I found out today on Twitter that Idealist.org has been experiencing a monthly shortfall of $100,000 for the last 15 months and that they need an immediate infusion of funding to, in their founder's words, "maintain all our services." Now an organization's leader does not make this kind of public plea unless their back is against a wall. (Read the complete appeal from Executive Director Ami Dar, here.) It takes guts and commitment to say the equivalent of we need rescuing. I've known about Idealist.org for years, probably because I fancy myself somewhat of an idealist too. When I first launched Louder Than Words, I registered the agency as a vendor on the site, and over the years I've used it for recruiting. So when I read that they were in trouble, my immediate reaction was "oh no ... not Idealist!" My instinct was to make a small donation and then reach out to my expansive network (via email, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc.) to help make the case for saving Idealist.org. But just as I was about to kick my plan into gear, I had a startling realization ... (dramatic pause to build suspense) ... Ami Dar himself had not built the case for saving Idealist in his email (go back and read it). Although he did a commendable job being transparent about Idealist's financial shortfall, he doesn't actually address what they do; why it's needed; why it must continue.
In all fairness to Ami, his email was intended for Idealist's list of insiders -- those folks who already understand the organization's value proposition. Nevertheless, with the way financial appeals can go viral (earlier they reported a $1,000 gift from Afghanistan), one should never pass up an opportunity to communicate WHY an organization needs to exist.
So there I was, inspired and wanting to help Idealist.org, but without the means (i.e., the messaging, the data points, etc.) to do so. For a moment I considered dropping the whole thing, but then decided that would be lazy. Besides, here was an opportunity to give the organization some constructive feedback in a time of need. Long story short, I called up and spoke with Idealist's Chief-of-Staff (love that title), Lorene Straka. She was so gracious in giving me her time and told me that Ami was indeed working on a more thorough communication about "building the case" for Idealist. Apparently, the momentum generated by his initial appeal letter exceeded their expectations.
What's exciting is that the folks at Idealist asked if I would take a look at the communication they're developing on Monday and provide some constructive feedback. Uh... ABSOLUTLEY! Not only will I gain firsthand insight into this organization's WHY (i.e., WHY they exist, WHY we should fund them), but I will also be able to reconnect with one of the first organizations to blend the power of the Web with the power of doing good. In this crazy world of tweets and blogs, sometimes it pays just to pick up the phone.
By the way, if you don't need to know more and want to donate to Idealist now, visit this page here.