Where does that uneasy feeling come from when an incoming call is from a community benefit organization we care about? It may be because we assume a pattern is about to be repeated: (1) Make a monetary contribution. (2) Receive a phone call that begins with thank you, then swiftly moves into considering giving more.
When we receive a contribution at Creating the Future, we pick up the phone or send an email to thank the individual and invite them to a conversation. We want to get to the whole person, their winding path, and what inspired them to take that action. That is our first step toward deeper engagement, human to human.
Until recently, those invitations were made by our founders. Evolving from a founder-driven organization to scaling-up all of our programs is exciting, and requires more resources – more voices, more skills, more wisdom, more experience, and yes, more money.
That led to launching an experiment last month – the co-creation of a monthly contributors campaign. Like everything we do at Creating the Future, Catalytic Thinking is guiding the questions we’re asking and the process we’re following.
We started by asking “What could a monthly contributors campaign make possible for current and future contributors?”
That conversation led to the realization that the goal of the campaign was not the money, but deep engagement. Contributors could become champions for our mission, sharing, modeling, and inviting more individuals to make our mission their own mission.
With deeper engagement as the goal, becoming a financial supporter would be an onramp to creating real relationships with people, creating the conditions for their commitment to naturally emerge in what way is meaningful to them.
So, what would it take for individuals to feel that deeper engagement?
And that is where our discussion began at our first meeting.
What would people need to know and understand?
Context: People would need to see the whole picture, and understand what Creating the Future is aiming to accomplish, and where all the opportunities to contribute are. When we share that we are in scale-up mode, what does that mean? What are we working on?
Language: Reframing “contributors” as individuals who feel called to contribute both/either who they are (wisdom, skills, experience, support of fellow humans) and what they have (money and other resources/stuff).
What would people need to feel and believe?
Welcomed & Invited: People would need to feel seen, heard and welcomed into the community by a fellow human, whenever and however they participate. They would need to feel invited to connect, explore, and get involved in ways that are meaningful and comfortable to them. They would need to feel encouraged to create their own self-engagement, stepping in whenever and wherever it feels right.
Reciprocity & Gratitude: They would need to feel supported by each other. They would need to see that our culture embraces, supports, and holds the space for being vulnerable and authentic. They would need to feel appreciated for however they choose to contribute.
Belonging: They would need to feel like they are part of a tribe. However an individual connects with Creating the Future, a common sentiment shared is “I’ve found my peeps!”
Enoughness: They would need to feel their own sense of individual enoughness. Whoever I am, and however I participate, I am enough. While Collective Enoughness is a guiding tenet of Catalytic Thinking, that truth is built from the collective sense of individual enoughness.
To the quiet thinker, who is participating by reading our articles and posts, or watching our videos and meetings: You are enough. We may never know that you are reflecting and experimenting, yet you are applying what you’re learning to creating a more humane and healthy world that works for everyone. How could that not be enough?
To the active voice, who is commenting on and sharing our posts, joining our meetings, participating in our classes, or choosing to co-lead an initiative: You are enough. Whatever you choose to be a part of, you are appreciated for who you are and what you bring to this work. And how could that not be enough?
Guided by Catalytic Thinking, our next meeting on November 17 will explore the internal conditions that will allow that deep engagement to flourish.
- What do we need to have internally to create the conditions for deep engagement to flourish?
- What actions can we take, and what will we create in support of those conditions?
What this conversation will make possible for YOU
Whether you join this conversation in real time or watch afterward, we hope that listening (and hopefully participating!) will give you confidence to have this conversation within your own organization. If your organization used fundraising as an on-ramp to deeper engagement, imagine what that could make possible?!
Be Part of This Discussion
YOU are invited to be part of this conversation – to sit inside the meeting with us if you’d like, or to watch and tweet in real time.
If you would like to be at the table with us, in the actual meeting discussion on the video screen, please send a note via the Contact form here.
If you prefer to watch the meeting without actually being in the meeting, participating via Twitter as the spirit moves you, the meeting will appear right at this blog post at 12pm Eastern time (US) / 10am Pacific time on Thursday, November 17. Just tweet using the hashtag #CTFuture and we’ll pull your comments into the discussion. (And if it’s a few minutes past the hour and the video is not showing, just reload your page. We may be starting a few minutes late.)
We look forward to an engaging discussion. And we look forward to your being part of that conversation!