April 6, 2011

Heart, Head, Hand & Complexity

I’ve just started collaborating with Peace Over Violence and saw this fundraising video they did at the end of last year.

It was highly successful: 50% increase from the previous year's annual appeal; doubled the number of donors; and brought in 30% new donors, which they attribute to the viral nature of the video.

It’s a great example of applying my Heart, Head & Hand(TM) framework to video. Emotional connection followed by data (presented graphically, not to diminish or compete with the emotional resonance of the speakers), closing with a strong and compelling ask.

One aspect that I imagine contributed to the success of the video is the acknowledgment of complexity. Note Leona, from 1:03 to 1:26:
A lot of times, and particularly with this case, yes, it had a very great outcome: the person who harmed is now going to go to jail. But the family has to deal with this concept of, 'Okay, but now we have this family member that has to go to jail.' And there's the complexity that's around - particularly in families where the abuse is within the families - separating out what that person did, and that person also being a family member.
Increasingly, I am finding that audiences are deeply appreciating organizations that acknowledge the complexity of their work; they can relate to life not being black and white, and they are happy that someone is stepping up to work in complex spaces.

I've seen this frequently with National Advocates for Pregnant Women, when audience members thank Executive Director Lynn Paltrow after a speech, for "finally, perfectly, capturing the complexity of what I am feeling." And, certainly, some (if not most) great literature presents complex characters in complicated situations.

Chances are, if you are a nonprofit organization, the solutions you are offering to seemingly intractable problems are fairly complex. That's good, and as it should be. Talk about that complexity, because people will, indeed, understand.

I worked with Enterprise Community Partners in engaging wealthy, altruistic, potential donors with the following
Think of when you bought your home. Or think of when you may have built a home, or done a renovation. Think of all the institutions and vendors that were involved. Think of the brokers you may have hired, or the general contractors, to get things done that you didn’t know how to do. Now, imagine if you were attempting to purchase land or property, renovate it or build on it, and wanted to make that property available to scores of families, while making sure those families would be safe, have access to schools and parks, and could afford their homes forever.

...Enterprise is the leader in navigating the financial, political, and social complexities of creating and preserving safe, healthy, and affordable homes. Please join Enterprise in finding big-picture, long-term solutions to some of our nation’s most difficult problems.
The truth is in the grey zone. Acknowledge complexity. Don't ask your donors to work as hard as you, however; make their ability to contribute to your solution easy.

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