Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lesson from Vodafone

It's not often I'll draw on something a telecommunications provider has done to inspire fundraising greatness. I'm often the first one to scorn at my phone company.

But I make an exception here.

Last night I got this email from the CEO at Vodafone.

Pretty candid. Quite gutsy. He even put his photo on here so we could visualize him apologizing. The only thing he could have done to expose himself more is done this via a video clip (but then the reach would likely have been lower).

I like the way that Nigel makes no bones about the fact that they haven't been up to scratch. He doesn't try and make excuses, simply tells it as it is.

"The simple answer is that we’ve been growing fast, and when problems came, we responded too slowly. "

He could have given us some garbled response tinged with big words that would have left us flummoxed but he didn't. Merely admitted they tried to run before they crawl.

I love the rawness of this. It reminds me of a client a few years back who had a major internal meltdown days after an appeal lodging. Database crashed, staff shortages, the works.

And what did they do?

Something similar to Nigel Dews. Wrote to their donors, explained what happened and asked for a little patience as it may take longer to get back and thank them if they had indeed already sent a gift.

What happened?

Gifts flowed in. To the apology letter. It wasn't the point, nor the intention. But it proved that showing their cards, opening themselves up, was absolutely the right thing to do.

Now if this client had done this again, and if Vodafone doesn't deliver, then people will walk.

But right now, it's hats off to Nigel Dews and the Vodafone gang. Never thought I'd say that.



Vic Weekes said...

Good post Jonathan. As you say, donors, as well as customers expect the truth. With the proposed changes to a single governing body in Australia it will be interesting to see how transparent charities become. A culture change for some, I suspect.

Tara Lepp said...

It is great when organizations acknowledge when mistakes are made, rather than trying to hide from them and hope no one gets really upset. I recall receiving a voice broadcast from Amnesty International years ago apologizing for an error they had made with their monthly donors. I have been a long time monthly donor to Amnesty and it was nice to receive this call. I actually hadn't noticed that a mistake had been made but it was still nice to receive that call. I'm sure the donors who had noticed the mistake really appreciated the call as well. We are all human and we do make mistakes sometimes. We just need to remember to own up to them and learn from them and not make the same mistake twice.

Jonathon Grapsas said...

Hi Guys

Thanks for the feedback and examples. You may be interested in this from Greenpeace UK, which a friend sent me overnight.

Seems everyones in the mood to say sorry at the moment. :)


Mon said...


He actually issued a video with apology as well. Here is the link to SMH article with the video embedded:

Good watch

Jonathon Grapsas said...

Hi there

Thanks for sharing, I hadnt seen the video. Nice work.