This past February marked my sixth anniversary in business. For four of those years, I worked diligently to brand myself as Taming Tech For Good–helping changemakers harness the social web for social good. While I still intend to help my clients use technology strategically to amplify their impact, technology alone is not enough. Community connection is crucial to achieving the impact you seek to make in the world.
Most for-purpose organizations and initiatives struggle with the same big questions: How do we tell our story? How do we get people to care–to take action? In grappling with these questions, the approach–far too often–is centered on crafting the right message and imagery. In our efforts to develop and brand a campaign, we leap-frog over the most important step: consulting and engaging community.
The starting place should be asking questions like:
- Who has a vested interest in this issue?
- Who is being impacted by this problem?
- Who is best positioned to determine our success or failure?
When we get caught up in our enthusiasm and excitement to make a difference, it can be easy to forget that the work should start with the communities in which we work.
What you do for us,
is not for us.
This quote is borrowed from a photo taken in a school yard in Zimbabwe by Dawn Humphreys where she was volunteering through International Citizen Service, and it perfectly sums up the problem.
Instead of conducting needs assessments to identify what’s wrong and how we can fix it, let’s begin by identifying the community capital ready to be put to work. If you’re ready to build relationships, mobilize latent community assets, and champion civic participation–let’s talk!