…When I’m quoted saying “it’s a thing!”
It was a beautiful privilege to be interviewed recently by the New York Times for a special section on Giving. Endless gratitude to my friend and fellow #donorlove champion Tom Ahern for making the introduction…
Tom gave me great advice about preparing for the interview, which was, in a nutshell: think about the 3-or-so points your really want to make, and move the conversation in that direction. Imagine the ideal headline and make sure what you’re saying gets you there. And, have fun, blurt, and make the donor-centred revolution proud.
You might be surprised to know that “it’s a thing!” did not make my list of crucial points (#facepalm). But here’s what did:
- The point about our mailbox versus our inbox. Real, actual mail is tangible and special. My email inbox is a gongshow, an endless gongshow. But what I get in my mailbox is amazing: postcards, handwritten cards or notes…my dad once sent me a half eaten Rice Krispie Square.
- The exercise around 24 hours before you were founded. It’s a powerful, important exercise to help your staff and volunteers connect and reconnect with the core values of your charity. Every single one of your donors hold a piece of those same values in their heart. Tell stories about putting those values into action. Show your donors how giving to you fulfils that value they cherish. And I’ve heard from many family, friends and colleagues that their favourite bit is the fist on the table. That’s my fave bit too.
So, doing pretty good, right? Both those points made it. But the 3rd point only made it a little bit, so I’m sharing my stream of consciousness with you lucky blog readers (suck on that, readers of the New York Times…just kidding, you’re awesome! And I feel very chuffed to be on your coffee table or tablet or computer screen…!)
The 3rd point was this. As charities, you are in the spectacular business of curating stories that your donors long to hear. And by giving, donors become part of that story. Your donors want to hear voices and stories echoing from across your organization. Voices of people who have been helped. Voices of devoted volunteers or staff who live and breathe your mission. Voices of other donors, like them, who share why they give and what matters to them.
Since when did charities get in the business of having boring CEOs “write” soul-less letters with no emotion, sign off with an unreadable rock star signature and enclose crappy mailing labels or tote bags or notebooks or all…? Letters that look and feel like they were churned out by robots for any charity. Churn, repeat, churn, repeat. Change a few words and it could be this mega health charity or that monster hospital…
Look at your charity’s appeals. Ask yourself what business you are in. Are you in the business of curating stories that your donors will long to hear and be part of? Or are you in the business of churning-and-repeating?
As always, I’d love to hear what you think!
P.S. The article appeared online earlier this week, and thank you to all our readers, colleagues and friends who shared it. And it’s in the actual printed Sunday Times newspaper today. Right?! It’s a thing!