You remember the feeling.
The passion and emotion that drove you to join this charity – to start fundraising. You can almost picture yourself in a small music club in San Francisco with Paul Kantner and Marty Balin, throwing ideas around…getting excited as you realise you CAN make a difference.
You see a need. There are people who need your help…like in 1964 when anyone looking for the perfect fusion of rock and folk had to make do with the mindless ‘golf classic’ of Simon & Garfunkel, or the 5k fun run of the Mamas & Papas.
Your mission is reasonably clear. And you survive, albeit struggle, by relying on friends and family. But you struggle with your voice…your message…it all sounds a bit too Signe Anderson-y.
And then one day it hits you…your own personal October 16th 1966.
Your fundraising message has never been clearer…it is the powerful contralto voice of Grace Slick which washes over your supporters like water. It soothes, massages…but stirs. It IS emotion. And it drives people to give.
The pinnacle of your fundraising follows…your Surrealistic Pillow. Yes, there’s the success of your Embryonic Journey challenge event. And every conversation seems to find you asking just the right questions – Don’t you want somebody to love?
But nothing…NOTHING…compares to your own personal White Rabbit…your DM Christmas appeal.
It’s risky, but calculated. It is straight from the heart…but surreal. Your donors can literally feel their minds expanding as they read it – as it oozes through their eyes and skin. They shiver…they’re moved. And as they reach for their cheque book they know…in that instant…what the Dormouse said.
But it’s downhill from there.
You clutch at celebrities. Too many events. Too big. Your voice becomes diluted by self-centred noise. Appeal after appeal goes unnoticed. You get too clever.
And then someone mentions a rebrand. Goodbye Jefferson Airplane, hello Jefferson Starship. You can almost hear a brand consultant spit, “Because you’re moving to the next level!”
And then it happens…
Your sad, sad TV spot….your own personal “We Built This City”.
You think it’s edgy. You think it’s different. You think it’s what people want.
But it’s not you.
“Marconi plays the mamba” – you don’t know what it means but you think it sounds like…something. The truth is it’s meaningless. You’ve lost your voice.
There’s one last call to your loyal supporters. You tell yourself Nothing’s gonna stop you. But you’re wrong. Not even the delightful rom-com Mannequin can save you.
Income declines. Appeals flop. Heads of Fundraising come and go. The Next Generation of consultants cost you money.
You’ll keep going…keep touring…keep helping people. But you’re not what you could have been.
You’ve Jefferson Airplained yourself.