Random Thoughts on Life and Work

January 8, 2016

The Effects of Giving

PBS Newshour had an interesting segment during the show on January 7. A University of British Columbia research team conducted a small study on the effects of giving in toddlers and then carried it beyond to college students and adults. In the study, they found that even young toddlers express happiness when giving something to others.

I suspect anyone in fund-raising/fund-development will tell you, “duh” to the concept that it is actually a pleasurable experience to give. One of the interesting (and again, not new) findings in the study is that people who have the opportunity to see and/or experience the impact of their giving are even happier than those who just gave to a general “fund”. However, how often do organizations get caught up in trying to raise funds so that “we can accomplish our mission.”?

You likely saw the UNICEF and/or ASPCA commercials during the holiday season. What struck me about those efforts was the fact that there was no impact of my gift. All I saw was a portrayal of a very negative situation with a statement – help us help them.  I have to confess, I was extremely turned off by the ads finding them very ineffective at telling me how either of these organizations do anything positive. Where were the impact/results pictures?

Watch the PBS segment and then consider your own communications. What are you telling your readers/listeners/site visitors? Are you telling them why they should support you? Or are you telling them that their gift has changed the life of Samuel who now has his own bed or Mary who can go to school because now there is clean water right in her village?

June 3, 2010

Twitter and Customer Service

Filed under: Internet — Darren Mullenix @ 8:28 am
Tags: , ,

Haven’t posted in a long time!  But this was an interesting experience so too good not to share.

Been having internet access troubles at home.  Access provided by Charter Internet.  Got online at work to chat with their customer service.   They obviously have a few things to learn and train their techs on.  Needless to say it was not a good experience.  I was frustrated enough that I tweeted some of the more choice questions and answers that were exchanged.

Here’s where it gets interesting.  Within minutes of my first tweet I get a direct tweet from their U Matter To Charter department asking me to follow so that we could tweet/discuss the situation.  Explained what was happening.  He tested from where he was located and agreed that there was still a problem.  Escalated the tech request.  We had a tech at our house the next afternoon checking things out.  Got it working temporarily.  System went down again over the weekend.  Tweeted directly to support this time (why not since I had his address).  Got quick escalation.  Tech back to the house.  Spent a good bit of time there yesterday.  The technical problem is still not resolved – he’s supposed to be back this morning.  But they are working on it.

What I want to focus on is the use of social media like twitter to resolve customer support issues.  While it should have never gone that far, I commend Charter for having the foresight to troll Twitter to watch for issues occurring.   They took the initiative to see my tweets and respond.  My tweet was not nice.  But when they responded it was very professional and the response was quick.

Now hopefully my access will be restored today.

November 2, 2007

Blogging Employees

One of the challenges that organizations face with the growth in social media and the blogosphere is the issue of employees blogging about their work.  I had an interesting discussion with a staff person from an international non-profit.  This person raised the issue from a security perspective.  There is a certain amount of risk in allowing an individual to blog about their work from a country that may have security issues.  The knee jerk reaction was to create a policy that would govern what blogging was allowed, what wasn’t, or would cut it off altogether.  I think after some discussion, I was able to share some insights about the value of training rather than policy and the value to the organization to have staff tell the “real-time” story of what is being accomplished.  Here are some points to consider:

  1. The personal voice of a staff member can have huge impact to their immediate circle and beyond.
  2. Be cognizant of the potential danger for staff who live in risky areas of the world.  Communicate that danger to those who are headed to those areas of the world.
  3. Train your team members to communicate clearly.
  4. Consider providing a centralized avenue for blogging with minimal controls.
  5. Be clear about what is not acceptable. 
  6. Recognize that short of termination, you really can’t stop the blogging. 
  7. Remember, that for many, blogging may be cathartic and a way of releasing the stress of the work place.

I hope that helps.

July 18, 2007

Who Is Telling Your Story?

Or maybe more accurately, who is telling stories about you?

I was recently doing some surfing to find web references to my employer and discovered some interesting things.  Not that this is particularly new to anyone reading this space or other blogs in the list to the right.  If you aren’t telling your story in as many places as possible, it is likely that somebody else will be telling stories about you.  And yes, there is a distinction. 

The information that you post on Wikipedia about your organization may be consistently different than information that is posted about you by someone else.  If you allow another individual to control your story, you may be sorry. 

And what about Facebook?  Same thing.  Allowing others to dictate the interaction may not be what you want.

Now, I am not saying that you bite the hand that feeds you.  Actually, what needs to be done is create a consistent, accurate access point to your organization.  And then let your donors and constituents make use of the information.

Do you have a FaceBook group created?  Maybe you should think about how you might make use of the space to inform, encourage, and motivate your donors.

Do you monitor Wikipedia to see what is being posted on your space.  It is, after all, an encyclopedia that provides information about your organization.  Has someone done a “dump and run” on your space?  Go clean it up.

Is someone posting your media files to places like YouTube, BrightCove or other hosting sites?  Plan a release strategy that beats them to the punch and grabs viewers back to your website.

Hopefully this helps to stimulate some thinking about making use of the spaces that are available to you.  Take the time to search various locations.  You might be surprised at what you find out about yourself.

June 20, 2007

Sharing Data

Filed under: Internet,nptech,Online Community,Software — Darren Mullenix @ 2:05 pm

Okay, here is something for the wow factor! I tried to embed the original in this post but it didn’t want to work today for me.  But here is the link to a demo of Photosynth software.

Enjoy wrapping your brain around the implications of the technology and how it might be used.

Thanks to As The Table Turns for pointing me to this.

Control vs Enablement

In “enablement” even a word?  Hmmm. 

I recently ran into the wall (again) regarding the issue of control of how donations are “collected” and how donors are acknowledged.  I am a little puzzled by the response but I do understand it in a way. 

