List-building Tips

This past week we, at the Freshwater Alliance, hosted a community of practice for organizations who use Salesforce as a database for organizing and managing contacts. 


After the webinar discussion, Krystyn Tully of the Lake Ontario Waterkeeper, sent me this message: “Probably the most valuable thing was that the discussion about technology became a catalyst for talking about our engagement strategy and our staff started to see the database as being about the people in it, rather than as a piece of technology.”

This idea of Engagement Organizing has been making the rounds lately in capacity and training circles for Canada’s environmental community. We, at the Freshwater Alliance, have our own series of training intensives taking place across the country. An emphasis at each of these events is on the clear need to be better list-builders.

The theory of change behind this concept of engagement organizing is that we need to engage more people better in the issues we care about – such as clean water – if we are going to ensure clean healthy waters for you, me, our children and our children’s children.

Krystyn’s message reminded me of a very important rule in organizing. List building is about more than just numbers and how many people we might have in our databases. It is about building, and deepening relationships, with people who share some of the same values as we do. Your database is your community. What a good database can do is help you manage these relationships at numbers that we could never do on our own.

Given the importance of list-buiding in our engagement efforts, here are 5-tips to take your lists to the next level:

1. Start thinking of your list-building as relationship-building and your database as your people;
2. Let’s get out from behind our desks and do more people-to-people point of entries;
3. Personalized follow-up – it may be more intensive than emails but a little personal goes a long way;
4. Have a plan – your engagement pyramid is more than just a neat exercise…it is your tool for understanding and planning communications with your supporters;
5. Get yourself the right database! A database is more than just a piece of technology, it is and can be the brain of your communications efforts able to harness and build relationships with more people than any one of us can do on our own.

Super charge your list-building efforts by starting our 5-part Organizing for Engagement introductory webinar series.