Monday, January 18, 2010

My aunt just wrote a really helpful post for anyone who ever has to think about motivating people: "Nonprofit marketing recipe: Hope + individual stories + progress"

She points out that, "we respond to stories of hope and transformation, not stories and statistics of desperation." I remember thinking this after a speaker who visited the seminary tried to "guilt" us into joining his cause by talking (statistically) about how bleak the outlook is in his field and how much better our ancestors did at missions than we do. I left the talk thinking how much more impact speakers had who talked about their personal interactions with people and who viewed the obstacles they faced as opportunities rather than barriers. This speaker did tell one story about getting to know some men in his neighborhood by drinking with them (taboo for most people from an evangelical tradition). That one story resonated far more with the audience than all the statistics and negative outlook because it was personal, and hopeful. We got to see a snapshot of his life and some hopeful relationships he was building.

While she is applying ideas to non-profits in general, I think the insights are valuable to churches specifically (as it seems that we often look to 1950s marketing paradigms for our ideas currently...). She points us to marketing ideas that would also be endorsed by a biblically consistent Christian theology: humans are intrinsically relational (thus we connect with stories about individuals, not statistics) and humans innately know that that the suffering and pain we confront all around is is not as it is supposed to be (thus we are hopeful, and respond to hopeful ideas that look to defeating such pain).

Thank you Lois Kelly!
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