If GDPR (sorry for bringing this up so early) has done nothing else for you or your customers and supporters, it has at least raised awareness of just how much we are bombarded with content, or indeed just how many email addresses are on databases that never, ever, respond to any marketing email.

What a huge waste of time, what a waste of effort and thinking, what a waste of attention.

GDPR has allowed us all to identify and see just how much resource is taken up in creating, sending, reading, deleting and unsubscribing from irrelevant content sent by organisations that we may have only given our email address to in order to allow access to a video, enter a competition, or subscribe to a newsletter that in the long run has done nothing more than clog up our inboxes.

Much like the planet – we humans have a finite amount of resources available. The focus of the sustainability market and those with ambitions to improve the state of the world’s environments is on material improvements, and rightly so. Although I wonder if an opportunity is being missed in understanding ‘human resources’ (in the very individual aspect of the phrase), and how NGO’s can support and nurture this simply by adopting smarter methods of engagement?

Let me try and explain, whether it is in a physical or mental state, we’ve all ‘hit a wall’ at some stage in our lives – A point at which we say “enough is enough, I can’t do any more, I’m not willing to do any more”. Our resources have been depleted to such a point that we become disengaged, we stop, switch off and default to recovery mode. That’s one reason why GDPR is in place.

When we are exhausted –  the last thing any of us want to do is be ‘confronted’ with more challenges, more information being thrown at us and dare I say, more content.

But what do many organisations do?

Emails are constantly sent (usually from ‘noreply@’ addresses), sign-ups asked for, links shared to forms that need completing. We ask for ‘likes’, request questionnaires to be completed and recommendations on a good service. It’s bizarre, and is exactly the opposite of what we really know – that people only have a certain well of resources that they can draw from – but as with the Earth’s environment, we can’t all stop chipping away at those resources – because we don’t know what else to do.

We are behaving as if humans have an infinite amount of resource, attention, passion and interest in our cause, brand or company – and that’s just not true.

Those of us who work in the sustainability sector, from consultants to NGO’s, suppliers and agencies, have an opportunity and responsibility to recognise that the resources of our supporters and customers are in effect the same as the planet – finite and precious. We should therefore develop engagement strategies that recognise this. So, over the next couple of months, I’ll be outlining some ways that may offer something a little different and yes, strategies that are more sustainable from the very ones that GDPR has been implemented to help prevent.