How This Climate Change Campaigner May Help People Embrace Your Cause


Working in the not for profit sector can be mighty rewarding, but it can also be frustrating at times. Don’t know about you but for me a time of major frustration is after toiling away to promote your Cause you find that others, groups or communities just don’t seemed to be as engaged as you are.

Norwegian psychologist Per Espen Stoknes focuses on this same issue in his book, What We Think About When We Try Not To Think About Global Warming. Stoknes is an environmental activist who has noted that Americans are actually less concerned now about the climate than they were in 1999, despite the mountain of new studies highlighting the threat. It seems to Stoknes that more and more facts are being thrown at people, but most still aren’t taking action based on those facts—and he seeks to explain why.

In answering his own question, Stoknes concluded that rational argument just doesn’t work anymore in getting people to embrace a Cause. This is because the messaging often ignores five fundamental truths about human behaviour and he proposes a number of strategies to deal with these.

While Stoknes focuses exclusively on climate change, as you can see, each of his strategies are applicable to any Cause.

1. Make it feel personal, urgent, and local

To Stoknes we have a habit of presenting Causes as largely dealing with abstract problems that don’t happen in our community. So we present images of people being treated like flotsam in the Mediterranean, polar bears standing on ever shrinking pieces of ice or Pacific Islanders watching water lap their front doors. Graphic images yes, but the problem is that people naturally give little weight to distant problems, or those that haven’t affected their immediate social circle. I must admit, I didn’t do a test for Bowel Cancer until a friend of the same age with diagnosed with the disease!

2. Be positive.

While the facts may support it, warnings of apocalyptic doom, simply lead people to tune out. This is because we instinctively avoid stories about loss. Also attempts at making people feel guilty only serve to make them feel helpless or despairing.

As an alternative, Stoknes advocates that we talk about solutions, opportunity and a readiness to act.

3. Provide people with a way to contribute

It’s easy for people to rationalise non-action – we have all done it. My $10 donation will make no difference to this organisation or by throwing my recycling in with the general waste this week will have no impact on the planet. Stoknes talks about the problem of cognitive dissonance—if we’re not acting in a Cause supporting way, we tend to automatically adjust our beliefs to justify our behaviour.

The trick here is to establish transparent ways where people can genuinely feel that they are contributing to a Cause, no matter how small.

4. Reduce polarisation

This may not be an issue with many Causes but the supporters of some have allowed the view to develop that “if you ain’t for us you must be against us”. To Stoknes this is highly counter-productive to any Cause. As he says, arguing with a denier will probably only drive them harder into their position. “Resist the temptation to move to a ‘holier than thou’ stance, or throw a tantrum over the ‘idiots’ on the other side, even if the outspoken denialists and trolls ‘deserve’ it,” he says. Rather than fighting, he suggests empathy and talking about “resistance” to a particular position —which he sees as a natural psychological reaction—rather than “denial.”

I, too, can feel resistance, if I really take in the full implications of global warming,” he says. “After all, the climate facts are threatening, apocalyptic, and overwhelming to our ego-consciousness. It awakens our inner resistance. Taking them seriously means considerable changes in our outlook and lifestyle. We should respect the pain of deep transformation, in ourselves and others.”

5. Use the power of social networks.

The famous Asch conformity experiments of the early ’50s showed us just how powerful peer pressure and social networks can be in influencing attitudes and behaviour. What this tells us is that we need to frame information in such a way as to suggest people in a community are out of step with their friends if the don’t support your Cause. For example, 85% of people in town give to the local hospital. Always talk about the people who are getting it right – don’t demonize those who are ignoring you. At the end of the day we humans want to be like those around us.

And remember when communicating about our Causes that we are talking to people and we are hardwired to respond in a particular way.

By Chris Gandy – Chris is the Founder and Principal of Cause & Effective.

If Not Now, Then When?


Today the UN has proclaimed to be International Day of the World’s Indigenous People – an occasion to celebrate the stories, cultures and unique identities of indigenous Peoples around the world.

In following a few links about the Day, I came across an interesting project that I would like to make more people aware of due to it’s simplicity, communicative power and importance.

The Project is called If Not Us, Then Who and consists of a series of documentary films where various indigenous people, on different continents, describe their personal battles to protect their lives, their cultures and our forests – and our planet!

Although our forests play a major role in arresting the effects of our rapidly changing climate by annually absorbing an estimated 2.4 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide, they are under dyer threat from a resource ravenous world. It seems their only protectors are the few remaining indigenous people who call these forests their ancestral homes.

