At a conference last week in Boston, I opened my presentation by mentioning Glen James, a homeless man in Boston who found a backpack containing $42,000, and promptly returned it without hesitation. He was lauded for his honesty and, within days, someone from Virginia who never had met Glen set up a fund on gofundme.com and to date it has raised over $150,000 for Glen’s benefit, so he won’t have to be homeless any more.
I used this as a great example of what’s behind the power of “crowdsourcing for good”; people will often jump at the opportunity to participate in something they believe in.
One thing that distinguishes “crowdsourcing for good” from other forms of crowdsourcing is that at the center of the crowdsourcing engagement is something that matters, or should matter, to the majority of participants.
It could be something personal like collaborating to identify unmet needs for a medical issue they or a family member have to deal with, or an altruistic motivation in helping to further the mission of a charity or cause they feel strongly about. Or it could be to innovate and problem-solve on behalf of an company, non-profit or association of which they are a member and which matters to their livelihood. Or it could be to contribute as a citizen to help create a new plan for their town or city, or provide insight towards the development of a new policy that will affect themselves and others. And there are many, many more examples.
In each of these cases, there is an objective to make an impact in something that matters to the participants, something they have some level of emotional connection to. This is extremely important, because we’ve found over the past few years that when people have an emotional connection to the focus of the crowdsourcing engagement, they will participate more, and they will participate even in the absence of other incentives. We often hear about the importance and impact of emotional connections for engagement in our personal relationships, but it extends to our online relationships as well. As you can imagine, the stronger the emotional connection they have, the stronger the participation.
This is why crowdsourcing can be such a powerful way for organizations of all types to benefit from the desire of people to want to participate in what they believe in. If they are a member of your association, or a donor to your non-profit, or an employee of your company, they likely believe strongly in the mission of your organization, and will jump at the opportunity to participate and contribute, all you have to do is give them the opportunity.
So what are you waiting for?