group focuses on escalated complaints.
  • This wouldn’t be escalated if the telephone people told me this.
  • That’s our policy.

Of course, the anti-Matterness here is egregious, but there is also something else interesting going on. Verizon considers Twitter the place where customers go to yell at them. Now, they get yelled on the telephone, too, but Twitter yelling is public for the world to see. Therefore, the job of the Twitter group is to quiet complaints very quickly. Instead of the whole system being engaged in making customers matter, the system is organized to give out as little information as possible and to mollify customers who start to squeak. This really is a Bizarro-world way of working with customers.

If anyone has any insights as to why Verizon works this way, I’d love to hear it.

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Why Giving Matters More Than Receiving

Screen Shot 2014-12-03 at 9.06.51 PMOn the heels of the wildly successful #GivingTuesday (first estimates put money raised at nearly $46 million just online, more than double last year’s total!) the idea of giving is in the air.

My friend Lisa Colton told me an interesting story today. She was facilitating a board retreat recently and asked the participants to pair up and talk about when they felt that they really mattered. The room was abuzz, she said, as the participants shared their stories with one another. When they reconvened she asked, “How many people heard stories about feeling like you matter when you receive something?” One person raised their hand. Then she asked the opposite question, “How many people heard a story about feeling like you mattered when you gave something?”  Forty-four hands went up. 44!

Of course, the old axiom, “It’s better to give than receive,” immediately comes to mind. But in an organizational context there is more to it than that. People want to be of service to organizations that they care about. However, as organizations became more professionalized over the last century, it seemed to be easier, faster, more efficient, less painstaking, for staff people to do more and more, for organizations to hire people to do jobs that volunteers used to do. Just because volunteers may not be available on Tuesday mornings anymore doesn’t mean that people don’t want to participate in meaningful and creative ways to help organizations. Instead, too many organizations have substituted fundraising for engagement.

Social media provide great opportunities for people to matter by contributing in lots of ways. People can help raise awareness of an issue, problem solve, gather people for discussions, do online research. The opportunities are almost endless for the ways that people can matter more to organizations. The challenge is for organizations, and their leaders, to see this as amazing opportunities to involve many more people in many more interesting ways! #GivingTuesday is a beginning, now we need a year round effort by organizations to make everyone matter more.

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3 Steps to Go-Go Juice

It is just about a week from the launch of my new book, Matterness: What Fearless Leaders Know About the Power and Promise of Social Media! Here is an excerpt published last week in the Nonprofit Times about the variety of different ways organizations (and people) have available to them to raise capital for their efforts. They called it 3 Steps to Creating New Capital. I used Go-Go Juice for this post because anytime I can write or say go-go juice, I think I should. Same thing for whackadoodles and wingnuts!

Three Steps to Go-Go Juice

Gathering crowds to help your cause is an essential part of working in a networked world. Crowds create capital, or “go-go juice,” that can include human connections, intelligence and expertise, resources like equipment and furniture, and, of course, money. Ideas and ventures that would have been impossible when capital was scarce are now possible because of social media platforms like Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Creating capital is an essential part of what I call “Matterness,” wherein the interests and talents of people meet the needs of organizations.

Crowds can be difficult for organizations to work with because people come and go as they please, not necessarily according to the wishes of organizations. Here are the three essential steps for turning crowds into organizational go-go juice:

Understanding the Need. The first question to be answered is: Exactly what kind of “go-go juice” do we need? As mentioned above, crowds can contribute lots of different skills and resources, however, too often organizations think of them only as potential check writers. Simply asking what kind of creative go-go juice we need helps to change the internal thinking of organizations used to doing everything by themselves internally. Thinking creatively about working with crowds is a way for organizations to move from working at people to working with them.

Creating “No Fake” Zones. Crowd members want real, meaningful opportunities to help an organization. Fake requests like: Send me money today, or my opponent will win and send your children to Russia for kindergarten! do more harm than good. Fakery also include messages that look like they are from real people but are from black-hole email addresses like “no reply.” Social media are conversational vehicles. People are smart, they can see through artificial requests for help that are really just excuses to ask for donations and opportunities to capture contact information. Building trust with a crowd is essential to keeping people engaged longer.

Following As Well As Leading. There are times when what an organization wants to get is different from what constituents want to give. When this happens it is smarter for an organization to become a follower rather than a leader. Organizations need to be on the lookout for crowds that form that can enhance their efforts — but beware, these crowds cannot be “owned” by organizations. Leaders need to focus on Matterness in these instances and find the sweet spot that exists between what crowds what to give and what an organization needs. It’s there, it just may take some conversations between the crowd and the organization for it to emerge.

Successfully leading crowds takes clarity of purpose, intentionality, and some elbow grease. People need to be treated with dignity and respect, which means ensuring that their time and intelligence are respected and used well. Organizers need to think clearly about specific benefits to the crowd participants that are mutually beneficial, not to the exclusive benefit of either organizations or their crowds.

 

 

 

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ALS’ Happy Problem

Screen Shot 2014-10-06 at 1.51.20 PMWhat would you do with an extra $100 million? That’s the happy problem facing the ALS Association after this summer’s mega-viral ice bucket challenge. According to the ALS, the Challenge raised over $100 million from over 3 million people. Compared to $2.3 million last summer.

One of the first thing the organization did was let it’s command and control default setting get the best of it by trying to trademark the Challenge. As I’ve written before, the Challenge was powered friend to friend until the media picked it up. It is unlikely to be replicated at this scale again, nor should it be “owned” by an organization. ALS was the lucky recipient of a lucky and very generous event.

