This page describes our policies and practices on outreach, which encompasses any activities that serve the purpose of helping Why This Way grow as an organization, and helping our message reach a broader audience.
One of our core beliefs is that acting in accordance with our values is always more important than the growth, financial prosperity, and reputation of the organization. This, together with other beliefs, such as our emphasis on consent and respectful communication as outlined in our rules of communication, guide and shape our group's practices on outreach.
Our guidelines on outreach
Our goals for outreach are to make it easy for people to learn about our group, and make our group, meetings, and ideas inviting and accessible. We want people to come to our group of their own self-motivation, and we want to avoid creating social pressure or any other type of pressure to participate in or engage with our group in any way.
Some of the methods of outreach we use include:
- Maintaining a public-access website, outlining our beliefs and practices
- Using social media to share material we have created in our group
- Talking with people about the group and its ideas, when they naturally come up in conversation
- Asking people who are not involved in our group, for input and feedback on wiki pages and topics that we have discussed or are in the process of discussing, when those people are particularly interested in or knowledgeable about a particular topic
Our guidelines on outreach:
- Follow the rules of communication when talking about the group or writing anything with the intention of outreach.
- Obtain people's consent (opt-in) before subscribing them to anything that sends them mailings or electronic notifications, such as adding them to an email list or subscribing them to a Facebook group.
Common problems with outreach methods
Religious and non-religious organizations alike can employ outreach techniques that can have unintended negative consequences. Examples include:
- Alienating people from an organization that they might otherwise want to support, through coming across as too pushy
- Creating insincere participation or involvement, due to pressuring people to get involved
- Making people uncomfortable in public spaces
Alienating people from organizations they might otherwise want to support
Many organizations exist to promote a specific cause or set of goals, or to service a particular value system or belief system. If an organization is overly pushy, or engages in outreach, evangelism, or marketing in ways that a person objects to, it can cause people to withdraw from the organization or withhold support or participation. This can hinder the advancement of the goals or purposes of the organization.
Encouraging insincere participation
When organizations or people exert pressure, such as social pressure, on people to become involved in a group, they can get involved even when they have unresolved objections. Pressure can include pressure to do things like:
- Attending meetings
- Professing belief publicly, as in creeds in a service, or in a ceremony to profess faith or belief
- Signing pledges or contracts about beliefs
- Donating to an organization
The pressure for insincere participation does not need to be explicit. For example, a newcomer to a group, invited to a meeting in which everyone is doing certain things, can create a social pressure for a person to do those things.
Pressure can create resentment in the case where a person participates, donates, or professes belief, and later regrets their decision. This resentment can make it difficult for the person to later have a positive relationship to the organization in question, and can make it likely that a person will withdraw their support or even begin actively opposing the organization.
Making people uncomfortable in public spaces
Organizations or people that aggressively initiate contact with strangers in public spaces can make people uncomfortable in these spaces, and in some cases, lead people to avoid these spaces. This can hinder the ability for public spaces to promote community; we have identified a sense of safety and belonging as an important part of community, and overly aggressive contact with strangers can directly threaten this sense.