Thursday, June 18, 2009

Never Underestimate the Power of Trivia

"Internet Trivia" image via ical wiki

I had a phone conversations recently with a couple I've known since the 80s. They've never been great at staying in touch and I was struck by the difficulty we had in finding things to talk about. We could talk about our mutual past and we could talk about our larger worlds of politics, etc. But our infrequent communication has left us largely ignorant of the trivia of each others' lives and that was the problem.

Social media (Twitter especially) is often made the butt of jokes as being about life's trivia: "I'm at Starbucks having a mocha latte" kind of thing. And sometimes it IS like that. But that isn't necessarily a bad thing; it's the trivia we share that helps make for community, a sense of being part of something larger than one's self.

There's a tendency for nonprofits (and for profits) to focus on their bigger accomplishments - feeding 2,000 homeless a healthy lunch or providing art classes for 200 underprivileged kids - or the bigger challenges - finding the funding for those lunches or classes. But don't overlook the smaller stuff: the results of an exploratory meeting, a few of the changes made by staff since the budget cuts, what an intern saw while volunteering to teach ESL in Mexico over her vacation. These are things that will help your community understand your mission and its challenges and rewards. Give them a chance to comment and you open the door to a whole new level of association and you might even get some good tips that will make life in a small nonprofit just a little bit easier.

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