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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

The Role of Hope in the Nonprofit Website | David Hartstein, Nonprofit Quarterly

Though I think I'm realistic and practical about it, I'm an optimist and an idealist. I believe we can figure out ways to solve problems and achieve success in things we do individually. And I believe the same thing for our organizations, communities, states and nations.

But as this article emphasizes, it also takes hope. And that's true not just for nonprofit organizations and their websites but also for public and private organizations and other forms of communication.

I'm not an advocate for the simplistic motivational technique often used with young people: "You can be whatever you want to be." Certainly, we should be open-minded, imaginative and idealistic in thinking about what we want to accomplish--and what we encourage other people to do. Certainly we can and should train and prepare ourselves well for the professional, organizational, and personal goals we want to achieve. 

But the fact is that we are not often the decision-makers in, for example, the jobs we seek. And we are not often alone--or the single best alternative--for those choices.

That's partly what I mean by being realistic and practical. In setting goals, we must consider alternatives in how to achieve them and communicate about them. We must be flexible.

But we must have hope that we can successfully and effectively evaluate those alternatives, prepare for them, and achieve them. And we must have, emanate and inspire hope in communicating those alternatives, goals and achievements.

Hartstein describes the importance of hope:
First, hope establishes that the problem is solvable. ... Whatever the problem, a healthy dose of hope shows that the problem has a solution. A problem that appears unsolvable isn’t motivating. It’s daunting, overwhelming, and maybe even debilitating. Our job is to inspire visitors [and readers] to action, not dim their spirits and immobilize them with despair. Hope makes taking action seem worthwhile.
In addition, hope establishes your organization as a solver of the problem. Showcasing the hope your organization has demonstrates the idea that not only is this problem solvable, but you’re a significant player in the implementation of the solution. Positioning yourself in this way makes it much more likely that potential supporters will get involved with your organization. ...
He continues by describing how to integrate hope into a nonprofit website. But most of his advice applies as well to other forms of communication and other types of organizations.

Bernstein's article is featured today, Feb. 19, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Good Cause Communications, available at the Nonprofit Communications tab above and by free email subscription.

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