These stoic indigenous people are the frontline troops in the fight to provide a sustainable environment for our grandchildren and their cause demands our support. To quote Naderev Sano:

Who will stop ‘this madness’ of climate change, ‘if not us, then who, if not now, then when?’

 By Chris Gandy – Chris is the Founder and Principal of Cause & Effective. He is also the non-indigenous custodian of 150 acres of temperate rainforest.



Why Should Not For Profits Bother With Social Media



When people hear that I consult to not for profits on communications, sooner or later, they ask me, “Dennis, is it really worth it? Can I raise funds for my organisation on social media?”

I’m sorry, people, but those are two different questions.

Question 1: Are Social Media Worth It for Your Organisation?

First, think about what you’re trying to do with your communications. Who are you trying to reach? What do you know about them? If you engaged them successfully, what would they do?

If you know the answers to those questions, you will know whether or not social media are an important part of your business strategy. Even if they are, there are ten things you should take care of before you ever start on social media.

But in the end, chances are social media will be worth it for your not for profit. Why?  Because you need loyal supporters.

People give their first gift to your organisation for a variety of quirky reasons. When they  continue to give, it’s for one reason: because they have come to know, like, and trust you.

You will win loyalty by giving people ways to get to know, like, and trust your organisation…and nothing lets you do that more often, in a more convincing way, at less cost, than social media.

Question 2: Can I Generate Support on Social Media?

Let’s turn this question around. When you go on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram, are you looking for a chance to support an organisation?


Well, neither are your supporters.

People use social media to stay in touch with their friends. Your challenge is to make people regard your organization as a friend.

A friend who asked you for money every time he came over to your house would soon stop getting invited. If your organization asks for money whenever you’re online, people will stop inviting you onto their screens.

The 80-20 Rule

If you really understand social media, you will follow the 80-20 rule. 80% of the time your organization is on social media, share content that’s interesting to your audience.

  • Engage in conversations with them. You know they’re interested if they’re the one who brought up the topic!
  • Post information that they won’t find everywhere else. Make them feel smarter.
  • Post “fun” content that they will enjoy. If it relates to your cause, great, but as long as it doesn’t actually conflict with it, it’s all good. Friends are not all business–and you want to be their friend.

20% of the time, call your audience to action.

  • Poll them, or ask them open-ended questions.
  • Invite them to lobby their elected officials, online.
  • Offer them a chance to volunteer.

And yes, perhaps once in a great while, you can ask for money. It will work better if it’s directed toward a specific, tangible goal, and if they can track their progress toward that goal in real time. General appeals rarely work on social media.

So Tell Me Again, Why Should I Bother?

Maybe you shouldn’t. If your specific audience isn’t on social media– because of language barriers, for instance–maybe you shouldn’t be either.

But if your audience is on social media and you’re not, what you’re telling them is, “You’re not worth it to me.”

You won’t spend the time to reach them where they like to be? Then you are not their friend. And over time, they will give their attention, time, and money to the organisations that make them feel valued. Being one of those organisations–that’s why it’s worth it.

By Dennis Fischman : Dennis is a Cause & Effective Associate who helps not for profits and small business discover better ways to communicate and, in the process, win friends and get the support they need. He is also the author of The No-Nonsense Nonprofit Guide to Social Media


Preaching To The Converted


The converted. Let’s define them those who have helped to improve some feature of their work area, and who are now trying to make sure the improvements are sustained.

Against the sometimes ambiguous results of change programs the converted may be an endangered species – certainly rare. If they are not nurtured, supported and encouraged their involvement may weaken. Commitment to reform deteriorates.

And yet “preaching to the converted” has somehow come to mean “stay away from the converted – leave them to it”. While preaching and lecturing have no constructive place in creating and maintaining behaviour change neither does ignoring success.

So – how do you treat your converted – those who are hard at work trying to sustain the improvements they have achieved? After making successful changes we do need to work hard to sustain them, so let’s not leave success to chance.

Here are three ideas to consider for helping a work group keep up the changes they have made:

1. Stress at work increases the risk of abandoning the changes – so why not help those working at sustaining change to anticipate and better deal with stress.
2. Encourage those working at maintaining improvements to take credit for what they have achieved.
3. Hold “lessons learnt” sessions – simply have the team identify what worked well and what didn’t work so well and focus on how to have more things go well.

