Keeping ‘Matterness’ in Mind: Connecting People to your Nonprofit

Putting People Before Power

By Tarah DeSousa

In an interview conducted by Philanthropy News Digest, Mitch Nauffts spoke with Allison Fine, (author of “Momentum: Igniting Social Change in the Connected Age,” and “The Networked Nonprofit: Connecting With Social Media to Drive Social Change”) about her new book, “Matterness: What Fearless Leaders Know About the Power and Promise of Social Media.”

“Matterness” is a way of thinking and acting that involves putting people before power, according to Fine who coined the term for her book. As a nonprofit, “matterness” should be at the center of your digital communication strategy.  It is not enough for your organization to have a website, a Facebook page, a blog, or all three, unless you are actively connecting with your clients and donors on a personal level.

So what does your organization have to do in order to place people first?  Let them have the floor.  People like to have their voices heard, and their ideas recognized, especially when those ideas can enact very positive change.  Do not fear the opinions or ideas of your donors and volunteers: embrace them, and your organization will thrive.

Instead of blocking comments on Facebook posts or blog pages, use that space to create a transparent dialogue for all of the world to see.  Negative feedback can hurt your nonprofit in the short term, but in the long run, criticism can be the push your organization needed to shape up and get back to your ultimate mission or cause.  Inevitably, this mission is to help people, and you can’t help people without having people on your side and in your camp.

Donations are vital to any nonprofit, but that big, red “Donate Now” box will never be clicked if you can’t connect to your donor base. Be open to opinions and explicitly ask for feedback on all social media posts and after big events.  You won’t regret the information you receive from honest people allowed to speak on your nonprofit’s behalf.  Just remember, people come before power, and power comes when your nonprofit has a strong network of engaged people ready to enact your mission.

About the Author:  Tarah DeSousa is a junior studying Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Iowa.  She is also pursuing a minor in English and a Certificate in Writing. When Tarah isn’t reading or writing for class, she is working at the John Pappajohn Entrepreneurial Center as a communications intern.  In her free time she enjoys rowing, running, shopping and spending time with friends.


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