Upping Your Game?

I set out for a drive this past Saturday, eagerly anticipating a couple of uninterrupted hours of NPR’s Weekend Edition.


My spirits fell, when I learned it was the first day of another membership appeal. I started to reach for the dial, but stopped and reminded myself how much I like this station.

I’m a huge fan of National Public Radio. And we’ve been long time supporters of our local affiliate as well.

There are just so many things they do right:

  • Like using well-recognized local personalities and tying into local civic organizations to staff the phones. When you call in to pledge, you can feel the genuine support and appreciation on the other end of the phone. And many of these individuals are advocates who promote their participation in their own social circles.

  • Or encouraging donations in low, very affordable monthly amounts. A monthly commitment of $10 or $15 adds up quickly…and as we all know, that donor is far more likely to renew than someone who makes a one-time contribution of the same amount.

  • And recognizing callers as they call in, using limited-time matching gifts, tying appeals to the program time slots, and so much more.

But, I wondered, as I listened to that and subsequent appeals, could they do even more?

How could you build in recognition of and appreciation for people who are already committed supporters? Maybe call out a long-time contributor or two. Or someone who first pledged during this programming “X” years ago and continues to support the station.

Surely this could be done in a way that does not interfere with the appeal for new members. In fact, I would think showing you respect and value your supporters could only encourage further support.

What do you think? More importantly, how do you recognize past support, even while building the case for additional assistance?

Done is better than perfect.

Whether you first heard it from Sheryl Sandberg in “Lean In” or the dozens of business development and self-care sites that quickly memed it up, the phrase “Done is better than perfect” is ubiquitous.

Some people and nonprofits look at this as a cop out. Because if you REALLY CARED, you would get everything perfect and it would be one hundred percent obvious to everyone who engages with your content that It. Is. Perfect.

Not true.

We continue to use this encouraging advice with our clients and in presentations — and likely always will. Here’s why:

Perfect focuses on the wrong things. Your excellent graphics and excellent production quality will never mask the fact that your content is poor. On the other hand, a shaky handheld video and quick type treatment are good enough when your material is on brand and delivers the goods (raises funds, engages constituents, energizes donors).

Perfect is invisible. We never advocate shoddy work that isn’t born of sound strategy. Obviously. But to consistently put off the launch of the campaign, the newsletter or the blog post because it doesn’t fit some arbitrary ideal only accomplishes one thing. It removes you from the conversation — removes you from your constituents’ radar and allows other, more enterprising groups to capture their attention.

Perfect doesn’t exist. Your audience doesn’t know that your Plan A didn’t come to fruition and you had to go with Plan B. They don’t know — or care — that your entire team isn’t in love with the header art you went with on that email. They don’t care. Those things aren’t their main concern and they shouldn’t be yours either. They want to know their contributions are fueling your work … and how they can continue to help you. That’s all. 

Focusing on perfect is a great way to stall. It’s an excellent way to avoid making decisions and moving forward. Ultimately, it’s a great way to look very busy and accomplish very little.

Get your content out there. Improve it consistently based upon what you learn.

But absolutely get perfect out of your head.

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Finding Relevance in Pop Culture

Once in a while, I just have to fangirl a campaign.

Today is that day.

I ran across this campaign the National Park Service—#keepwildlifewild.

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This safety campaign keys off the widely shared (and hilarious) memes about petting cats, dogs and other pets. So why am I fangirling this like I’m at a Justin Bieber concert in 2011? Because this campaign:

  1. Gets the message across—safety first when dealing with wild animals.. (This is the first job of any communication—to achieve a goal. And this does it.)

  2. Uses humor well. So often, humor falls flat. It’s either too insider-ey, inappropriate or just not funny. This strike the right balance.

  3. Makes the National Park Service feel approachable and not like a chilly government entity ready to issue you a ticket during your vacation.

Pulling off a campaign like this isn’t easy … and sometimes can seem terribly forced. It has to truly align to your nonprofit or the message you’re working to convey. Props to the National Park Service!