Six Questions with our Anchor Team: David Averill & Karen Uffelman

In the coming weeks, we'll be sharing our Web of Change Six Questions series, which is designed to give you quick insight into the minds of our Anchor team. Today, we talk with David Averill and Karen Uffelman, both of Groundwire, who have brought their extraordinary fundraising leadership to the Web of Change team.

(1) Tell us a few things about you that aren’t widely known.

Dave: I have a really deep desire to build a cob house with others but no time to do it and whenever I need to distill change in my life I listen to Steve Winwood’s High Life or Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes. 

Karen: Among my many jobs I’ve been a cement finisher, inspected potato chips, and spent a summer building rebar cages for traffic signal poles. I’ve also ridden my bike across the state of Iowa (in the middle of July!). I love nectarines and fava beans, although not necessarily together.

(2) What's your take on technology and social change?

We believe the promise of technology is that it can help scale the broad and deep relationships required for significant social change.  But to be successful in that relationship building, you actually have to operate like someone in a relationship.

The Art of Online Courtship

To engage online audiences effectively, it’s not enough to just talk about your shining successes and impact. You need to present an opportunity for partnership. And just like any good partnership, you need to woo ‘em and court ‘em – not just at the beginning, but throughout the long, sometimes challenging marathon that is a relationship.  You will face difficulties and setbacks together.  And you will also celebrate good times and great wins. Start thinking about your website visitors, Facebook fans, Twitter followers, email lists and so forth as the people they are—people you damn well better hold the door open for at the beginning of the relationship and people you can trust and expect a lot from as you get deeper into the relationship.

Social Change is Sexy

Getting involved with a social change organization is like the beginning of a courtship—it’s new and exciting, there’s a lot of passion, it engages you and takes the best of you and makes you even better.  You feel all sexy being a part of something you really care about, something meaningful, something for the common good.  Then the initial thrill starts to die down and you start looking around and wondering if you got involved with the right social change organization and maybe those other newer, younger websites over there might be more fun. As an organization, your job is to keep your supporters deeply invested in your relationship… keep building a real partnership filled with lots of two-way conversations, inspirational successes, respect, ownership, individuality.  And as relationships mature, ask the right people to take it to the next level.

Dating your Organization

So ask yourself… If someone was dating your organization how would they describe your interactions? How about their first, second and third date?  Are you sending flowers, picking up an old copy of their favorite book at a used book store, involving them in the things that both of you care most about? Or are you forgetting your anniversary and expecting them to make dinner every night?  To get good at relationship building you have to thoughtfully analyze your statistics. How are you measuring each interaction? Do you know who is ready to go deeper with you on your vision?

(3) What’s important?

It’s not just all about you. Get people engaged in your work by offering something in return. For example, Washington Trails Association offers the biggest and best hiking resource in the state which translates into an active membership base that advocates for trail funding, access and wilderness protection.  Sustainable Connections in Bellingham, Washington and The Environmental Center in Bend, Oregon both have easy-to-use sustainable business directories on their websites. Idaho Conservation League’s website offers site visitors in-depth legislative coverage on conservation issues along with Green Living Tips, an online hiking guide, online recipes, and more.

(4) What’s hype? 

Jeggings.

(5) What’s next?

Smart content – content that knows who you are, where you have been and has an opinion about where you should go next. …and bacon-flavored chocolate.

(6) What are the resources that you would recommend people explore in advance of Web of Change 10:10?

Jocelyn Harmon: Seven signs you’re a relationship wrecker.