Matt Collins: What if Einstein had been on Twitter?

Our columnist asks if we're thinking hard enough about some of the biggest questions we face

Matt Collins
Matt Collins

Without stating the obvious, digital has totally changed the game of communicating with people at scale. Social media, landing pages, Facebook advert all allow us to connect with donors and people who need help in a way that just wasn’t possible only a few years ago.

Platforms such as Slack have also revolutionsed team communications. We can now connect with colleagues all over the world instantly.

There’s also more fascinating data available about every campaign we run than we have time to even look at.

In short, it’s super-great, but it isn’t half distracting.

What if Einstein had been on Twitter?

Imagine for a moment if Einstein had been on Twitter. Instead of spending his days locked in rooms without wifi, grappling with the biggest mathematical conundrums of all time, what if he was refreshing his notifications on his iPhone?

What if he couldn’t help sneaking a peek at his work emails at the weekend? What if he got as excited by these digital tools as we all do?

Would he have been able to dive so deeply into the huge problems he was tackling and apply his huge brain for the benefit of humanity the way he did?

There are new challenges to crack

You might not be Einstein, but you’re still darned clever. Are you applying that huge brain of yours in the right way in the digital age? Are you tackling the challenges this new era is presenting to your charity?

Fundraising teams have been shaking buckets, sending direct-mail appeals and facilitating mass-participation events for longer than they care to remember. They have a lot more accumulated and communal expertise behind them than digital.

But digital fundraising, capacity building and service delivery are (relatively speaking) in their infancy. Are we thinking hard enough about some of the big questions facing us? Questions such as:

  • How do we reach out to people online when they need us without being intrusive?
  • How can we make digital fundraising a sustainable part of the mix without just crossing our fingers for a viral campaign?
  • How can we upgrade our CRM and make the massive efficiency and security savings without breaking the bank?

The answers aren’t sitting in your inbox. They probably aren’t on Twitter either. They’re in the communal brains of your colleagues, bosses and, of course, you.

Do more thinking

So here’s an idea. As you return to work in January, don’t just pick up where you left off in December. Let’s all have a bit of a think first.

  • Decide what your biggest, toughest, digital questions are. The ones that need the most thinking.
  • Get your three smartest colleagues together in a room with a whiteboard or flipchart. Leave phones at the door (that might be the hardest bit!).
  • Write as many answers as you can to those toughest questions.
  • Create an affinity map.
  • Come up with some answers.

The charity sector is uniquely amazing for the collaboration it allows. In 2018, let’s look to solve some of these big questions together.

Matt Collins is managing director of Platypus Digital, a digital marketing agency specialising in the charity sector

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