I Don’t Care About Your Cause
How many Facebook, Twitter, or Social Networking invites do you get about someone’s cause? How many emails have ended up in your inbox with an invitation to support, vote for, or join a network around a cause? What percentage of these cause invitations you receive do you actually support in some tangible way?
I think most of us would agree that most causes are definitely worth supporting. They are lead by phenomenal people who genuinely care about injustice in the world. Our world is a better place because of their presence and passion.
As a person who regularly works with and for non-profits, it can be discouraging at times to see the lack of direct correlation between followers and committed participants. I thought I would offer the following insights to those who may be leading a non-profit or cause.
A Sober Look at “Followers”:
Not everyone who “follows” your cause is really supporting your efforts beyond a click to follow, join or retweet. In fact, most probably joined your efforts out of some kind of relational obligation (e.g., a friend invited them to join on Facebook) or general passion towards the issue (e.g., they just saw a film or were inspired by an event). It’s not that they don’t care about the issue, it’s just that they really don’t have (or want) bandwidth to get involved beyond the surface connect. For others, they’ve joined to just see what you’re doing or with a desire to broaden their own work or network (i.e., strictly research-based or professional).
Creating a Healthy Perspective:
- Don’t be discouraged. It’s ok! 🙂 Don’t be too hard on yourself or the people that “follow”. Be encouraged and optimistic about the fact that (for whatever reason) people are indeed following.
- Celebrate the “fringe”. No organization can be totally healthy if everyone is a part of the core. We need the fringe to draw us out into areas that we have yet to consider. The fringe also keep us humble. They will remind us that not everyone has our passion for a cause. In addition, they will introduce comments or questions that may at first appear to be unrelated or even confrontational, but may end up being some of our best ideas. Therefore, be sure to LISTEN to the fringe, even those who appear to be complaining about how you do things even if they don’t lift a finger to participate.
- Don’t confuse number of followers with impact. Stats can really be misleading. It’s usually encouraging to see lots of followers, but keep in mind that you will need to identify the real number of people who believe in what you do. Numbers can bring about disillusionment. Focus on working with those who are already committed while inviting those on the fence to participate. By the way, don’t use guilt to mobilize participation. A guilt-driven system will not be sustainable in the long-run.
- Celebrate the stories of those committed to the cause. Stories are great for inspiring others to get involved. As yourself, as a cause or organization, are there stories that you can point to that embody the mission or goals of your group? I think stories can be a powerful assessment tool for organizations.
- Work on clarity, infrastructure, and ideas. Some of the main reasons that people don’t commit to a greater level is because they are not sure what you’re about and how you want them to help. Work hard on creating tangible, clear steps for involvement. Maybe their lack of involvement is created by our lack clarity, infrastructure, and development of ideas.
These are just a few of several thoughts I have about this topic. I’d love to hear your perspective on this as well!
Next time someone communicates that they don’t “care about your cause”, don’t take it personally and continue to live out your passion. Find the people that care and fuel the movement.