I was lucky enough to visit Italy’s Cinque Terre (five fishing villages) in October a few years ago. It was one of the stops on a Rick Steves’ tour through Europe and it continues to be one of my favorite places in the world. I stayed in Monterosso al Mare, the western-most village on this part of the Italian Riviera, and I spent the day at the beach, swimming in the Mediterranean Sea. In Italy. In October. It was a perfect day in a perfect place.
Last week, Northern Italy experienced a heavy rainstorm that resulted in damaging flash floods and mudslides in two of the Cinque Terre villages – Monterosso and Vernazza. The damage to the 2 villages is devastating and some news stories have suggested that the villages may be abandoned if it is too difficult to safely clean and repair the damage. Rick Steves posted about the situation on his travel blog yesterday and told a great story about his connection to the region, personalizing his company’s response to this natural disaster in a region that is heavily supported by tourist travel, including Rick Steves’ tours. It was an extremely effective appeal to the Rick Steves’ tour mailing list to keep the Cinque Terre region in travel plans for the future and possibly to donate to the Italian Red Cross to aid the local businesses and homeowners affected by the flooding.
Rick’s touching post reminded me why I love the Cinque Terre. It had the exact effect that he intended – I want to go back to the Cinque Terre more than ever and I want to support the great local businesses that I enjoyed in the past. It also increased my positive feelings about his tour company because I believe that his company cares about helping this region come out of this difficult situation through continued patronage of the area.
Using an emotional plea can be an extremely effective tool in fundraising or retention of members/volunteers/donors. The key is to be authentic and to illustrate the impact of someone’s donation to your organization through words, emotions, images, etc. People want to know that their donation of time or money is truly a positive force in the lives of children that play soccer through your Club or Association, so show them!
As volunteer organizations, you are surrounded by opportunities to show how your organization has changed the life of children and adults in your community. Read the full Rick Steves blog post here and think about what kind of appeals you could make to potential donors or volunteers about the work your Club or Association does. How do you talk about the benefits your organization brings to your members and the community at large?