This month is an anniversary month of several events that had to happen for Dear Chelsey to ever be made. It is the award-winning documentary that I produced, directed, shot, and edited – and I am very proud of it.
It was made to give people a glimpse of the world I lived every day for 13 years while I worked with children’s hospitals in the US and Canada. It’s something that people just don’t get unless they experience it first hand. At the same time, I’ve never had a sick kid in the hospital so I only know it from observing – but I’m always an attentive observer so notice almost everything.
While you enjoy the Christmas season – or whatever holiday you celebrate – remember that right now there are kids with cancer (and their parents and siblings) at Texas Childrens Cancer Center and at other hospitals all over the US who will be spending this time in the hospital fighting a dragon. Some will win, and some will not.
These families would rather be doing what you’re doing. Waiting too long for a table at a restaurant, being stuck in traffic, hunting parking spaces, and wondering how they’re going to pay for gifts – some are wondering what they would have bought for their child this year if their child were still alive.
This film is not meant to be a downer – it is in fact meant to help you appreciate the good things you have in your life – even if they’re small things – and also to give you hope.
There are very smart people who wake up every day who work to make life better for these sick kids. They will outsmart cancer and they will beat the dragon.
Please watch Dear Chelsey and share it with your friends.
[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/1″][text_output]Let me do you a favor from the very start with this disclaimer and tell you that if your company does not view supporting charitable causes as an important part of its corporate identity, you can check out now. You probably will not care about the next few paragraphs and I don’t want to waste your time.
But, if Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and making a positive impact in your community is something your company is already investing in, I can help you have a more significant impact with your efforts to support those causes – particularly if your corporate support is of the direct financial sort. And if you stick with me for just a few minutes, I bet you learn something.
Direct, monetary support from private businesses can help charities in a lot of ways. Most often corporate support will be used for a charities’ operating expenses, to pay for staff, or underwrite an event or other activity. Maybe they’ll put your name on a t-shirt or some other swag, give you sponsorship at a golf event, or put your logo on their website.
The bottom line: Charities want you to write them a check.
But what if you could give them something better? What if you could give them a platform that will provide greater, longer-term financial impact, increased visibility, and valuable social content?
In addition to that, what if the same platform gave your company long-lasting and valuable brand benefits that improve your revenue?
(You are getting something of value in this relationship, aren’t you?)
I suggest that you consider giving them something they can’t – or won’t buy.
In the nonprofit world, there is a metric known as donor retention. (A simplified explanation would be that the donor retention rate is the percentage of donors who gave last year and also gave this year.) In general, nonprofits spend less effort on donor retention activities because retention isn’t seen as a direct source of growth revenue and it’s a bit more difficult to measure the success of a donor retention activity.
For example, if a charity initiates a campaign and asks 1,000 people for $10 – they can easily measure the effectiveness by counting the money at the end of the campaign. Simple enough.
A donor retention operation is meant to help prevent existing supporters from ending their support, so the difficulty comes in how to measure the number of people who were going to stop giving, but didn’t stop? See what I mean?
Since it’s not easy to measure and because running a retention operation would take money from other “growth” programs, retention tends to be a low priority.
Why isn’t there more of an effort to address this? Maybe it’s because the charities are too busy asking for new money – which they must continue to do. But I want you to consider the following statement from Professor Adrian Sargeant:
“Improving Donor Retention by Just 10% Can Double the Lifetime Value of your Donor Database.”
What would a 10% improvement in donor retention mean to the organizations you support? What if we could do even better?
Working together, we can increase the ability of the non-profits you support to serve their constituents. Equally as important, we will deepen your companies’ corporate brand and create strong, long-term images of goodwill and community involvement that result in greater customer preference and loyalty.
I’d love to talk to you directly about what causes are important to you and your current social impact activities and share some ideas with you.
***If you didn’t change the channel after the disclaimer – don’t think that terms like, “corporate identity”, “brand benefits” and “Corporate Social Responsibility” don’t apply to your small company – they do. Even if you don’t use the terms, they’re identifying characteristics of how businesses are known in the marketplace and the way they operate. Well-positioned companies typically lead competitors for the same space, and it doesn’t matter if the company is a local services company or a Fortune company.[/text_output][/vc_column][/vc_row]
You can plan all you want, spend too much to promote, write, re-write, and massage a script, cast the perfect face or voice for a campaign, shoot and re-shoot film and still end up with something like that stuff you recently scraped off your shoe.
