Saturday, June 14, 2008

Why MORE is Always LESS

Sometimes when I'm speaking to a group of nonprofit leaders I see their eyes glaze over when I start to list the INCREDIBLE VARIETY of technology tools they can use to achieve their goals. For example, last week during a workshop, I gave students a list of tools to create e-newsletters, including Constant Contact, My Emma, Vertical Response, etc., etc... I do this to be helpful, but I'm starting to think that this is not helpful at all. Instead of energizing my students with options, I'm actually creating paralysis!

This "eyes glazing over phenomenon" has a name. It's called the "paradox of choice." The idea is that the incredible range of options presented to us daily re: where to shop, what to buy, where to donate, what to eat, who to date, where to bank, even how to choose - actually makes us feel MORE anxious vs. less. Why? Because being confronted by a myriad number of choices (which we have no way to vet or assess) makes us worry about our ability to make the "right choice." And, the theory suggests that when feelings of paralysis set in, we're just as likely to DO NOTHING, as choose!


I know, I know, this goes against the grain for those of us who are in the business of "empowerment" but give it a try. For your next fundraising campaign consider ELIMINATING vs. ADDING options to the mix. Give prospective donors 1 or 2 options for how to help and see what happens.




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