By Joe Moore. Joe is the founder and principal of Kimber Moore Associates. He and his team are highly skilled in helping leaders and staff deal with uncertainty, change, complexity and conflicts. You can contact Joe here

How Maslow Can Help Us Build More Effective NFP Boards


Talking with people who are on NFP boards, the conversation often turns to why they decided to join a particular board. Invariably many will respond by saying it was a passion for the cause that influenced their decision.

Unfortunately, while certainly important, a highly effective NFP board today needs a great deal more than truck loads of passion. I recently came across a TEDTalk by Chris Grundner that makes this point very clearly – if you are interested in being part of a highly effective board I recommend you take a look.

Chris was a senior VP in the corporate world when he lost his wife to a brain tumor. He opted out of that sector and founded the Kelly Heinz-Grundner Brain Tumor Foundation and currently serves as the president and CEO of the Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement (DANA).

He explains that when building a NFP one of the biggest temptations is to quickly fill seats on your board by using a “beggars can’t be choosers” mentality. But it is an expedient temptation to be resisted.

Having passionate members isn’t a bad thing, it just isn’t the only ingredient in the recipe of a great board. To reinforce his point Chris refers us to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

We are all familiar with Abraham Maslow’s theory which states that people are motivated to achieve certain needs. When one need is satisfied, a person seeks to fulfill the next one, and so on. The needs are often shown as levels within a pyramid, with the largest, most fundamental levels of need at the bottom — things like water, food, sleep, shelter. At the top of the pyramid, is self-actualisation — most often explained as understanding what your full potential is and then actually striving to realize it.

Using Maslow’s approach, Chris has designed his own “needs pyramid” to describe, what he considers to be the essential building blocks, or governance levels,  for an effective NFP board.

Level 1 – Passion

Like food and water, for a NFP board passion is essential – but it isn’t everything. It provides a solid foundation for all organisations.

Level 2 – Standards

Establishing operational best practices are key components to stable leadership. The board chair sets the standards and conveys the expectations to everyone accordingly. The individual board members are responsible for holding each other accountable to those standards. It is also vital that the board chair and executive follow the same standards.

Level 3 – Diversity of Skills & Perspectives

Great boards aren’t full of “yes” people. They consist of people who “infuse purposeful disruption, but are mission-based and constituency-driven” and are willing to “create a culture of constructive conflict”

Level 4 – Transcendent Leadership

Here the board has embraced a leadership style that enables them to look at the organisation as a connective integrated whole and their strategies and plans are designed to ensure maximum benefit for a maximum number of people for a maximum period of time.

For me, the take-out message from Chris’ talk is that the building of a highly effective board can’t be left to chance. But with a conscious deliberate approach great outcomes for all stakeholders are very achievable.

By Chris Gandy – Chris is the Founder & Principal of Cause & Effective. Our cause is to assist cause-based organisations to more effectively deliver on their cause.

The Extraordinary Relationship Between Chairman and CEO


The relationship between a Chairman and a CEO is special. Great Chairs often act as a confidant, mentor, adviser, sounding board and interpreter for the CEO.

Recently I had the privilege of coaching a Chairman who fulfills this role with distinction in his organisation.

In some other organisations, I get to play the role that this Chairman fulfills with his CEO by coaching the CEO directly, but in this case the CEO has such confidence and trust in the Chairman that I don’t need to do that.

However, I do coach this Chairman. Why? Because the Chairman has a deep commitment to his CEO ‘s success and he knows first hand the benefits of having continuing coaching.

He meets with me regularly and together we design the important conversations he will have with his CEO. He gets me to road test his thinking, perception and ideas before he meets the CEO, as a demonstration of his desire to ensure that these special conversations land well.

We’ve been having coaching conversations together now for two years. The results are reflected in the emerging culture of the organisation: deeper respect, greater respectful honesty, increased performance and efficiency and some impressive innovations at several levels.

A typical coaching session will find what is going on at present, how that fits with the Chairman’ intentions, the impact of that on the values and principles of the organisation, the impacts on relationships and how information is shared and freed up and the effects on strategy and structures.

From that point on we get a clear design of what the Chairman will say and how and when to have the conversation so that it has maximum benefit for the CEO. I also usually get him to reflect, so that he continues to extract learning and insight.

Successful, functional leaders of organisations, in my experience, have coaches just like others at the peak of their performance: musicians, sportspeople, actors, government ministers.

I believe I have one of the best jobs in Australia: coaching Chairs, CEOS and their teams for peak performance and efficiency.

By Ian Sampson: Ian is a Cause & Effective Associate. Please contact him if you would like to explore how to create a coaching relationship like this one.

