Technology Has Its Benefits... But True Personal Connection Has More
We live in a connected world.
Sure, you say—that’s not a surprise, especially at a time when there are as many smartphones as there are people. We are almost literally tethered to our technology, out of choice and out of habit. Although technology certainly is a key factor in linking us to networks of people, true connection is about so much more. True connection is about an experience or a series of experiences that result, over time, in lasting relationships.
Those who know me well know that I place a high value on relationships—in investing time and intention in the people around me. I embrace a fundamental belief in life that good things will come if you spend time getting to know the people around you in almost any situation. You may not know why or how, but the goodness will happen.
But, again, this isn’t the whole picture. The complete view results when we embrace the idea that connectedness isn’t just about people relating to each other. It’s also about how we, as individuals, align with causes and about how these causes become an almost interconnected part of our identities.
Mind you, this wasn’t always the case. Growing up in a house with parents who were very involved—as donors, volunteers, board members—I came by my interest in social good naturally. (It honestly would have been hard to avoid.) But, looking back, I can see that even though I lived with agents of good as parents, the way I, my friends and my colleagues embrace causes today is different.
We are less inclined to keep what we care about at arm’s length, participating in neat little buckets with labels on them that fit within the uniform borders of an orderly life. Instead, we allow the causes we love to become intertwined with self.
People today bring their whole selves with them—everywhere. We want to be valued for our uniqueness, and given voice and choice. We want not only to celebrate the causes we care about; we also want others to know about them and to engage alongside us. We want to be connected, to connect with others and to use our own connections to amplify good: a scenario in which everyone wins.
Why should this matter to you? It matters because connections are at the heart of fundraising. Although effective fundraising relies on the analysis of data and specificity of approach, people are a truly central component. People, who want and deserve to be understood, are the very individuals nonprofits are seeking for support and for investment. To accomplish that—to successfully secure and retain a supporter—you must honor who they are, what they feel, and what they think. You have to give the supporter what I call “voice and choice”: having the courage to put your brand in his or her hands.
In every decision your organization makes about using technology, ask yourselves how the tools are enabling you to optimize the ways in which you reach out and engage with others. If we can remember that people are at the heart of our work and technology is a means to enable them, then we can tap into our supporters’ networks and leverage their connections… for good.