I’m writing this as just another reminder to any of my current and former colleagues working in the non-profit sector with huge lists of top tier recognizable names as national sponsors, MILLIONS in marketing budgets, program partners willing to drop even more coin than they are already paying to be part of a ‘test’ program that if successful might become a “signature event”, and teams of people working day and night to come up with the next piano cat video – please realize one thing:
You don’t “make” viral. Viral happens. Or it doesn’t. You do not control it.
For those who don’t know, a signature event is one like Komen’s “Race for the Cure” in all its glorious pinkishness – when you see Pink, you think of one thing. National Multiple Sclerosis Society has Bike MS. Most charities have one or more events that fit the signature category.
I’m sure The Ice Bucket Challenge – a viral activity – will be that kind of event for ALS charities.
I have consulted with hundreds of charitable organizations – but never the ALS Association. However, I’m going to give them just one piece of totally free advice on the Ice Bucket Challenge that I think is smart and valuable – and here it is:
As much as possible, KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF!
Support it. Promote it. But don’t make a logo for it. Don’t bring it in-house because you want to control it. If you do, you will suffocate it. And don’t get it sponsored! If I hear “Rubbermaid, the official bucket of the Ice Bucket Challenge” I’m gonna be pissed!
The creativity of some participants is inspiring and if the ALS Association had to pay for it, they wouldn’t be able to afford it. Just sit back and be grateful for Chris Kennedy, Pat Quinn, Pete Frates and the thousands upon thousands of people who came after them who are bringing awareness and money to the ALS fight.
They will keep it alive.
The brilliance is in its simplicity. The Ice Bucket Challenge just happened and if you had locked your staff in a conference room for a month, you likely would not have come up with TIBC. (And if you did, it wouldn’t have the fire you’re seeing.)
It wasn’t even initially for ALS – it’s just something weird that morphed into what is now happening. And the Ice Bucket Challenge was working before celebs got involved. (I’m not a fan of buying celebrities for a cause – if they want to help, then help. If not, move along.) Also, these celebs were not ‘courted’ or wined and dined with money better spent on furthering the cause, they were called out by their friends.
I cannot count the number of of times I was part of fly-in meetings with 20 or more people attending, 2 or more nights in hotels, expensive dinners, delayed flights, and extended time away from family. (I know that last one is disappointing for those who PREFER to be away from home.) The purpose of the meetings were always to come up with the NEXT BIG THING – an attempt to create a movement.
Sure, we ended up with a new program or two that were expensive and required lots of hours of work added to the already over worked staff at the affiliate locations but a “movement” was never the result. The best scenario is to work to create an environment where a movement could happen.
The Ice Bucket Challenge is fun, goofy, powerful, and authentic. Most of the videos I’ve seen don’t even mention the charity or cause because – in an impressively brief period of time – it is already so well known that everyone assumes that you know what this thing is. No logos. No misty dream shots, or god-forsaken, manipulative, and poorly acted re-enactments.
Charities often try too hard and, unfortunately, it’s not easy to break bad habits. Charities – especially some that I am intimately familiar with – need to change HOW they think and sometimes that requires a brain transplant.
However, I’m 99.9% sure there are going to be lots of meetings in the near future (if they haven’t already begun) for more than one charity to figure out NOT how to change they way they think, but to come up with their version of the Ice Bucket Challenge.
Why? Because managers LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! meetings.
BTW: How many managers do you think worked on this? East Hills Mall in St. Joseph, Missouri in on the map with nearly a million views in day and a half. It’s bad, but it is sooooo good.
If you didn’t know, for over 13 years I worked with an organization called Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. Even though I recently left the company, those were some of the most fulfilling years of my entire life. I had experiences few will ever have and met people – mostly kids – who I will never forget. CMN Hospitals was founded by none other than Marie Osmond – yes, that one and John Schneider – yes, that one.
Over those years I had a number of occasions to spend time with John and Marie, and since these are typically entertainment and fundraising events, we were working. I have also seen them in some very sincere moments when they realize this “thing” they helped to create 30 years ago has literally helped millions and millions of kids – it’s hard to not get caught up in the emotion when you are with one of those kids who saved because of the help that has been provided by a hospital you support. You’ve given them life and hope and another chance.
I never see them caught up in their own lives. Also rare is capturing that moment when it happens.