How the Holiday Appeal could have gone better

February 17, 2010

We had what we thought was a rather compelling video: a compilation of photos of survivors from our recent conference holding up the year of their first holidays with cancer. It made me sad when I watched it (my girlfriend and sister, too).

At Young Adult Cancer Canada, we’ve a tendency to leap before we look. The advantage being we tend to learn pretty quickly, and, we will hopefully end up with some significant experience and an unstoppable team. And that’s true of the recent Holiday Appeal, so, here’s the missteps that may have contributed to it not reaching its full potential, from where I sit.

1) Wrong message, wrong timing.

We had planned to send out two messages about the appeal with our handy email software, Mailchimp. One to the full list with the goal of getting their eyeballs behind the video, and one to our Survivors in Action (SIA) group to get them to pass the word on to their networks. They’d go out one after the other the morning of the 24, just before people woke up and checked their inbox for one last time before the holidays.

In what I’ll attribute to a sleep deprived state, I managed to royally mix it up: I sent the SIA message to the full list at 8:30 pm on December 23. Then, hesitated on sending the full message until noon on December 24, after most people had headed home from their offices to their families.


2) Unable to donate.

Our online donation software is a bit interesting to design for. In copying the HTML to make it look great, I managed to hide the “confirm” button on the second donation page.

So, if you donated right after the first message, it didn’t actually get through. The confirmation button was not visible on the page, so, it couldn’t be clicked on.


3) Unable to see the video.

I didn’t do the due diligence in testing the page to death in every browser combination. It looked great in Chrome 4 on my Mac. But less so on the many versions of Internet Explorer. In fact, for a significant portion of the audience you couldn’t even watch the video. The super emotional one.


4) Not using our brand equity.

In order to take full advantage of the limitations of our fundraising software, I recommended that we put together a unique design for the Holiday appeal. And, while it looked ok, it looked nothing like Young Adult Cancer Canada, and didn’t connect fully with the emotional video.


The Holiday Appeal could have decidedly gone better. But, there’s more than a few lessons I picked up along the way. That’s something that we’ve truly taken to heart, particularly with the recently launched Shave for the Brave website. (Yeah, I know it looks different than the YACC site, but, it’s for good reason this time: I promise.)

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