In this blog, please allow me, if you will, to take you back to last millennium…
…only just, though. It’s something that happened in early 1999. Film fans were particularly excited about the forthcoming release of the new Star Wars film (The Phantom Menace) after a relatively lengthy 16 year gap from the previous one. There was quite a buzz. You may remember it.
Anyway, against this backdrop of hype and expectation, and before it had come out, I went to the cinema to see a different film. But before it came on, I watched this trailer:
It tickled me at the time, and has stuck in my memory.
Not to ruin the joke, but the viewer would have been  expecting it to be a trailer for the Star Wars film, and it begins very much like that… only for Dr Evil from the Austin Powers films to spin round in his chair, and ask “were you expecting someone else?”
Dear Reader, I know you well enough by now to realise that you’re beginning to wonder how I’ll link this tale back to the charity sector. I can, though, honest.
Watch the trailer, and listen out for the words of the deep-voiced voice-over man.
If you see only one movie this summer, see… Star Wars
But, if you see TWO movies, see… Austin Powers!
The gag – that the promoters have realised their film isn’t the must-see event of the year, but recognise we may go to the cinema more than once anyway – is particularly pertinent to the charity sector.
Think about legacy giving. A charitable bequest will on average go to 3.2 organisations. And in their lifetime giving, donors don’t tend to support only one organisation.
Throughout my career, I’ve heard charity fundraisers, and certainly other charity staff, say “Ours isn’t a sexy cause. We can’t compete with [insert name of famous charity here].” Sound familiar?
Now I’m not saying we shouldn’t try and be the best we can be. Clearly we should. We want to be at the top of the giving list of our supporters, of course we do. And we need to give our supporters love and listen to them to get there.
But to all the naysayers out there, I say this: Think of that trailer voiceover. And think of the kookiness of the Austin Powers approach. What makes your charity unique? What gives it that edge, that personality?
You may not supplant the household name charity from your supporters’ giving lists, but you don’t necessarily have to.
Because there’s no reason you can’t join them if they support more than one organisation. Which, as Austin Powers might say,  would be completely… groovy, baby!
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This blog was first published by 3rd Sector Mission Control