Highways, Urban Freeways, Bypasses and Backend Roads


 “Life is a journey that must be travelled no matter how bad the roads and accommodations” Oliver Goldsmith

Ok, here we are, each on our life journey.

So, what is business life like for you these days? Are you travelling on a highway, a freeway, a bypass or back-end road? And if you chose a Highway or Freeway, what were the factors that influenced this, what were you thinking?

We become so attached to what we think we should be doing, or what others think we should be doing, that it’s hard to imagine anything else. But then, all of a sudden life throws up this need to take a detour.

“Well, now that I am on his highway/freeway, where’s the nearest exit, I need to find a rest room!”

And don’t you know it, because we need an exit to accommodate this function, we’re either:

  1. Totally unfamiliar with the territory
  2. Unable to find one, no matter how hard we look,
  3. Giving our glut and butt muscles an extraneous workout
  4. Starting to think about all sorts of short-term options to accommodate the urgent need for relief.

It goes without saying, the immediate need overrides all else and we run the risk of being totally off course.

So where’s the nearest guide, road map, compass or GPS that will show me how to get where I really need and want to be. Sometimes, we have to take the backend roads to return to the highways.

If we are stuck on a back road, a GPS will be overkill, maybe a compass check is what’s needed, whereas if we are seeking a wider view a GPS is definitely more appropriate. Or, maybe we need to rethink the entire thing, and that’s hardly appetising, after so much effort.

So what detour are we taking, and if I am being honest, am I really viewing this with total objectivity?

What have I missed, what’s gone under the radar, and how far off track have we really gone? When did I begin to lose control and what preceded it?

And more to the point, have I really been noticing what is affecting business, the people in the business, people running the business, and communities.

With some honesty, clarity and laughter tackling the above issues usually becomes a lot easier when we are relaxed and have faith in the processes of detours, you never know what you might find.

If you find that you are stuck on a backend road and need to find your way back to the highway, let’s travel together and truncate that detour.

By Heather Macauley : Heather is a Cause & Effective Associate who helps not for profits and small business to discover better ways to move forward and grow and can be contacted here.


Have You Donated Your Body to Science While You’re Alive?


When I was a child and I heard grown-ups talking about their medical conditions, I groaned. What could possibly be more boring? Now, it’s my generation, the Baby Boomers doing the “organ recitals”: my hips, my knees, my liver!

People spend more time with their doctors as they age. They spend more money on both testing and treatment. Sometimes they spend so much time and money, it feels as if they’ve donated their bodies to science while they’re still alive.

How much testing do we need? How much treatment do we need? How can we tell?

New kinds of testing–for men

Here are a couple of reports I read in the news recently:

The AARP Bulletin (May 2015) reports on a new type of testing for prostate cancer. “By analyzing genetic information in a biopsy, the test distinguishes between slow-growing tumors that warrant regular monitoring and faster-growing tumors that require immediate treatment.”

That’s an important distinction! Removing the prostate gland can lead to trouble with urination and even to impotence–a high cost to pay if you’re not sure it’s necessary. “This test allows us to avoid aggressive treatment when it’s not needed and save lives when it is,” said Dr. Michael Roizen of the Cleveland Clinic.

New advice on testing–for women

That’s the male side of the ledger. Let’s look at the female side.

For many years, women were told to get yearly mammograms beginning at age 40. The American Cancer Society still gives that advice. But as the Boston Globe reports:

“A government advisory group — the US Preventive Services Task Force— recommends that regular screen begin later, at age 50. The study found that women ages 40 to 49 were more likely to have a false-positive mammogram, compared with women in their 50s”.

Why does this matter? The Globe article says, “The United States spends $4 billion a year on unnecessary medical costs due to mammograms that generate false alarms, and on treatment of certain breast tumors unlikely to cause problems.”

That’s a lot of money. It’s also a lot of chemical, radiological, and surgical tampering with women’s bodies. Women wouldn’t put up with it if they were sure it wasn’t needed.

How much is enough?

Ideally, we would avoid both over-testing and over-treatment. If we live in the best of all possible worlds, we would know the difference between what’s necessary (and potentially life-saving) and what’s unnecessary (and a waste of the time we have left to live).

But I don’t live in that ideal world. Do you? How do you make intelligent choices about when to test, and for what? How you get the right treatment and not too much?

If you have the answers, I’d love to hear them. It would save a lot of time in the waiting room as I get older.

