You may have noticed from my previous posts that I am heavily involved in both the Scouts Association and GirlGuiding UK. Both causes are dear to me. I have worked hard to fundraise for multiple groups, spent countless days awake late at night working on meeting plans and activities, and have even roped friends and family into volunteering upon occasion!
When taking a bus journey with a group of Scouts or Guides, or even just in the car with other Leaders, I can often find myself singing camp songs at the top of my lungs. That said, I avoid singing camp songs in front of friends and family who are not involved in this kind of volunteering – they do not care to listen to camp songs on a loop and have no obligation to do so.
They will often ask ‘how it’s going’ or ‘what we’re up to at the moment’. I will politely respond that things are going well and give a brief explanation of a recent event or activity. But in reality, they do not care. If they were really interested, they would be in the trenches with me! (The people who do care have already been roped in!)
I know many a Leader that feels it important that people unaffiliated with these organizations listen to every tale of every Scout or Guide that ever was. In the past, I too made this mistake.
This happens in other areas too, many of my friends have taken to running the marathon annually to fundraise for important causes. While I ‘like’ the Facebook updates and regularly ask as to how training is progressing, the key is to only volunteer detailed information to those who ask. Passive aggression is unnecessary and counter-productive.
While upset at those who reject or ignore your cause is understandable – you are contributing towards an important movement and have the utmost positive intentions – your cause could be the most important facet of your life, but only a fraction of the next person’s, even to your nearest and dearest.
I recently learned this the hard way during wedding planning. My wedding was the most significant event of the summer… as far as I was concerned. That said, despite my intended sensitivity, when I asked a friend to attend my hen-party, I did not realise that what was a polite invitation as far as I was concerned, was to her a reminder of the unstable ground on which her relationship stood. The last thing she wanted to do was celebrate my imminent marriage! Lesson learned: sometimes the best way to share your joy is not to share it at all. No matter my intentions, said friend would see any such invitation as a personal offence.
Macrocosmically, this has a hold too. People may not appear to support your endeavors for a variety of reasons, either personal or professional.
If you know the reasons are personal, please learn from my experience. Be gentle and willing to listen. If the reasons are related to whatever it is you are trying to ‘sell’ them, you may want to consider why. This may impact how you appeal to people in the future, or how you contribute to your cause overall.
- Are you targeting the appropriate contacts? Is hitting ‘send to all’ really the right move? Perhaps you could segregate your contacts into groups of ‘sure bet’, ‘likely chance’, ‘potential interest’, and ‘uninterested’ and then personalize each appeal.
- What else is going on at that time? (We unfortunately could not attend the marathon this year despite many a friend’s plea, as we had a family commitment!)
- Can people get there? If you are targeting a younger group, they may rely on public transport or their parents for lifts, and therefore not be able to get wherever it is you are trying to attract them to! (This is particularly relevant to Guide and Scout Leaders!)
- Is it affordable? When inviting children to camp, our advertisements always state that funding is available should someone be unable to afford the full price. None of us is in the business of restricting access, but finances may be a limiting factor.
Regarding your social media appeals, are you posting at the right regularity of intervals, on the right platforms, etc.? The excuses of not having enough time, not being able to – or whatever else you tell yourself – are not good enough! If you have the time but don’t know how, you have the time to learn. If you don’t have the time, find someone who does. Chances are that if you believe in your cause that much, someone else will too! Remember that it takes time and energy to develop a circle of interest!
Ultimately, the people who are interested in your activity (not just the people who are obligated to take interest) will support you as best they can. Just be aware that they are entitled to their own lives – don’t be upset when they enact that right!