Saturday, September 29, 2007

Team Effort Escapes Me

At Vanderbilt we recently put together fundraising promotion with our children's hospital. We hoped to sell additional tickets to a conference game that would otherwise not be sold, make a sizable donation to to a worthy cause, and garner the benefit of a local/national celebrity (Kix Brooks of Brooks and Dunn) endorsing our team and program.

I would rate the promotion at about a B. While we sold some more tickets, and made a decent donation to the children's hospital, we made great strides in branding our department and University as one that cares about our community and a very fine Nashville partner. Many people in the community commented on the generosity in a day and age of college athletics where money and spending is getting out of control. (see $100+M budget at Ohio State).

But this post is to talk about some of the things I learned along the way and the importance of building a consensus in support of a project.

I had the notion that because my fellow employees shared many of the same passions and interests, that the promotion alone would sell itself to them (my fellow employees). I had the thought that they would just blindly follow whatever lead I took in generating support for this cause. However, I think I was mistaken.

I sent an email to the staff of 100+ with some emotional case studies of children in the hospital and three specific bullets o how they could help. One of those options included simply forwarding the email along to their friends and family with a personal note of endorsement at the top. While I do not have data to support this, I have a pretty good hunch that less than 25% of the staff even forwarded the email! Shocking to me.

However, I learned something.

I put myself in their shoes. While I had lived and breathed this promotion for over 6 months, to many this email was probably their first exposure. (even though there was a significant media campaign and press coverage). So, it may have been "just another promotion or University initiative that they are asking me to help" ... delete.

To put it in another example, I asked myself how much I really paid attention to/assisted in communicating our new No Smoking policy. Not much. Why, because it just did not interest me. That is my fault.

In future such big ideas or projects I think I would try a few of the following:
  • Over communicate the launch of the idea to the staff
  • Communicate using varying mediums - email, voicemail, flyer in their mailbox
  • Personally distribute plan including the benefits and opportunity
  • Follow up with in person staff meeting visits
  • And for this type of event, maybe take as many staffmembers as possible on a tour of the hospital.

I had the thought if I put together a decent idea, the staff would simply do whatever I asked just because we work in the same place. That was wrong. And I will be better for it next time.

Take care.

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