I – like you – have many passions. I’m a music fanatic. I’m a yogi. I’m a non profit marketing geek. I’m a lover of tequila. I’m a fashionista. I’m a dog-o-holic. I’m a dedicated friend.

My business partner Mark is a diving nut. He can’t stop talking about sharks. He loves romantic comedies. He’s a novelist. He watches birds. And he’d give anything to live on the beach in Grand Cayman.

Don’t worry: you aren’t reading the Craigs List personals by accident. I’m not speed dating here. I’m trying to make a point – a point about passion.

Passion is powerful.

Our passions give us joy. Our passions define us as people. Our passions motivate our actions. Our passions make us want to change the world.

And that’s just what we non profit marketers and fundraisers want people to do, right? We want to tap into passion and unleash it so it can change the world.

But I think we are failing. Miserably. Why? Because we’re terrible at relationships. What’s worse? We even more terrible at relationships with the people who are most passionate about our work.

We’re still mass marketing – trying to reach everybody and anybody.

We treat our most passionate supporters like everybody else.

We preach at our choirs –with email after email, Facebook post after Facebook post, direct mail appeal after direct mail appeal.

We’re happy with 15% open rates and .1% response rates. We’re growing bigger lists that do less and less.

We can and must shift this paradigm.

Instead of valuing big lists, we should focus on finding and stewarding our passion communities.

Instead of one-size-fits all marketing, we should focus a majority of our efforts on meaningfully engaging our most passionate.

Instead of preaching at the choir, we should empower the choir to lead and grow our efforts.

There is no shortage of passion in this world. But there is a shortage of people who understand and harness passion meaningfully and effectively – to build relationships, to grow movements, and to change the world.

Our session at the 2012 Nonprofit Technology Conference, “Who’s Your Tribe? Passion-Based Marketing Segmentation to Build Stronger Online Relationships“, is a passion call to arms. Join us and learn:

  • Attributes of a passion community.
  • How to find and segment your passion communities.
  • How to nurture and feed them.
  • How to measure that passion.

We’ll also share examples of people and organizations that are pioneering this approach to passion communities including the National Audubon Society, Moms Clean Air Force, the International Rescue Committee and Environmental Working Group.

If you have an example of organizations or people who are effectively mobilizing passion communities, please share them with me at alia.mckee@seachangestrategies.com.

See you in San Francisco!