Apparently there’s a social disorder sweeping the world’s Internet users (and I know it must be real because I first heard about it on the BBC and then it was covered last month by The Telegraph.) It goes by the snappy acronym FOMO – standing for Fear Of Missing Out – and is the underlying malaise blamed for countless millions of people around the world being glued to their Email, Facebook, Twitter, etc. – due to the concern that if they drop temporarily offline then they might just miss out on something important (or at the very least pretty neat).
According to a study reported in the journal Computers in Human Behaviour, fuelled by the global explosion in social media use FOMO has now escalated to the point of being a full-blown psychological condition leaving sufferers feeling less competent, less autonomous and (perhaps surprisingly) less connected with others than people who don’t worry about being left out.
Reading about this it struck me that a version of this condition is something that many fundraisers are in danger of suffering from when it comes to their online activities. But in this case the overriding symptom is a difficulty focusing on what might be described as more ‘traditional’ online fundraising activities (like setting-up and monitoring website conversion metrics, testing landing pages, etc.) due to the need to spend time testing a host of new approaches so as to overcome concerns that they might be Missing Out on ‘The Next Big Thing’.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I like keeping-up with with digital developments that might offer new fundraising opportunities as much as anyone. Last year I was out in Malawi with WaterAid trialing the use of Instagram for ‘real time’ project storytelling from remote communities and I love to see charities testing-out new ways of using emerging digital tools – like Kids Company and their recent Vine campaign.
However, when you combine the realities of limited staff time and budgets with the ever growing list of new digital opportunities it’s clear that unless online fundraisers are really good at prioritising activities that deliver on their income-generating objectives most effectively then FOMO-fuelled activity can lead to time and money being sapped-away with very little to show for it.
If you think you or your fundraising team may be suffering from a FOMO-induced lack of strategic focus, then here’s a simple thing you can do… just have a go at using this prioritisation grid:
Simply position any list of digital activities or opportunities on the four box grid based on both what you believe their likely income return will be and how easy they will be to implement. Once done, it’s easy to see the quick wins in terms of income and ease, as well as opportunities worthy of real investment consideration and potential timewasters. Not to say you should never trial ideas in the ‘Caution’ box – but at least now you can consider them within the context of your higher priority activities
I’ve used this simple approach many times when a client team has been faced with a long list of opportunities, perhaps as part of a formal strategic planning process or an idea generation brainstorm, and have always found it a really useful way to help people focus on their top priority tasks. Hope you do too.
While I’m talking planning… if you’re involved in helping your organisation get the most out of digital fundraising, then you might be interested in an Digital Fundraising Integrated Planning Masterclass I’m running at the International Fundraising Congress over in Holland this October. I’m basing it on the lessons I’ve learned from working on digital strategies for a whole range of organisations over the last few years and you can find the full details here. Do hope to see some of you there!