Blog Post – Philanthropy Has Discovered Resonance, But Futurus Actually Measures It: August 26, 2020

Futurus Group

Philanthropy Has Discovered Resonance, But Futurus Actually Measures It

by Futurus Group: 8/26/20

Resonance has not yet become a buzzword in the world of philanthropy, but it’s headed this way. For example, Philanthropy News Digest reported last year on a social justice initiative hoping to change the way grants are made. Based on the concept of choir music, it emphasized resonance to create powerful, moving music. The group, Justice Funders, prepared a report titled Resonance: A Framework for Philanthropic Transformation. They argue it is past time for charitable organizations to put their resources — including finances, knowledge, and human capital — to work in novel ways.

As they write:

Individual philanthropic organizations are fully capable of restructuring how their resources are deployed: more cooperatively, restoratively and regeneratively. It is with the belief that change begins with each of us — and that every one of us working in philanthropy can make a choice about what to do with the power and privilege that the field affords us — that we share this framework for philanthropic transformation.

Based on this excerpt, the Justice Funders believe the philanthropic industry should transform its processes to better resonate with the communities it serves. Our company Futurus Group is also deeply concerned with the concept of resonance because we know it’s the future of giving.

But let’s back up a bit. What do we actually mean when we talk about resonance? Merriam-Webster provides multiple definitions for the word. In the world of science, resonance explains how sounds are strengthened through different sources of vibration. A related definition, one closer to the world of philanthropy, is: “a quality of evoking response.”

In a previous post, we discussed the importance of nonprofits seeking those in the community who most resonate with their mission. These individuals may be thought of as the nonprofit’s tribe, based on a concept espoused by marketing expert Seth Godin. According to Godin, a tribe is composed of those aligned with an organization’s mission, willing to put their time and money towards the nonprofit achieving its goals.

We will return to this idea of resonating with your organization’s tribe in a moment. (It would be a mistake to race past the scientific definition of resonance, which serves to illustrate the importance of finding individuals resonating with you and your group.) MIT demonstrates resonance with an experiment featuring two identical tuning forks. When one is hit with a hammer, the other also produces sound because it resonates with the first. Along the same lines, it would be helpful for your organization to ask itself: “Who resonates with us?” After all, resonance is a key visceral reaction humans feel towards different people, groups, and causes. The trouble is most organizations cannot accurately gauge resonance until it becomes obvious.

Returning to Godin, it becomes ever clearer that finding your tribe — those who resonate with your organization — couldn’t be more essential during these economic times. This is where Futurus Group comes in. Locating your tribe, those who most resonate with your mission — cannot be accomplished by just categorizing people by race, creed, or color. Instead, properly measuring this connection requires considering hundreds or even thousands of variables. These must be studied to understand their actionable importance: how they can lead to a group’s desired outcomes.

Futurus Group works with our clients to do just this work. We develop a Gratitude to Give (G2G) score for every member of a community because we have learned gratitude is the resonant quality that most leads to giving. An algorithm completely customized to each organization is therefore run through our machine learning system, producing a score to gauge the level of gratitude felt towards an organization.

Yes, it may seem like we’ve switched the topic from resonance to gratitude, but we have not — the two concepts are intertwined. Gratitude leads to giving, but resonance leads to gratitude. This begs the question: can you confidently say what factors lead people to resonate with your group? And do you have a clearer picture of what interactions may cause people to most appreciate the work you do?

Ultimately, organizations partnering with Futurus Group obtain these answers based on (measurable) data collected and analyzed with scientific rigor. And thanks to machine learning, our G2G algorithm actually evolves over time as your organization and its environment change, meaning the actionable data gets more accurate, not less. If you are ready to find those people who most resonate with your tribe to achieve positive measurable results, click here to schedule a 15-minute call, or visit us at to start this very needed conversation.

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