Building A Bridge Or A Moat?
June 23, 2023
Kevin Schulman, Founder, DonorVoice and DVCanvass
Your charity’s issue or area of focus needs oxygen, like a flame, to stay lit. It requires exposure and active discourse to grow support and make material improvement against the problem.
We’re all in the advocacy business. But is your approach building a moat or a bridge?
The organizations in the orange circles are moat builders, focused on a single theme under their banner issue. But all issues are complicated and multi-faceted.
The organization in green is building a values or cultural bridge, talking about two themes simultaneously, drawing in two otherwise separate groups of people focused on the same issue but with different focal points.
This isn’t speculative. The original research was done looking at advocacy organizations focused on autism spectrum disorders (ASD).
One of the orange circle organizations talked singularly about the linkage between vaccines and ASD. The other, epigenetic causes.
The green circle organization grew audience and supporters by noting the dearth of research linking ASD to either vaccines or epigenetic causes.
Consider another example, climate change. Is your focus getting rid of fossil fuels or pro-nuclear or perhaps bio-engineering solutions? If you focus mostly or exclusively on one message and theme under the very complicated climate change topic, you’ll forever be limited in the size and influence of your advocacy by the size of your focal cluster.
But, if you link two topics – nuclear and fossil fuel – that are both pre-existing but typically siloed, you create novelty. New and the same, novel and familiar at the same time. This fosters healthy friction and more discourse among more people all aimed at the same macro issue.
This bridge building is a very important predictor of network size. Want a bigger social network to build your brand and impact? Throw a bridge over your moat.