As his eyes widened, I realized it was his world that was actually expanding.
If you have a child in your life, you’ll know what I mean when I say that it’s a brave new world for our children and their use of technology. My son Mason, at 4, knows how to access YouTube, search for and rank his favourite Transformers episodes and toy reviews. He’s been all Optimus Prime, all the time. Until #haiti.
And if you have a 4-year old in your life, you’ll know what I mean when I say they ask a lot of questions. Mason heard about the earthquake and erupted with questions (what makes an earthquake? Do they happen here? Why not?). Then he asked the question that really widened his eyes. And mine. “Mummy, what’s happening to people who live there?”
Mason sat on my lap while we looked at the coverage on cbc.ca and Twitter. He was like a sponge soaking in the videos, photos and stories. We talked about helping other families and chose to give to UNICEF and MSF.
Once again, I’m learning through the eyes of my kids. So here I am to write a blog about the spectacularly clear lessons I’m learning from Mason. And how it affects me – and you – as fundraisers.
Mason’s focus is locked on one question: “what’s happening now”. And he means right now. Not yesterday. Not after the polished speech has been written and edited. We heard a radio interview with a politician blathering about the accurate body count. And hearing it with Mason’s ears, I realized he doesn’t care. Mason cares about personal accounts, real stories, pictures. That’s what touches him. He can experience this story for himself, and that’s the only way he wants it. And I’m asking myself: am I really any different? The answer is no.
The next morning, Mason found me working at my computer. Still warm from his bed, he snuggled on my lap and asked me if we could look at pictures and movies of the families we helped. He felt connected to his gift, and wanted to see more. My heart was in my throat as we looked at the latest photos, videos and updates.
Now here’s an insight of my own: I’m amazed and delighted at how educated our society is become about giving. People are insisting on (and sharing) information about the charities that are really “on the ground” in Haiti. They are using Facebook, Twitter and other social networks to post their research and giving decisions with friends. Remember when it used to be just us fundraisers talking about ethics and integrity?
What does this mean for you? Yes, you. Even if you’re not in disaster relief.
Tell your story in responsible and honest ways. Use photos and video. Be active and engaging using the spaces and tools where your donors interact (with each other and with you). Establish yourself as a leader and authority. Remember that each and every day you can be memorable and inspiring, even when you’re not asking for money. Call your donors to action. Keep them informed.
Stop scratching your head about “how to get younger donors” and learn to speak the language of your next generation of donors. Because if you don’t someone else will. In fact, they already are.