Because I spend so much work time immersed in this area, I tend to assume that other people I talk with know what constituent empowerment is and why it is important. But then I remember my 8th grade science teacher who has a saying about the word “assume.” He said that when you assume, you make an ### out of U and ME. So, I’m going to stop assuming that everyone knows about constituent empowerment and why it is important, and I’m going to do it right now.
I always say that constituent empowerment is allowing your constituents to do your work for you. That’s the simplified version. The reality, of course, is that you can’t just hand over work. If that were the case, I would never have to take out the trash or fold the laundry (ahhh…a man can dream). No, in order to get others to do your work for you, you need to do a few things first.
So, let’s assume you buy into this constituent empowerment fad, and you think you can handle the four criteria above. What is in it for you? Reach and Context.
Empowering others with your message and the tools to spread the message is the cornerstone on viral marketing. And how quickly can that spread occur? Well, let’s do some math.
Most people have a close circle of people that numbers 12. This extends out to about 40 well-known acquaintances. So, we’ll start with each person being able to reach about 40 people relatively easily.
If each of those 40 people reaches out to their 40 people with the message, roughly 1,600 people have now heard it.
If each of those 1600 people reaches out to their 40 people with the message, roughly 61,000 people have now heard it.
And then 2,370,000 and then 92,360,000.
You get the point.
Have you ever seen one of those commercials where the uptight parent tries to talk to their kids about drugs by performing some very bad rap? As marketers, this is our worst nightmare, right? Trying to reach out to somebody without any clue as to how to deliver the message in a meaningful way is destined to fail.
By empowering your constituents, you have just recruited one of “them” to speak to “them.” You constituents know how to position the message in a way that is meaningful to their friends, because they are friends.
Some organizations will balk at the idea of putting the words into the mouths of constituents, for fear of losing control of the message. All I can say is, unless you know how to clone yourself, there is no better way to reach more people.
Having recently moved to a new city for the third time in the last 5 years (though I think I’m sticking around here for a while), I’m faced again with finding the perfect volunteer opportunity. I work from home, so volunteering regularly is the perfect way for me to get out of the house, meet new people and of course, do something good for my community. I’ve been lucky enough in my past two cities to find the perfect volunteer commitments but here, it’s been a bit more difficult.
My search began on VolunteerMatch. All organizations that need volunteers use VolunteerMatch, right? Hmm, not so much. Maybe there are other sites or communities where non-profits post their volunteer opportunities or maybe non-profits in my area just don’t need volunteers, because the postings here for my criteria were few and far between.
When that route proved unfruitful, I tried the old-fashioned way and started asking people. I found a few great spots around town that need volunteers and visited their websites. Again, confusion… by the looks of their volunteer sections (if there was one), I’m not exactly sure what their needs are and if I’d fit in, but once I’ve finished my applications, maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
So, what are your thoughts on providing ways for volunteers to find you? Are there sites or communities other than VolunteerMatch that you’re using and if not, is there a need for a new avenue for providing this information? And also, once I do find you, what kind of information do you provide for me that will indicate that I can find a great opportunity with you? Are there barriers to that information such as a rigorous application process? Perhaps a follow-up is to come on great volunteer sections so stay tuned…
This Sunday is Father’s Day. As the proud parent of a 4 year old I can honestly say that I have learned a lot about being a parent. Some things I intuitively knew how to do. Other things I had to learn along the way. And in hindsight there are probably a few things I wish I would have done differently.
This got me thinking. As parents we’re continually learning, but what are we teaching our kids? If things like giving are a learned behavior, what are we doing as parents to actively teach our children about the importance of philanthropy?
Sure, any parent who has lived through the terrible twos can attest that a certain amount of self-focus is natural among children this age. However, despite the tantrums, and the “it’s mine” and the “I want” children are amazingly aware that there is a broader world around them. Since they're paying attention to our lead, I think the key to raising a giving child starts with being part of a giving family.
Here are a couple of easy ways to get your children involved:
Providing positive examples to our children will help them become passionate about giving, show them that their actions can make a difference, and form a meaningful connection to a larger world.
Reply to this post with any examples you use with your kids, or programs your NPO has to help parents educate their kids about the importance of giving back.
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