At the end of last week Tim asked us what we'd learned from 50/50. Confronted with such a seemingly impossible question, I floundered.
Stepping back a bit, what is it that we were trying to learn? As he puts it:
"We've all been trying to work out how to leverage networks and new models of digital engagement to raise money for famine relief."
When we set out with the goal of doing what we could to relieve the suffering of those affected by the famine we had planned to create a single campaign, something that would raise awareness, and a little cash. However, it become apparent–pretty quickly–that this disaster required a solution far beyond the reach of a creative bake-sale.
We decided that the most powerful thing we could offer was our network of highly creative friends (and their friends... and, so on).
50/50 was borne out of a feeling that we had something to give to charities beyond hard cash, something unique, something they needed. In the past few months teams around the globe have taken part, raising a respectable amount of cash and awareness. Along the way, we believe we've learned a few things too: smaller, personal appeals are the way forward; people prefer action over emotion; big budgets can drive huge donations.
… these seemingly contradictory statements are the source of my floundering.
So instead of burying my head in project data analysis in order to figure out the answer, I headed over to a few fundraising blogs. What I found, surprisingly, was a thread of negativity towards traditional advertising firms that try to "do fundraising" (see this post from Mark Phillips on the D&AD awards blog for a biting summary).
While it's all too easy to assume that the not-for-profit sector has been exposed to a lot of bad "digital" for digital's sake, and that what we're doing is different, experimental, it's equally valid to assume that these discussions highlight a real problem: maybe we're just not doing enough listening to those who have dedicated their careers to causes such as this.
However, it's not all bad news. Reading a bit further I started to notice some familiar sounding theories:
"Things are moving so fast that spending time writing a ten year strategy is worthless."
AJ Leon, Misfit Inc
"The creative process that ignores the needs of donors is a waste of time and money."
Mark Phillips, Bluefrog
"On the Internet we can put up any crap...so we forget to prioritise, we forget to ask and we forget to rigidly monitor and analyse"
Beate Sorum, Norwegian Cancer Society
Sounds a lot like that thing we refer to as “Lean”...
Our thinking is converging. Charities know their donors; we know how easy it is to #buildshit quickly. We could learn a lot from each other. Shall we talk?
p.s. If you want to hear more from the NFP sector, check out @markyphillips notes from the International Fundraising Congress.