A Lion’s Lesson in the Serengeti

At the beginning of June I had a once in a lifetime opportunity to travel to Kenya and Tanzania for an African Safari. While I was preparing for my trip I had a few expectations. My number one expectation was to see some wildlife, but at a distance. I came prepared with my binoculars and 16x zoom point-and-shoot camera. I figured I would be gazing at giraffes and elephants from at least a 100 yards. I might even get lucky enough to see a lion through my binoculars. But man- did my experience completely exceed my expectations!

My greatest shock came during the game drives in the Masai Mara and Serengeti national parks. Not only did I see some wildlife, I could have reached out of the window of my jeep and touched them. At one point there were probably 75+ safari jeeps surrounding a male lion and two lionesses as they hunted a herd of buffalo. The male lion walked right up next to our jeep and even itched is head on the bumper of the jeep in front of us. They didn’t even flinch at the fact that we were surrounding them. All the animals in the parks were the same; they didn’t even notice we were there. We sat in the middle of a herd of wildebeest and watch a family of hyenas eat a buffalo for breakfast. Safari jeeps and gawking humans have been come the “norm” for these animals. They were completely oblivious to our presence.

Since my return from the Serengeti, the lions’ oblivion has me thinking about what has become the “norm” for your organization. What have your participants and donors overlooked because it’s always there? Do you send emails with the same links and similar content every time? Has anything on your website changed recently?

Get your lions roaring by keeping your website and email content fresh using these simple steps:

  1. Quality over quantity. Don’t just blog or update your website because you feel like you have to change or add something. Keep it interesting so donors engage with the content and aren’t overlooking material that has no value to them. You have about 5 seconds to engage them in the content so keep it simple and use headlines to spark their interest. A picture says a thousand words, use images to tell your story.
  2. Keep it up-to-date. Remove outdated content right away. Even if you don’t know the date or location of your next event, take down the old one and replace it with some teaser text for upcoming events.
  3. Change it up! Make simple changes like changing the color or location of your donate button. Change the subject line of your monthly newsletter. People recognize links so instead of always saying “click here…” or “follow this link…”, try words that call them to action. Examples: Instead of “Click here to share your story” try “Inspire others with your story” or instead of “Follow this link to learn more about our new exercise program” try “Get up and move with our new exercise program”.
  4. Know your audience. What keywords are people searching for? What websites are driving traffic to yours? Add content related to these sites and searches.
  5. Include your audience in the conversations. Use social media, polls and surveys to get your audience engaged in decisions you make with your website and programs. I just saw a great example of this on a facebook page. The organization posted two images and had their audience make the choice of which image would be their cover photo for the month. It’s simple but it’s engaging their audience in decisions they are making.
  6. Think outside the box. Take a new approach to how you preset your mission or asks. This YouTube video from Dr. Mike Evans is a perfect example of thinking outside the box. He answers the old question “what is the single best thing we can do for our health” in a completely new way. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUaInS6HIGo