The DoSomething lessons

DoSomething is a stellar success, a fast-growing non-profit that's engaging with millions of young people around the world. Most organizations can learn something from their recent experiences. Basically, their customers changed. They changed how they consumed media, how they connected with each other and how they acted. If it is happening among teenagers now, it will happen to your audience soon.

Here's some of what they chose to do:

1. In a short-attention span, long-tail world, wide might be better than deep. In a typical year, DoSomething would launch 30 projects for their millions of members to take action on. Each project was refined and designed for maximum engagement. Last year, they rethought their process and launched SEVEN TIMES as many projects–more than 200. With the same staff. 

2. Being present in the moment is a great way to engage with people who live in the moment (teenagers). Because they can invent and launch a project in days instead of weeks or months, it's way more likely that a project will be relevant. More important, they now live almost exclusively in texts, the most urgent permission medium of all.

3. In a short-attention span world, sometimes you have to go deep, especially when it's personal. DoSomething has invested a huge amount of effort and money into building a crisis hotline that works by SMS. The data they've compiled is stunning, but the lives they've saved tell the real story.

4. Change shouldn't be made for change's sake. Change should happen because you care enough to make a difference. 

Most organizations go too slow, study things too much and most of all, work to not matter too much, because mattering is a good way to get noticed and getting noticed might get you in trouble. The upside of working in a fast-changing world is that you regularly get a new chance to reshuffle the deck and start mattering. Here's their new book on a workplace culture that embraces this new posture.

The work non-profits do is too important to be afraid of failure, and their work is too urgent to honor every sacred cow. The same thing might be said for the work each of us do.