Creating Systems to Engage & Support Humans

This is the third in a series of posts about creating a monthly contributors campaign. Get oriented quickly with our prior meeting summaries here and here, where you can also watch recordings of the meetings.

A few months back, we launched an experiment – to consider what it would take to create a monthly contributors campaign for Creating the Future. From that moment forward, we were clarifying what we meant when we used the words “campaign” and “contributors.” No surprise given our mission, that act of clarifying has led us away from a campaign rooted in money, and towards building systems for deep engagement and sharing all kinds of resources.

A campaign often has a sense of urgency, with start and stop dates for a finite period of time. Whether it is a capital campaign to expand a facility by turning prospects into donors, or a sales campaign to turn leads into customers, the goal is to raise $300K in 30 days or hit 3rd quarter sales targets.

For community benefit organizations, the amount of donation often determines the level of touch or membership benefits a donor may receive. “Is it a large enough gift to warrant a thank you letter and a phone call?” That thinking is rooted in feeling a scarcity of time, which is really about scarcity of people to build and nurture relationships.  And that can lead to lamenting that “Engagement is a great goal, but* we don’t have enough people to engage these people.”

The “Aha” of this Meeting
At Creating the Future, we see any and every type of contribution (wisdom, skills, experiences, resources, existing assets, and yes, money) as an on-ramp to deep engagement, human to human. This is our steady state way of being, not a stand-alone, time-sensitive effort.

Yet as we talked about developing a campaign, we found we were on a path to shoehorning ourselves into something very different than that steady way of being – something that simply does not fit us.

When we removed the narrow focus of a campaign, that changed everything. Our energy and excitement took off as we explored the types of human-focused systems** we will create. No surprise, as this is at the very core of our ten year experiment and mission.

With that renewed focus on deep engagement as the goal, we could re-focus on conditions that would nurture those relationships.

What do we need to have internally to create the conditions for deep engagement to flourish?

  • Systems where the expectation is that there will be a human connection, no matter where or when you step into Creating the Future.
  • Systems to support Creating the Future champions – individuals who want to engage others to join this effort.
  • Systems for sharing personal stories in whatever ways an individual is comfortable:
    • Systems to help people turn their experiences into their stories.
    • Systems to help people turn their stories into conversations.
    • Systems for inviting and welcoming people to be together to share their stories, and who they are not just what they have.
  • Systems to know where to go and who to contact to find information and resources at Creating the Future

What would it take for that deep engagement to flourish?

In future conversations, we will be asking and answering…

  • What are the many ways individuals can engage with Creating the Future? And what will it take to document and share the ways people can engage?
  • What can individuals expect when they engage? And what will it take to create that welcoming and inviting on-ramp no matter where, when or how they engage?
  • What systems will we have in place to meet these expectations? And what will it take to create them?

What You Can Experiment With Right Now:
As you consider your own work, whether it is in the community benefit / nonprofit arena, the government sector, or a private business…

  • What would it take to more deeply engage in relationships with the people who are connected to your work?
  • What would you need to know about the people who use your products and services? What would you need to believe about them? What would they need to know and believe about you? (Not about your product, but about your people)?
  • What would need to be in place for you to more deeply engage with potential champions for your work?
  • What would bring out the best in those individuals, and in your relationships with them?

What’s Next:
Our next steps will be to build these healthy and supportive human-focused systems with people who already care. If this effort is meaningful or of interest to you, please join us in co-creating this effort! Just let us know you’d like to be part of this ongoing conversation, and we’ll look forward to talking with you!

 

*For a look at the sorts of systems change Creating the Future is all about, click here.  http://blogs.creatingthefuture.org/walkingthetalk/2016/08/17/systems-change/

* Language awareness tip: Notice that the word “but” negates everything before it.

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