Back to the original question. The organization recently announced a three-fold increase in funding research from $7 million to $21 million. Eighty-five million to go.

Rather than doing more of the same, ALS has an opportunity to experiment with a different way of working. Unlike almost every other organization churning as fast they can for the next donation, the organization can take a deep breath and a step back and think about how to engage all of those new donors. Most of their 3 million new people are one-time donors, having participated in the Challenge because it was fun and social. But a small percentage of them can become regular supporters.

Here are a three ways ALS could begin to infuse their efforts with Matterness, the willingness of the organization to work different and demonstrate that everyone in their network can be important and heard, that will help it sustain it’s momentum over time.

1. Get Conversational. ALS has a nice presence on Facebook with nearly 340,000 Likes, presumably most of them new friends. The organization, though, continues to use the site as a billboard. The first thing to do with all of these new friends is to prove to them that they are part of the crafting of the organization’s new agenda, made possible by their donations. This is going to be very difficult for an organization that largely funds scientific research. They can put the parameters out there that a certain amount of their budget needs to be dedicated to research selected through, say, peer review panels. But there is still a significant amount of money to play with. How about dedicated 10% of whatever the organization has as discretionary funds now to whatever the community chooses to do with it. Start the conversation and see where it goes from there.

2. Find Some Little Bites. Not the snack food, the opportunity for all of ALS’ new friends to do something to help. Since the organization has the luxury, right now, of not asking for money, quite a difference again for the traditional nonprofit experience, it can instead find some interesting ways for people to help. Maybe there is some research on facilities treating people with ALS these new folks could help catalog. Or perhaps there are some new medical data sets being created through Obama care that the network could help crunch. Or collect information about ways that governments overseas are helping ALS patients. Anything that required too much manpower before is now on the table for the new ALS network to tackle. But, please, please, please, ALS, don’t do this work by hiring professionals to do it alone, inside the organization. You have a huge network of people who want to help, find some ways to put them to work.

3. Tell Stories. Make the funding of ALS personal. Invite people with ALS and their families to tell their stories of ways that the increased funding could help them. Just as the donors need to be properly thanked, the people battling the disease need to be recognized and given a voice.

 

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Adding Matterness Into Your Holiday Giving

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[Note: This article is cross-posted at the Nonprofit Times.]

#Giving Tuesday was , more or less kicking off the giving season. Studies show that more than one-third of all annual giving to causes happens from October through December, with more than 17 percent in December alone.

Most organizations have already spent considerable time and energy planning their year-end fundraising campaigns. But too many of these efforts will lack what I call matterness.

Matterness is the deep desire we all have to count, to be heard, to be considered important as individuals and not just donors or customers.

I asked my friends online when and how nonprofits have made them feel as if they don’t matter. The litany of complaints began: When they spell my name wrong; When I send in a donation and the next month get another ask; and, When I go to an event and am treated like a stranger. It is a lonely, alienating, dehumanizing experience to be treated like you don’t matter.

Everyone has something important to contribute to a cause — ideas, time, expertise, and, of course, money. Too often, organizations treat donors just as current or potential check writers. And once the first check is written, we are coded, batched and categorized in an automated giving system to be asked over and over again.

It happens because of the overwhelming pressure on organizations to meet their financial goals. The mantra of constant growth is one of the poor lessons taken from the for-profit world that nonprofits have adopted. Nonprofits don’t need to grow bigger. They need to better connect with other people and organizations in more meaningful ways to be more effective. Treating individuals like they don’t really matter, as opposed to treating them like passionate, smart, creative, social beings, is a huge lost opportunity for organizations.

Here are a few ways organizations can begin to build matterness into year-end giving this year:

Stories Over Testimonials. Stories are about people, testimonials are about organizations. People stories are what inspires and moves people. Here is a great story produced by Dove soap about how women feel about their looks. The stories don’t mention Dove soap, and Dove’s sales increased. You don’t have to create stories like this one, your people have beautiful, moving stories to tell and your job is to find them and help tell them.

Thanking People Publicly. The idea of thanking every donor personally is, of course, overwhelming. However, there is an opportunity to showcase your thankfulness by taking to your social media channels and thanking one person publicly as a representative of others. Thank the donor who has been giving $10 every month for years. Call out the volunteer who spent hours organizing meals for other volunteers, or the board member who put up a match for the annual campaign. By helping them to tell their story about your cause and thanking them personally and publicly, others will feel good about how your organization treats its people.

Solve Problems Together. Too often the social media channels are used as online press releases. Places to push out “look how great we are” information that no one really cares about. Making people feel that they matter means asking them to help solve real problems. Not window dressing problems (e.g. should our event be great or super great?) but real ones. This is a better alternative to, “Thank you for bringing this to our attention, we will take it under advisement.”

An organization I know did this by taking the complaint about getting too many emails to their Facebook group. We know how it feels to get too many emails, the group wrote, but we have information we think you need to know. How can we do this better? People chimed in and the solution was to segment the list and have people opt into the topics that were of greatest interest. Their participants felt appreciated, smart and important.

Matterness means that someone is really listening to your interests and concerns, that you are being cared for not just cared about, and that you have opportunities to help strengthen the institution. In return, institutions get the best kind of participant, a “sticky” one (To Keep Your Customers, Keep it Simple, Patrick Spenner and Karen Freeman, Aug 9, 2013, HBR) who is a repeat donor or volunteer and ambassador who recommends the organization to other people.

 

 

 

 

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