It’s face-to-face, not just Facebook

Lest we be lulled into thinking that relying on electronics and social media will satisfactorily meet our fundraising goals, the research suggests nothing beats face-to-face contacts.

Jonah Lehrer wrote in the Wall Street Journal over the weekend that Google+ has had a remarkable launch, and some people are calling it the “Facebook killer.” However, he wrote, “there is good reason to question whether any new technology—even one as well designed as Google+—can effectively imitate our face-to-face interactions. There’s a long history of such claims, and none of them has panned out.”

Lehrer points out that the telephone was supposed to reduce the need for personal contact. So were faxes and later e-mail. He quotes a Harvard economist who has concluded, “Millions of years of evolution have made us into machines for learning from the people next to us.”

The application for fundraisers is clear. As philanthropy guru Jerry Panas likes to say, you can’t get milk from a cow by sending her a letter. You have to get up close to the cow and work at it.

The value in social networking is not as a substitute for socializing, Lehrer wrote, but in being a supplement, “amplifying the advantages of talking in person.”

Lehrer’s article is stored here.

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