Archive for August, 2009

Tribute to Volunteer Videographers

Posted on August 19, 2009. Filed under: Customer Service, Leadership |

In case you haven’t been following it, one of the most viewed Youtube videos in recent weeks is by Steve Carroll, the professional musician whose guitar was damaged by United Airlines baggage handlers. United then refused to pay any damages. Big mistake.

Steve Carroll promised to write three songs about the experience, and after the first one, United Airlines offered to pay. Mr. Carroll told them to keep the money, but that they could donate it to charity if they wished.

The United Breaks Guitars Song 1 has received more than 5 million views since July, song # 2 has received 24,139 in the 24 hours since it was posted.

Here’s song number two:
United Breaks Guitars Song 2

At the end of the video, you’ll see that the entire production was done by volunteers, who have obvious talents in the video and music world. I do think the entire experience is a great example of how poor customer service can have repercussions way beyond the original incident.

Bill Huddleston

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Another Clueless Board of Directors – PCRM

Posted on August 11, 2009. Filed under: Leadership, Non-profits |

Obama’s Kids – Out of Bounds – Where Was the PCRM Board?

The Physician’s Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) just started a new advertising campaign aimed at the fact that most school lunches in the country do not have vegetarian or vegan choices. You may agree or disagree about the validity of a vegetarian diet for growing children, so what’s the big deal? The issue is that PCRM –without asking permission – uses President Obama’s daughters in the advertisement. The posters have a picture of a little girl (she looks about eight to nine years old) asking the question “President Obama’s daughters get healthy school lunches. Why don’t I?”

In a front-page story in the August 11th Washington Post about the issue, the article states that PCRM President Neal Barnard, as believing that “the objection comes solely from the president’s “handlers” (a.k.a. Associate White House Counsel Karen Dunn and Deputy Associate Counsel Ian Bassin) and “not from the first family itself.” Barnard then adds: “I was not about to pull the ads. They’re important, and they’re good, and they raise the issue, speaking for kids in America. And I’m not about to have them shut me up because they’re nervous.”

WRONG, Mr. Barnard! The President’s kids are off limits, and have always been off limits for commercial, or in this case, non-profit gain. That’s one area where regardless of party, most people would agree that the Presidents who have had younger children in the White House have done a good job of raising good, decent citizens (including Presidents Nixon, Carter, Clinton, George W. Bush, and now President Obama).

BTW, here’s a clue for uninitiated, if the White House calls and says “there is an objection to what you’re doing” you really should listen. Remember, Washington is the only town where buildings speak (White House says, Pentagon says, etc.) but that doesn’t mean that they are not accurately representing the position of the leaders in the building.

Where was the Board of Directors? I can’t imagine that anyone with a lick of common sense would have approved this ad. Here’s my prediction, there will be a firestorm of criticism, which is deserved, and their true agenda will be eclipsed by this truly stupid decision.


Bill Huddleston

P.S. BTW, my daughter is a celiac, (can’t have wheat) so school lunches are off limits to her as well. Our solution – she brings a bag lunch. It works, and works fine. I don’t think I should try and force the school system to have a gluten free menu, there are too few kids, and it would be too expensive from a budgetary standpoint.

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Geography Matters and Is Personal

Posted on August 7, 2009. Filed under: 1 |

On Katya’s Non-Profit Marketing Blog she has a post about
“The albino squirrel and the investor: aka the problem with donors”
The link is here:

Geography Matters and Is Personal

That’s the concept that seems to be missing from these discussions about “high impact philanthropy” as if there is a “rational market based philanthropy fund” into which any willing donor pours their money, and they get back the “most improved” community. Sounds great, but the only problem is that it doesn’t exist.

One element is just as you described, the personal element, and a component of that is geography. There are probably albino squirrels in Oregon, but you don’t care about them, you care about the one on your block. Why? Because that’s where you live, or it’s a place that you have an association with and care about. It’s this personal connection aspect that seems to be missing from the discussions about “high impact” philanthropy.

Obviously in a given area, if there are two non-profits with similar missions, the one that does a better job will hopefully attract more support. But what if that’s not the case, what if the donor’s decision is about supporting a non-profit in Anacostia (low income section of Washington, D.C.) or picking a random county from the “100 poorest counties in the US” list? My prediction is that most donors will choose to give to the non-profit located in the area that they have a connection to, wherever that may be.

Bill Huddleston

P.S. CFC = Combined Federal Campaign, CFC donors are multi-year donors, and if the CFC were a foundation, it would be the 10th largest foundation in the US.

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Try it from your supporter’s perspective

Posted on August 6, 2009. Filed under: 1 |

Nancy Schwartz has a good post on her blog,, about “Put Yourself in the Shoes of Your Member/User/Donor — Just for a Minute.”

She’s going through the process of changing e-mail service providers, and has some very salient points about how important the “tiny steps” can be when you’re actually changing processes, or implementing new technology. You need to try things from your donor/client/customer’s point to see if what you think happens, actually does happen.

Here’s the link to the story:


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    Fundraising and Leadership Development through workplace giving, CFC = Combined Federal Campaign


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