A donor recently set up a fundraising page using FirstGiving.  The donor and her spouse were off to run a marathon and thought it would be a great way to raise money for their favorite cause.  I would hazard a guess that many readers are quite familiar with FirstGiving and similar sites.   Their goal was a modest $3,000 and I think to-date they have raised about $2,500.  The event was in early May.  (A minor critique of FirstGiving – I didn’t know the donor had done this until the first check arrived.  FG should set a notification system to help charities be aware of what is being done on their behalf.)

So now we have money coming in, opportunity to respond to the supporters of this couple, but I am trapped in procedure.  Our Finance staff is concerned with how we account for the fees that are taken by FirstGiving.  Our legal office is concerned about the lack of a formal agreement between us and FirstGiving for facilitating the activity.  There is the question of FirstGiving being a “paid fundraiser” for us since they are taking a fee for “raising money”.  And a couple others are asking why we can’t set up our own similar service through our website.

Now, I am not saying that these are not valid questions to ask.  The issue has more to do with perspective than with the questions themselves.  I have tried to explain that FirstGiving is not the entity making “the ask”.  It is the individual who sets up the page.  They are just using the technology that FirstGiving supplies.  However, this seems to be falling on deaf ears. 

I offer this case study as a lesson for others.  While most of us understand how we can take advantage of this kind of web technology, there are others who are focused on “typical fundraising”.  Be aware that you will run into the occasional wall or resistance to new things.  Build your case for why this new technology is a good thing.  Focus on the advantages for donors and secondarily on the benefits to your organization.  Point out the relationship building that can be done with donors by allowing (facilitating) them to help you. 

One other thing.  Think through the issues about acknowledging donors to a fundraising activity organized by one of your donors.  Remember that they are supporting their friends and may not be connected to you at all.  You probably don’t want to automatically put them on your mailing list.  But you do want to offer them the opportunity to be involved with your organization if they choose.  Provide enough information to interest them and maybe raise their curiosity.  Then let them choose how they want to interact with you.

June 1, 2007

Job Title Inflation

Filed under: Charities,Internet,Management,Marketing,Non-Profit,Promotion,Strategy — Darren Mullenix @ 10:20 am

One of the lessons I learned through our reorganization project recently was the power of words – especially when attached to job titles. 

In an article in the recent Knowledge@Wharton e-newsletter the author points to the value of how titles are created and the intrinsic message that is created as a result.  At the same time, there is recognition that “title inflation” may be the unintended result of the drive to create titles such as Chief Relationship Officer, Chief Development Officer, Chief Experience Officer, etc. 

However, I would hazard a guess that many of us have experienced roles that probably had a “normal” title but the work was more in the line of the new title trends.  I would suggest that we start considering a multi-level title.  The first is level is the “public” title that goes on the business card.  The second is the internal title that helps to explain what the employee actually does and may be placed as a sub-title on the business card.

Let me offer an example:

Many non-profits are starting to recognize the power of the internet and the brand/image that they project through their Web interactions.  And some, are taking that to the next level and actually assigning a staff person the duty of monitoring the traffic on the internet that relates to their organization.  This person may be a staff person on the Web team, a donor response person, a communications person, or some other “regular” role.  However, their sub-title might be Chief Web Experience Officer. 

Herein lies some danger though.  As we strive to encourage our staff and provide experiences to them that they find valuable, it is important to realize that placement and title-ing is only part of the story.  Support and resources become critical to enhancing the results.  It is not enough to provide a fancy title.  We must be prepared to allow the person to act within their role.

If you are working through job descriptions, organization charts, staffing needs, etc consider the words you use.  Not only in the titles but in the descriptions.  They may be more important than you think.

Some rambling thoughts for consideration.

April 5, 2007

Are You A Pinhead?

Filed under: Internet,Marketing Communications,Non-Profit,Promotion,Strategy — Darren Mullenix @ 6:12 am

Since you’re reading this blog, probably not.  Some people might question why this blog but that is a different issue.

The issue of corporate transparency continues to be debated in many circles.  Church of the Customer has a great post about the challenges we face in trying to convince our employers or clients to open the doors to their organization.  You can find the post here.  Look at the last couple of paragraphs in particular.

Take a moment to read it and then think about the “pinheads” you have had to deal with.

February 22, 2007

Internet Collaboration

The Wharton Business School has published an article in their Knowledge@Wharton e-newsletter that is definately thought provoking although I would say, “What took them so long?” 

The key paragraph in this article comes about half way through the article and is something that the non-profit world needs to make sure they take note of.

And I quote:

The defining traits of the Internet since the year 2000 — especially the ability of users to create content and form communities of interest — have created what Williams described as “public squares” in comparison to what he called the “walled gardens” of the pre-2000 web. The changes are driven by young users who are exhilarated by the variety of choices offered by the Internet but who also carefully scrutinize the companies they buy products from. The Wikinomics authors found that 65% of this new generation of online customers wants a two-way relationship with the brands they select, with the ability to provide feedback and direct input.

This issue of the two-way relationship is important and as the mistrust/distrust of the non-profit world continues, it behooves us to find ways to provide for that two way interaction.  Your donors will be more committed to you and indeed will likely become your advocates.

Enjoy the article.  It is a solid read.

January 16, 2007

Enhancing the Donor Experience

I had the privilege last week of presenting with my good friend Foster Chase of MinistryLinq at the annual Christian Stewardship Association conference in Dallas, TX.  The title of our presentation was e-Relationships: Using Internet Technology to Enhance Constituent Relationships.  Our audience was made up of primarily development professionals looking for new ideas on web based development.  (At least that is what we hoped the audience was made up of.)  (more…)

Next Page »

Blog at WordPress.com.