The Nonprofit Marketing Blog

Why you can’t have a huge, active community paying attention at all times

I’m often asked, “How do we scale our dedicated fan base?”

Here’s the challenge.

A lot of organizations (both nonprofit and for-profit) start with a dedicated following. Then they try to grow their community bigger and bigger. Along they way, they keep talking to their audience as if it was one, homogeneous audience. But it’s not. A lot of people lose interest, because they care about different things. The audience starts disengaging and dwindling. And you might end up with a small audience that isn’t dedicated at all.

That’s the rub.

As Clay Shirky said in his book, Cognitive Surplus, “People differ. More people differ more…and intimacy doesn’t scale.” He says everyone wants three things:

1. A large group of people
2. An active group of people.
3. A group paying attention to the same thing.

It would be nice and easy if you’re in nonprofit marketing to have that be possible. But the problem is, you have to pick two. You can’t have all three at the same time.

So decide. As you grow and your audience diversifies, are you willing to segment that larger group into smaller groups? And talk to each of those smaller groups in a different way, based on their interests? It’s what you need to keep growing. One message does not fit one mass.

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About This Blog

Linda Lombardi

We’re here to help you win hearts and minds—and donations.

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