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How do we motivate our supporters?

Yesterday I went to my first EcoWomen happy hour. These happy hours bring women of all ages together who care about the environment and are working to protect it. This month's event featured Dr. Jamie Reaser as the speaker. Jamie is the founder of Ecos Systems Institute, an organization that helps with capacity building. The topic of her talk was motivating conservation and sustainable living and a lot of what she said were points I think many organizations can think about and use in their advocacy work.

Jamie explained that in order to motivate people (our supporters or even those who we want to support us), we need to effect them enough that we alter their values. The environmental movement tends to try to change people's behaviors, but we need to go even farther than that in order to make an impact. People won't simply do something without knowing how it truly affects them. Jamie explains that we need to work towards shifting people's identities so that they feel connected to an issues and shift their values towards caring about an issue.

The environmental movement is also continually trying to move away from problems. What we need to do instead is move towards solutions. People want to stop global warming, but we need to give them solutions towards how they can do this.

Jamie also challenged those of us at the happy hour to reach out to people who aren't yet supporting us. Find the audience least likely to care or show up and get in front of them. Think about their values and how what we are doing affects those values. Why not place an ad in a magazine we wouldn't normally think about, such as Glamour or Elle?

One last thing I wanted to note was that Jamie read several essays written about people's experiences with nature. What was moving about them is that they explained the person's connection with the environment, how they were affected by what was going on around them. It made me think about how maybe we need to do more storytelling - whether we do it or our supporters do it - but we can motivate people to act through these stories. Imagine the number of stories that came from Hurricane Katrina - reading about people's experiences made others want to act and do something to help. Their own values were affected by seeing families separated, pets lost, homes destroyed. And because these values are a part of their identity, they wanted to help and make a difference.

-Yvonne Archer

July 18, 2007 in Advocacy | Permalink


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Posted by: Fred at Jul 19, 2007 11:43:04 PM

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