The nonprofit world’s “ladder of engagement”

When we talk about “engagement” in the news, often that includes the desire to motivate users to action of some variety.

  • We want to take the casual readers and increase their loyalty and commitment.
  • We want the loyal readers to start sharing our content with their friends.
  • We want the sharers to take our polls and comment on our content.
  • We want those easy actions to lead to more involved contributions of content.

Grant Barrett at the Voice of San Diego just told me this week that one of his jobs is to move people along a similar spectrum. And the goal isn’t a revolutionary one: Nonprofits have worked for years to motivate interested observers to get more and more involved. I’ve heard the concept referred to as the “ladder of engagement.” I set out to find the origins of the term, and I struck out. (If you have info on this, will you let me know?)

So I emailed Beth Kanter, who has been writing for and about the nonprofit sector for a decade. She said she has also had trouble nailing down where the idea began, but she’s written about it in general here, and specifically for Twitter and Facebook. She says it’s a commonly used concept in her world.

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