I can’t believe I am writing this article now.
I can’t believe these things have to be said.
I can’t believe that I actually found the time to write it with everything going on.
Truth be told, this is really a rant that would be way better off being filmed in my car while driving. You know the really angry ones that go viral? Yeah, one of those … but I’m on lockdown and there’s nowhere to drive, so I’ll have to try and express myself in writing with the same frustration that a video blog would have been able to offer.
Over the past week or so, we have all received emails from every company and website that we ever visited since the internet was invented with their COVID-19 response. I always wondered what they were going to do with my information. Now I know …
For the most part, I have ignored the emails; mainly because they’re all saying the exact same thing: Nothing.
A few emails, however, did stick out. One was from Galen Weston, CEO of Loblaws, which I thought was amazing. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. The others that caught my attention were all from different charities. Some charities are handling the situation as they should; others are completely blowing it. Like, badly.
So, here’s the deal: Unless you have a charity that is currently assisting people who are directly affected by Coronavirus, do not send out an email asking for funds, hinting to funds, or promoting your cause or matching campaign. Now is NOT the time.
Everyone in the world, including the donors you’re appealing to, are currently inundated with all kinds of financial issues, ever-changing contingency plans, emails, calls and whatever else. They, like you, are going through a rough, uncertain and scary time. They have the same information and concerns that you have. So unless your donors are in the business of manufacturing 3M N95 masks or Corona Test Kits, don’t ask them for money. Not now.If your charity is not in the “business” of helping those who need immediate assistance, sit down, be quiet and wait your turn.
Politicians and leaders around the world continue to close their borders, issue curfews, shut down life as we know it, and declare a State of Emergency. The entire world is in the middle of an unprecedented meltdown. Everyone is in need of help. This isn’t about you, nor will it become about you anytime soon.
As with Emergency Rooms, especially ones dealing with a “mass casualty event,” the ER Doctors (in this case, the Philanthropists who are still able to offer support) do triage to determine priority for who gets care first.
When people are coming in with missing limbs and heart attacks, the guy with the sprained wrist is going to be left waiting. He knows not to get pushy either. He stands no chance. And the guy with the headache knows not to even bother showing up to the Hospital. He knows to take an Advil, a glass of water, and go to sleep.
So, if you’re a school, a museum, a public library, a kangaroo orphanage, or a Foundation that raises funds to make custom tennis rackets for taller-than-average immigrant kids, and you are concerned that you won’t raise as much as you had expected to raise in your annual campaign, DO NOT send a long-winded promotional email to your top donors (read: people who you think can still afford to give you money despite everything THEY are going through) for emergency funds. This is NOT the time for that.Don’t send out emails in the hopes of being top of mind or front in line to take money from people as soon as they’re ready to start giving again. It doesn’t work that way.
For the most part, your top donors are most likely intelligent and sharp people. In fact, that’s probably why they have the money you’re angling for. By sending an email like this, at a time like this, you’re letting them know that you’re selfish, self-centered, short-sighted, and that your relationship with them revolves around one thing alone: Their money.In contrast, let’s look at an email I got from Leket, Israel‘s national food bank, that got me to immediately take action. (Their entire email, by the way, was only 3 sentences long!) It read as follows:
“Dear Friends, With the closing of hotels and corporate caterers due to government restrictions and general fear of infection, Leket’s traditional sources of excess prepared food have dried up, leaving its 9,000 daily hot meal recipients, many of them elderly, isolated and at high risk.Leket Israel will do all in its power to feed those in need at this time of uncertainty and aims to purchase 9,000 meals a day to meet this basic human necessity.$38 provides a hot meal for one person every day for a week. To donate for this emergency project click here.”
That’s all. Simple. To the point. No sales pitch, promotions, apologies, or crafty maneuvering necessary. The cause, and the urgency, speak for themselves.Likewise, I received a call today from Ori Goldstein, Executive Director of JACS Toronto, an incredible organization that helps thousands of people throughout Toronto in taking control over their addictions. Like many other organizations, they were forced to close their doors for the time being. Ori called me to say that he’d like to send out a mass email letting people know that they will continue to offer free therapy to anyone who needs, but the sessions will take place online instead of in-person. He wanted to run the text of his email by me to make sure that, as an outsider and supporter, I did not feel that the email gives off the wrong vibe.
Ori spent time drafting an email, and before sending it out, he wanted to make sure that it was appropriate and sensitive. Instead of worrying about how he would make payroll or about which fundraising events he will have to cancel — which are legitimate concerns — Ori spent hours of his day, amidst all the chaos, refining his email to respect the time and feelings of his donors in these difficult times. He put their feelings and needs before his own.
His email was NOT to promote his cause or to raise funds. The purpose of his email was only to let people know that JACS will continue to support members of the community struggling with addiction issues. Period. Full stop.
Here’s the bottom line: Your charity and the majority of your donors will still be there when this is all over. Your donors will always remember how you made them feel when they were down.
And for those charities who still don’t get it: Now is when they’re down.You’re Welcome.