Can Livestrong Survive?

When the news about the USADA ban came out about Lance Armstrong, I posted this “Can Livestrong Live on” post. At the time I wondered if the brand could live on, in the wake of the scandal, and suggested yes it can.

In light of the 1,000 page novel that USADA released this week where they said that he was a “serial” cheat who led “the most sophisticated, professionalised and successful doping programme that sport has ever seen”. It’s probably pertinent to re-visit the question and ask can the charity survive?

In short, I believe Yes they can. But…they need to do a few things:

  1. Distance themselves from Lance Armstrong.  I am not suggesting they dump Armstrong, but they would be well advised to distance themselves from him. What do I mean? Well I wouldn’t use him for media events, don’t feature him on the site, get a new chairman. They cannot deny their foundations, and nor should they, but they now need to move on and be an organisation that is about cancer survivors and not Lance Armstrong Cancer Survivor
  2. Be clear on their mission. When you go on their site the What We Do statement is “We look at the experiences of the cancer community, find problems and develop solutions. Then we roll them out to help more people in more situations.”. I don’t actually know what this really means, it sounds like research, but Livestrong don’t do or fund research. So they need to really say who they are and what they do. To be fair their homepage does break down where they spend their money, but things like grants are vague (it sounds like research)
  3. Be squeaky clean: Livestrong.com is a for profit website that was sold by the charity. A lot of people (including me) end up here looking for information when there really is none. These kind of activities need to stop as the charity comes under scrutiny. Bill Gifford wrote this piece in Outside about the charity in January where he looks at how what they do and how they spend their money.  In parts he focuses on a lot of the wrong things (CEO salary) but he does raise some interesting points. For the charity to survive now they need to be squeaky clean (and I am not suggesting they are not) as they come under increasing scrutiny
  4. Shore up their partners: Livestrong need to shore up their own corporate partners and ensure they are supporting the cause and not Lance Armstrong. So, for example, the Nike sponsorship is of Lance Armstrong and Livestrong. The foundation now need to make a distinction between the two and ensure that Nike, even if they decide to continue to support Lance, differentiate their support.
  5. Say something: So far Livestrong has said nothing. This cannot last. They are celebrating 15 years, so they need to focus on that, but they need to say something. While Armstrong says he is innocent, this will be a challenge for them, but with the best lawyers and comms people around, surely they can script something that says how disappointed they are but how focussed they are on cancer survivors. They need to talk to their advocates and get their support shored up too.
  6. Get new heroes: Lance is no longer a hero. So they need to re-align themselves with new heroes, new survivors. Ordinary people, like you and me (they do some of this already, but they need to do more)
  7. Dont go on a marketing blitz: I actually think a brand positioning piece, with a massive media spend, would be a bad move for them now, so I hope they hold off on the temptation
  8. Armstrong steps down: Ideally Armstrong should step down. If he truly wants his legacy to be his work in cancer, then he should move aside now and allow the organisation survive and grow without him.
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Man Therapy

Men’s mental health is a tricky one to approach and tricky to get right. I think this site has done a great job making a place that you would look around and perhaps come across information that is useful too. I really like most of the tone of the site, I think its really accessible and its well designed. The mission of the site is:

Working aged men (25-54 years old) account for the largest number of suicide deaths in Colorado. These men are also the least likely to receive any kind of support. They don’t talk about it with their friends. They don’t share with their family. And they sure as heck don’t seek professional treatment. They are the victims of problematic thinking that says mental health disorders are unmanly signs of weakness. And I, Dr. Rich Mahogany, am dedicated to changing that.

 Part of a multi-agency effort, including the Colorado Office of Suicide Prevention, Carson J Spencer Foundation and Cactus, Man Therapy™ is giving men a resource they desperately need. A resource to help them with any problem that life sends their way, something to set them straight on the realities of suicide and mental health, and in the end, a tool to help put a stop to the suicide deaths of so many of our men.

 

What do you think?

 

Money Words (guest post)

By Perry Esler, Childrens Miracle Network Hospitals:

Tell a story – give the number. That’s the simple, best-practise, message we share with hundreds of radio people every year at stations across North America. It works. $450M raised since 1998 for our partner children’s hospitals. Great stories with a great pitch means lots of calls to the donor hot line.

Now there’s research that shows we might be able to increase pledges off those calls by how we greet the donor. Philanthropic psychologist Jen Shang has released a study that shows five words tied to moral qualities prompt larger donations.

