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June 13, 2018

The “We” Pronoun: How to Build Ownership for Your Cause

At a board retreat we facilitated a few weeks ago, the chairman said, “we need to get people to move from talking about us in the third person and get them to use the we pronoun.” He’s so right!

When people consider themselves connected to your agency, they are more likely to make meaningful contributions.

But, how to build that sense of ownership? Here are just a few ideas:

Ask for advice. Give your volunteers and donors an opportunity to provide input on your strategic plan, building plans, or other initiatives. This can be done through focus groups, one-on-one interviews, or even simple online surveys.

Build community. Bring your donors and prospects together and show them that they are among like-minded group of people who value one another. Hold house parties or open-houses. Organize a small bike ride or hike.

Create meaningful volunteer opportunities. Volunteers can be an organization’s dearest friends. Make sure you’re giving people plenty of opportunity to get involved on committees, behind the scenes, or in direct service activities.

Be available. An executive director I once worked with held “Tuesday’s with Theresa” every week. She would be at the same table at a local coffee shop every Tuesday morning and anyone was welcome to stop by and chat with her.

Change your language. Don’t wait for your donors and volunteers to use the wepronoun. Use every opportunity to make them understand that you consider them part of the agency. Look carefully at how you’re using language now, and try switching it up to be more embracing. For example, instead of saying “thank you for supporting the agency,” try saying “thank you for making our work together possible.”

Be purposeful in how you engender ownership and you’ll soon see results!

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