After my first trip to Zimbabwe, I knew that people there needed help; I also knew that people here wanted to help. Humanity is so broken, but we are also so beautiful. In the last four years, I've met and connected with some of the most amazing people. They're compassionate, generous, and sacrificial.
We call them the Help One Now tribe. They take trips, sponsor kids, throw garage sale parties, launch campaigns, give to key projects, and help us solve problems of global extreme poverty.
They are heroes.
Help One Now is no longer my thing -- it's our thing. Together, we want to empower high capacity local leaders in order to care for vulnerable kids and transform communities. We have a shared vision and everyday, we do our best to care for those who are suffering.
So how did we do this? How Do You Build a Tribe?
You build a tribe by: by sharing compelling stories, educating the tribe on the problems, activating the tribe with tools and resources to help, and by making sure the tribe can trust the organization.
Step 1 - Stories
The first step to activation is telling powerful stories (which we covered earlier). A story will capture the attention and heart of a group of people.
This past week, our nation was captivated by #Batkid. We cheered, cried, and felt "good" about humanity as the entire city of San Francisco threw a party for a 5 year old boy. His story became our story.
Step 2 - Education
What problem are you trying to solve? Extreme poverty, homelessness, orphans, disease-related problems -- you must educate the tribe on the issues.
Usually, people are compassionate and they want to make a difference. They may know of an issue, but they don't necessarily know the depth of the issue.
A few years ago, I tweeted a simple stat -- every six seconds a child dies due to issues of extreme poverty. One pastor reached out to me and we begin to partner; since then, they have given thousands of dollars to Help One Now .
That simple tweet educated my friend and helped inspire him to get involved. We have so many tools at our disposal these days. We can now educate our tribe and still make it simple, as most folks are simply too busy to take time to do deep research.
You can use social media, blogs, articles, info-graphics, and videos. You want your tribe to have the knowledge they need so they can also share the story and educate their tribe - this is how you build capacity and momentum. Think multiple layers of communication and activation.
Step 3 - Activation
Education without activation = apathy. As we began to share stories and educate our tribe, we wanted to make sure they had tools so they could be activated. We did not want to ask them to just write a check. That is lazy and unfair and will actually cause the tribe to disengage. Of course, we ask people to be generous and write checks, but it's so much more than that.
What if doing good was simple?
That is what we've been wrestling with. Why? Because the masses are extremely busy and most folks ALREADY feel overwhelmed by the day to day realities of life. We wanted them to view Help One Now as a pathway to make an impact, not just an organization that is going to ask for money over and over.
So, how are you going to activate your tribe? What tools can you give them to get involved? What initiative can you launch? What story can you tell? What tools can you create?
You must be innovative: charity:water asks people to give away their birthday. One Day’s Wages asks folks to give a days wages or .04 of their annual income. You can buy a pair of glasses and give a pair of glasses with Warby Parker.
Help One Now’s tribe can throw garage sale parities and give to a direct impact project.
The simpler your idea is, the greater the impact. Of course, some organizations do the opposite. They want to make the ask much bigger, but more exclusive. Do you want 1000 people to give $20 or 20 people to give a $1000?
It all depends on your vision and network.
Step 4 - Trust and Transparency
In the "old" days of Help One Now, I would ask friends to help and they would do so without question. As we grew and begin to work with people with whom we did not have a personal relationship, we had to build trust.
If folks are going to get involved, give their money and time and share our story to their networks, they have to know that we are a trustworthy organization.
We want our tribe to feel connected to us, to have glimpses of an "inside" view. Here are some ways we did that:
- Implementation of projects: We are fierce when it comes to the project we're raising money for to become a reality. Folks do not want to donate and see projects fall apart - especially because the organization lacked execution and planning. We will talk more about that next week.
- Annual Reports: We do an annual report each year.
- Direct Impact Reports: After a project is completed, we send donors a "Direct Impact Report” so they can see how the funds were used. We try to allow the donors to understand the entire process.
- Videos, Photos and GPS: We often take videos, pictures, and GPS coordinates and send them to our donors so they can feel connected to the story and see the progress. It's amazing how excited people get when they can see their generosity making a difference.
Building a tribe is hard. Folks are distracted, they are asked all the time to help, life moves so quickly, and the competition for attention is brutal.
But, if you commit to the process by sharing amazing stories, educating the folks along the way, creating tools that help activate them, and then create trust, you will soon find yourself with a group of passionate people who want to partner with you to help make a difference.
ps: I did not have time to process everything, but please remember this: the Tribe is smarter, more creative, and they also solve problems better than just one singular person. The Help One Now tribe makes key decisions, they make us better, and they shape who we are. We couldn’t do this without them!
pps: My organization, Help One Now is right in the midst of our Christmas campaign. Please do me a favor, check it out here. You can donate or start a fundraiser and have your friends and family participate.
Help us help kids get an amazing education this year.
Also, if you missed the any recent parts of the series, click below to catch up.