As I watched last Friday’s night of fundraising for Haiti – taking in both Canada’s “Canada for Haiti” and the U.S.’s “Hope for Haiti Now” – I wondered which would be judged a greater success. Who was actually getting it right?
The big question…what “it” was? What was the metric? Was it about entertainment or fundraising? (Or even education/sensitization?) Both fundraisers were billed as concerts, so on face value you might have judged them on their entertainment/concert value merits. If you did that, then you’d think the U.S. fundraising concert/TV show was “better” – and the greater success.
But that wasn’t the point, was it? The point was to raise money for Haiti relief funds. If providing greater entertainment value was going to drive greater donations by individuals, then “entertainment value” would be a relevant metric. Even that premise got thrown out the window looking at the fundraising results when all was said and done. Canada – a country roughly 1/10 the population of the U.S. arguably put on the weaker of the two “fundraising concerts”, yet it ended up raising more money in relation to its population…just under $20M for Canada (before the Federal Government’s 100% matching) vs. $58M+ for the U.S. Interesting…you’d have expected the U.S. to raise closer to $200M based on population. The result confirms that Canadians are more philanthropic than their U.S. counterparts. Even Bill Clinton, in a CBC interview January 28th, gave kudos to Canadians for their generosity vis a vis Haiti, indicating that we were probably the #1 country in terms of donations – in part due to the Federal Government matching pledge. How’s that for a compliment?!?!
Beyond this, here are a few observations I had when I was initially trying to evaluate the two fundraising concerts:
Storytelling: I thought the U.S. show did a better job – that much more “from the heart” – leveraging both individuals affected by the earthquake, and the celebrities who were taking part in the fundraiser as speakers. The U.S. also did a much better job of leveraging individuals, vs. just leaving it to the hosts.
Entertainment/Concert: Again, I thought the U.S. show did a better job. The content overall was much more balanced, and it really felt like a concert. The Canadian one seemed to have very little “music”, but then again, maybe that’s the formula for successful fundraising on TV?
Hosting: Yet again, I thought the U.S. show hosting was better, more because it wasn’t about the host (George Clooney), but about the cause and the other celebrities and individuals involved. George started the show, said his bit, and then got out of the way. The Canadian show seemed to be all about the hosts. It felt like they were “getting in the way” of other individuals having time for storytelling – like in the U.S. show – and time for more music. Again, maybe the better formula for successful fundraising on TV. Interestingly, George Clooney seemed like a more relevant host for this type of an event, with his “philanthropic” credibility emanating from the current and past relationships he’s had with various causes. On the other hand, the three Canadian hosts really didn’t have much – or any – philanthropic credibility or relevancy. They did have “entertainment” credibility and relevancy…and this was an entertainment concert after all, wasn’t it?
Use of Celebrities: You guessed it – I thought the U.S. did a much better job of leveraging the celebrities they’d gotten out to support the cause. The stars weren’t just a backdrop, standing there smiling in a crowd behind the hosts – as in the Canadian concert, in which the viewers probably wondered what all those celebrities were doing just standing around, not singing – generally not speaking – and definitely not doing anything (obvious to the viewer) about helping the fundraising. In the case of the U.S. concert, the role of the celebrities was obvious…there was a purpose to it. They were there first and foremost to take calls and help with the fundraising, and in some instances to speak and be part of the storytelling to get people to donate.
Leverage: This one Canada wins hands-down thanks to the 100% matching by the Federal Government. What more can I say?
Extendibility: This one the U.S. wins with the brilliant move to make the concert available for sale on iTunes and in video format. The iTunes album ended up being the biggest one-day pre-order in the history of iTunes – how big is that?!?! That in part makes up for the lack of government matching. We’ll call it a draw when you combine leverage with extendability!
Feedback: There’s no question in my mind that Canada wins here. When I tried to Google for results the morning after the concert, it was easy to find results for Canada. This reinforced that Canada got that this was about fundraising. The U.S. on the other hand, had absolutely no results at all until much later the night after the concert… until then, all that you could find was about the concert and the entertainers – reinforcing that the Americans really didn’t get it…for them it was about the music, not about the fundraising. No matter how deep I dug, I couldn’t find a single metric for the U.S. The real result/metric – money raised – reinforces this. (Interestingly, I did manage to find out that the goal was to raise $25M, which seemed to be quite low in my opinion – but kudos to them for more than doubling it in the end!)
I’m sure there are other attributes you could evaluate and measure on, but you get the essence.
In the end, the good news is it was a night for fundraising – across North America. I was impressed by the cooperation and coordination…between TV stations in Canada, between the U.S. and Canada (both regarding timing, and the fact that the U.S. hotline could take Canadian calls), and between the U.S. and U.K., where many of the entertainers were broadcasting from.
Yes, I’m Canadian, but I think you’d have to admit that we were the better fundraisers that night – perhaps not in absolute terms, but for sure in relative terms based on population. Agree?
That aside, I have a Top 10 list of reflections that I’d like to share with you, which I think all talk to the success of these concerts:
- that they happened, period
- that they raised money (and awareness) – and lots of it
- that they engaged people – from all walks of life
- that they got people collaborating, within and between countries
- that it got to the core of humanity, showing that it could be good, and could still do good, despite all the bad we see and hear about around the world
- that it showed people cared – and turned that caring into action
- that it showed the power of the collective when it launches into action
- that it showed people canmake a difference, regardless of their contribution – from the piggybank of a young child to the $100,000 donation made by a Canadian caller
- that it showed what can be accomplished if you put your mind to it and just get out there and do it
- that if you ask, you shall receive
What about you? What were your reflections?