fundraising, Twitter

The Power of Dedicated Thanks and Followership

4 Comments 22 November 2011

I don’t think I’ve ever worked with an organization quite like Epic Change. Founder Stacey Monk believes that “intention makes a powerful difference.” Epic Change is really all about intention: intention to build, fund, and support a school that literally changes children’s lives. Intention to listen. Intention to include everyone who wants to be part of the organization, and let everyone own this thing called Epic Change.

Epic Change is an example of an organization that really gets the idea of following its members, and intentional listening. Allison Fine recently wrote about this concept of “followership.” The bottom line, as Allison puts it is to “follow or become irrelevant.” If your organization isn’t willing to listen and include its followers, then it may well become irrelevant. As I have written before, Epic Change is anything but. Stacey and co-director Sanjay Patel invite anyone who is “heartfully-connected” (Stacey’s words) to become part of every online campaign, from planning through execution. They have three signature events: To Mama With Love, LalaLove, and now, Epic Thanks. Followers’ ideas are listened to seriously and included in the final product. In turn, Sanjay and Stacey also bounce their ideas off of the group and ask for feedback, always listening and always respectfully incorporating ideas. What is Epic Thanks is truly a result of great followership.

One example of followership is the gratitude dance idea. Sanjay Patel posted a video of the dance within the Epic Thanks planning group. Within minutes, the conversation within the planning group evolved from “I’m so not dancing” (me) to “what if we had a dance-off ?” (Stacey) to” let’s make a thank-you dance video if we hit our target amount!” And of course Stacey replies, “Let me see what we could build to host the video…may be able to get something up tomorrow…” Later that day, Stacey writes that she’s already filmed Leah, Gideon, and Mama Lucy (from the school) dancing…ready for their final thank-you dance video.

I cannot think of a better example of followership than Epic Change.

This Thanksgiving season, as in years past, Epic Change is raising money to support the Shepherds School in Arusha, Tanzania. The past three years, Epic Change has supported the school through a worldwide gratitude event called Tweetsgiving. It raised thousands of dollars to build and support the Shepherds Junior School, a primary school. Now the kids who had nowhere to go for an education are hoping that their dreams of becoming lawyers, doctors, and astronauts will continue with a secondary school education. The kids that started in 5th grade three years ago are ready for secondary school, but there is no secondary school in Arusha that will nurture and support these dreams. I met two of these students, Leah and Gideon, when they came to Boston two weeks ago with Mama Lucy (excuse the fuzzy photo of us at the bowling alley, but it’s the best image we have). If I do nothing else, I want them to have a chance to make their dreams come true.

So here’s my promise: I’ll dance if I reach my fundrasing goal of $100 for Epic Thanks. Please consider donating any amount, even $1 towards a worthwhile cause. And an organization that supports followership, intention, and children’s dreams.

I’m a terrible dancer, so this could get interesting… (But not as bad as Matt, apparently. See video below.)


  • What a great post! If I hadn’t already given, I would certainly do so just to see you dance!


    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Joanne, anything you’ve given is deeply appreciated. If you didn’t give to me, I hope you gave to John Haydon so we can all see him shave his head 🙂


  • Lucykamptoni

    Debra, you are truly amazing! Thank you so much for your continuing support. I’m glad we met in Boston two weeks ago. Nothing good as meeting people you value. Thanks for making this world a better place for so many of us. Love you!


    Debra Askanase Reply:

    Lucy, thanks so much for your kind words. Loved that we got to meet in Boston – only wish we had talked more! Thanks for all that you do for the kids at your school – it clearly is changing lives and creating dreams.



Debra Askanase is an experienced digital engagement strategist, non-profit executive, and community organizer. She works with mission-driven organizations to develop digital strategies and campaigns that engage, create trust, and move stakeholders to action. Debra speaks at conferences worldwide on the intersection of technology, social media, and nonprofit organizations.

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