Political Action Online

Barraging users with never-ending emails is not a way to empower the world. It’s simply a way to ensure that large, corporate and NGO donors believe you’re making a difference by reading the number of people in your database.

The biggest issue with the way that NGOs raise awareness for their causes is that the cause is only a title. The format is not user-friendly and disempowers the person chosing to support the cause. For example I got this email from the Democratic party subject: “Quick Actions for Single Payer, Prosecuting Bush & Afghanistan”

If I click on the link I get a page where I can “take action” but like every other opportunity to take action I will never be updated on the results or given the full story on the action. Here’s what I think needs to change.

  1. Empower the people
  2. Facilitate connection
  3. Get out of the way

First, make sure that I care about the issues being sent to me. Sure I think Bush is technically a war criminal. But do I think he’d ever be tried? Hell no. Certainly not by the Democratic party so don’t send me that stuff.

Second, why, if I chose to sign your petition like this one that I truly do believe in: http://www.repoweramerica.org/page/s/carboncap

Can’t I send this to everyone on I know on FB? FB connect provides the tools to make that easy yet, for some reason even this new “web 2.0” site wants me to copy/paste my contacts. If you just built in this functionality it’ll probably triple your sign-up rate.

Lastly, don’t punish me for signing a petition. Sure, NRDC I think wolves should retain some amount of protection but you never gave me the ability to saw how much, didn’t make it easy for me to share or acknowledge my involvement with anyone, and now send me a ton of emails that sound like the population of wolves in North America is about to collapse because I’m not giving you money.

I’m not meaning to sound sarcastic here, but the barrage of emails from these various groups is intense. NGOs need to realize that their marketing tactic is being used by every other NGO and that, in aggregate, it’s horrible for the people trying to do the right thing. Worse, it’s disempowering. I feel overwhelmed that the world has so many problems that I can’t solve them. And that’s the opposite feeling I should have.