By Dennis Fischman : Dennis is a Cause & Effective Associate who helps not for profits and small business discover better ways to communicate and, in the process, win friends and get the support they need. He is also the author of The No-Nonsense Nonprofit Guide to Social Media

Good Help Is Hard To Give


Many people find giving help hard work. How many times have you tried simply to talk about what is bothering you, only to be met with “well – here’s what I would do”? With the implicit message that you should do that too.

Operating with the best of intentions we may give what we think is help before we are sure what help is required, before we are sure that any help is being asked for.

We’re asked a question and we answer it. In your experience – have you answered a question (helpfully) only to find out later that the person was intent on some purpose to the conversation other than the one you jumped to?

Let’s see if we can get better at giving help.

When you are asked a question or think you are being asked for help see if you can:

  1. Let the person know you are listening.
  2. Encourage the person to keep talking, by saying nothing, or try something neutral like “tough one”, “you seem worried about it”. The more the other person talks the more likely you will both find the focus of the conversation.
  3. Offer no advice until explicitly asked for it. Until you get the go-ahead to help, any advice is unsolicited and likely to be resisted.
  4. Preface any help with something like “something you might consider if you wanted to …’. The responsibility to do anything with your advice, and the choice to do anything with your help is the other person’s – so let’s make that clear upfront.

The vice of advice – giving unsolicited advice is like using crack – addictive for you – and you don’t have to put up with the consequences. Those who take the advice do.

By Joe Moore. Joe is the founder and principal of Kimber Moore Associates. He and his team are highly skilled in helping leaders and staff deal with uncertainty, change, complexity and conflicts. You can contact Joe here

Coworking: The Manager’s Choice


Coworking centres could become mainstream more quickly than many managers realise.

If you have always thought that coworking centres were only useful for independent professionals – writers, journalists or small business owners with a staff of one – then think again.

A growing number of organisations are starting to use coworking centres as their main office.

I spoke with Brad Krauskopf—CEO and Founder of Hub Australia—recently in Melbourne and he said “We have several corporates using the hubs. Technology has enabled people to choose where they work and there is a huge demand for that flexibility.”

One of those corporate businesses is Do it on the Roof, a company that creates gardens on roofs and walls. CEO Shelley Meagher said that basing her business out of Hub Melbourne has not only reduced business costs but also provided a dynamic and high-energy working environment for her team of seven office-based staff.

My business has grown to the point where we could afford our own office but I am in two minds about leaving because there are so many benefits to being here”.

Another corporate at Hub Melbourne is Clearpoint Counsel, a seven-person legal firm. Joel Cranshaw, Founder and Managing Director, believes the hub has given his business flexibility and community. “Collaborating with a community of individuals and small businesses has helped shape our direction and kept us abreast of developments in the start-up community.”

The common thread in these comments is that the value of coworking centres is not just about the office facilities but the connections and relationships that happen in that environment. It may seem an unusual tactic, but for managers struggling to find good people, coworking could increase not only the size of their network, but also their recruitment possibilities.

Managers often believe that their staff would be less productive if they work remotely, away from other team members.  However, for some staff members a coworking centre could enable a work style that is most productive for them.

Karen Bond , Principal at  NewportNet — a flexible work space on the Northern Beaches of Sydney—agrees, saying “Research shows that most employees are more productive when they are given back some control of their work day: there are less sick days taken, less smoko breaks, less stress from traffic and the list goes on.”

Indeed, the evidence weighs against concerns about productivity. One example is a two-year study of flexibility in seven large UK-based companies, which found that most flexible workers—as well as their colleagues and managers—rated their work as good as, or better than, when they worked traditionally. They were also more committed than their peers to their organisation.

Managers on the hunt for a coworking centre may need to keep in mind that not all are set up to house businesses with larger teams. Karen advises “You need to shop around for the right fit: some coworking and smart work spaces have dedicated offices of all sizes to cater for larger teams of employees from the one company so they can knuckle down and get the job done but still have the social benefit of mixing with other like-minded coworkers around the water cooler.”

However with over 100 coworking centres and incubators nationally, and around half (46 per cent) considering opening another new site or expanding their existing location, the chances of finding what you’re looking for are growing.

Interestingly, Australia has been at the forefront of the growth of coworking spaces, behind only the United States, Germany and the UK.

It seems that the coworking trend has more to offer than many managers realise. If you’re interested to find out more about coworking, I would be happy to offer more information.

Nina Sochon is a Cause & Effective Associate. She is a High Performing Workplaces Consultant and a leading expert on remote and flexible work and can be contacted here.


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