Same experience in two different trips with two different airlines. The cabin crew at some point launches a fundraising plea for charity. The charities are different but both are children charities. Both airlines have been doing this for a long time. In fact, remembering afterwards, I have seen references in the press to these two initiatives. I knew about them.
I gave my money to one of the two. I did not think much about it. It just happened. I did not think, because in both cases, at the end of the flight, when the plea took place, I was concerned about my notes, my next meting, my iPhone battery and my mundane preoccupations about whether there would be taxis or not in the way out.
Airline number one explained very well the charity intentions. A member of the cabin crew read it. It was monotonous and the narrative was centred on what the airline had done for the charity. Then, a cabin crew member, different from the reader, went along the aisle with an envelop, up and down, with the same panache as when one hour before she was offering a choice of bad coffee or warm tea.
In the second airline, the crew member put it like this: ‘My name is NN. I am one of the 25000 volunteers in X who are raising money for Y so that children in Z can have A,B,C. I personally have raised this amount of money. I am asking you to support this and de facto become one of the volunteers’.
Paraphrasing aside, this was a concrete request from person to person, a personalised plead. I could see her face, hear her voice. She was the same person who then went with the envelope down the aisle. She made me feel part of something. I gave her some money, and I still fiddled with my iPhone and my notes, at the same time.
It was not until a week later that I reflected about these behaviours and how both airlines were equally committed and equally well intentioned, but only one got my money. My decision was not rational. The differences between both were obvious. One had all the ingredients of success: personal, not robotic, not corporate, call to action. Ah! And the number of ‘Thank you’ one could hear around the aisle in airline two was high. I don’t know whether many people gave her money, or she was just saying thank you.
On paper, both ‘processes’ would look pretty similar, almost identical. In practice, their execution (to use corporate jargon) was night and day.
‘Personalisation’ always wins. It seems a no brainer. But we ignore this little rule so many times. ‘Personalization’ is often dismissed by people who think that appeal must be to a cause, a structure, a goal, a vision, and not too much to a particular person’s authority. There is a good point here. A leader is not doing any favour by concentrating all around him or her, instead of the collective leadership capabilities of the organization. However, the other way around does not work well. There is no such a thing as collective without the individual. Wow! This is Nobel Prize statement, I know. Airline one appealed to a collective, corporate leadership. Airline two shared the same corporate and collective aim, but was visibly driven by a Name and Surname.
One of them got my money.