Archive for November, 2013

The power of being earnest

DATE: November 21st, 2013

Last week, a 5 year old boy with leukemia who wanted to be batman touched the hearts of an estimated 1.7 billion people.

How did we get that? Well, check out Chris Taylor on Mashable, but here is the the sequence:

377,048 unique twitter users shared #batkid or #SFBatkid (14% were outside of the US)

21,683 Instagram and Twitter photos were posted  contributing to 120,439,533 views

When you add all the retweets and the followers of the retweets, you get to 1.7 billion.

Granted, there is going to be a lot of overlap.

But think about it.

A little boy told his story in a way that engaged a significant audience. Through Make-a-Wish, this little boy’s wish came true. More than 11,000 people turned out in costume to make the child’s dream a reality. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised so Batkid could save Gotham city… rescuing a damsel in distress, coming face-to-face with the Riddler…  protecting Gotham’s financial district and finally going after the Penquin who didn’t have a chance against the Batkid.

For everyone, but a small few naysayers, the story was heart-warming, giving pause to the resilience of the human spirit amidst the train crash of Toronto’s infamous mayor.

This raises a very interesting and, I think, significant issue for men and women who lead fund raising organizations. Thousands upon thousands of people gave just a little, so this little boy could realize his dream. Make-a-Wish put out the call, telling an extremely compelling story. Then they let social media take it from there.

The core?

An extremely compelling, human story.

Compare the story of a little 5 year old boy who is just coming out of a battle with a wicked disease to UNICEF’s compelling description of their work to save the lives of children:

In 2010, 7.6 million children died before reaching their fifth birthday. It is a sharp decrease from 1990, when more than 12 million children died under age five – but it is not good enough.

With less than 3 years left to reach the 2015 Millennium Development Goal (MDG) deadline on reducing child mortality, this progress must be dramatically accelerated.

Or World Vision’s description of their work:

Transformational Development is about building up communities through partnerships. Our partners are the communities we serve, sponsors like you, government agencies, faith-based organizations and other humanitarian organizations, all working together to make a lasting, tangible difference in the lives of children. Through Area Development Programs, we provide the support that children need to enjoy the fullness of life with justice, dignity, peace, hope and the boundless enthusiasm of childhood.​​​​​​​

Yeah, I’m guessing that gets shared extensively.

I know, in each of these organization’s defence, I did use their “all about” pages — not their donor engagement pages. Because the donor astutely can determine which pages were written for the board and CIDA and which were written for compassionate browsers who are looking for a cause to support.

My point? The world is changing.

And few organizations are changing with it.

You see, in the old days, we could print material for CIDA and different material for donors. We could keep the board minutes discreetly away from our audience.  What people said about us was confined to cocktail hours and dinner tables.

Today’s social environment means that our message can be driven by ANYONE. It seems more than 100,000 people took it upon themselves to make sure Batkid got the support he needed. Imagine if your organization has 100,000 people working towards the cause just 4 or 5 days a year.

Ultimately, the message they drive comes from you…