You’re in a crowded movie theater.

Your significant other and friends are sitting near the back of the theater. You’re standing by the front. The urge overtakes you to share some thoughts with your spouse and pals. Rather than go over to them, though, you holler across the packed theater. Rather than have an intimate conversation with four people in the theater who care, you share your wisdom with hundreds of people who are either ignoring you, or who are annoyed that you are intruding on their psychic space.

You picking up what I’m putting down here? It’s a pretty good metaphor for non-profits who pump out emails to hundreds of thousands of folks, only to find that a precious few open, or read, or respond.

We just heard yet another story about a major non-profit whose average open rate for all emails has fallen below 10 percent. This is more than image blockers. We would argue that by not listening, by not segmenting, and by assuming that a big list is always better than a small list, we have all trained our list members to tune out.

Perhaps the most in-demand skill in the coming years will be learning how to bring a list back from the dead.

Do you have any ideas how to do that?