Caring

Friendly

Kind

Compassionate

Helpful

The Indiana University Professor tested her theory at an appeal of public radio station WFIU in Bloomington, Indiana. The phone volunteers answered by thanking the caller and then they would randomly pick two of the five words to describe the caller. It sounded something like this: ‘Thanks for calling. You’re a caring and compassionate donor.’ In the end female donors gave, on average, 10% more.  By contrast the use of these adjectives had no impact on men.  Suffice to say since most donors to our radiothons are women this may be worth a try.

Many events still don’t script their phone volunteers, but this study should be enough to convince you otherwise.

Here is a recent interview we at Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals conducted with Professor Shang about the study.  It concludes that a focus on the connection between moral identity and an individuals cause might create a higher ROI than focusing solely on the cause

Click here to listen to an interview Perry did with Prof. Shang.
Follow Perry on twitter here 

Energizer Toy Rescue

This is a nice campaign by Energizer in Australia, not a huge response to it yet though. What do you think?

Promoting Philanthropy in Ireland

I saw yesterday that the Ireland Funds have opened their Grants rounds. One of the categories that they will accept requests under is “Promoting Philanthropy in Ireland”. A few years ago, working with Niall O’Sullivan, we got a group of fundraisers in Ireland to attend a meeting that  talked about promoting Philanthropy. We pulled together a “thoughts” document and shared it with the Board of Philanthropy Ireland. I believe that there is more movement in this space again, which is great to hear.

But there was one line of thinking from that day that I have been keen to progress. My belief is that one of the ways (and not the only one)  of creating a culture of Philanthropy in Ireland is to think long term and about the next generation. I had heard about a campaign in the US that encouraged children to not just save their pocket money but to also spend some of it and share (donate) another portion.

I don’t know who runs it, or even if it is run by anyone, but I want to adapt it and bring it to life in Ireland.

I sincerely believe that a “Spend, Save, Share” movement, targeted at children in junior school (with a plan to grow with them as they develop) would be a massive step in promoting philanthropy in Ireland. Imagine, if, from a young age children think about money differently. They think about saving (that’s good right) but they also know that its ok to spend some too. Just as importantly though, they start to think about what some of that money could do for others? So they would start to think about sharing. I firmly believe that this would be the start of a mindset change, which would need to be supported by a full programme that, as I said, develops as the child develops, which could be incredibly powerful and game changing for the future of philanthropy.

This isn’t about the amount, so fundraisers should put the calculators away. This is about the action. It’s about creating a movement that changes how we think about philanthropy. It’s a step towards the idea of planned giving. Ireland is a generous nation, we all know that. But we aren’t a nation that really plans or thinks about its giving. I believe that a programme like this would create a culture where we start to think in a planned way.

So why am I telling you this?

Well I want charities to get on board with me. I would love to take this on, but I need charities to buy into it. Maybe organisations like Fundraising Ireland, Philanthropy Ireland, ICTRG, The Wheel could row in behind it too? Maybe even some financial institutions too!

We could apply to the Ireland Funds for seed funding and then look at where else we could get support. This is clearly in the ideas stage. But there is an idea here.

If you think it’s a good one and think your organisation would like to get behind something like this, let me know, drop me an email, tweet me, call me, whatever, just get in touch. We will then set something up with everyone who thinks it’s a good idea and do something about it.

I believe in this and would love to bring it to life. But I need you.

 

Pitching a Company on cause partnership

Katya Andresen posted on her blog today with tips on how to pitch to a company on a cause partnership. I think her first point is so crucial, if you can’t show a business case for the partnership, its just not going to happen.

I think the biggest problem most causes have however go beyond Katya’s 6 tips. In my mind its getting in the door. Getting attention.

I think if you are looking to create a partnership with a company you need to start thinking like them. This is so hard if you havent worked in that industry or sector, because you have no real insight into what the day to day problems are for the people you are targetting.

So how do you get around this? Well if I knew all the answers I would be minted, right? But from some recent work I have been involved in, these three things stand out to me.

  • First off, talk to people in the sector. Spend time getting that insight. This may seem like a lot of work, but if you understand the issues, then you can start to get your foot in the door. Because all of a sudden, just maybe, you could provide a solution to their business problems.
  • Secondly, tink about how you will get attention. So many of the people you are trying to get hold of are busy. They meet about meetings, their diaries aren’t their own. So what is the thing that, in a day where they just about get time to go to the toilet, will make them stop and listen/watch/read?
  • Finally, what is it that you are offering that is different. That can help them stand out from the crowd. That will continue to place them top of mind for consumers. What is it that you are offering that is cutting edge, that is using technology, that is possibly going to win them awards?
What do you think?