Traffic for my post last weekend about the pineapple upside-down cupcakes went through the roof. And I mean through the roof! I was so excited, I shared the news with my husband Sunday night:
Me: “Traffic for my cupcake parable post is through the roof!”
Al: “That’s because everyone is searching for pineapple upside-down cupcake recipes and landing on your site.”
And he’s right. Even my own friends — people who know that this blog specifically focuses on NPOs — sent me feedback about the cupcakes themselves:
- “Photos look yummy!”
- “Sorry your first batch didn’t turn out.”
- “You’re so brave to make a new recipe the night before a party.” (or dumb, in my opinion)
But I also heard back from friends and colleagues who said the story made them think and reflect on their own processes, perseverance, and reactions to roadblocks and perceived short-comings. Some of these comments came from development professionals with whom I then had great conversations about annual giving and letter campaign procedures (which is what I had in mind when writing it). Some are not in development… and the post started great conversations with them about their own work, their parenting struggles, and so on.
But that’s the great thing about this cupcake story: the lessons are transferable and fairly universal.
But what about all of those poor Google users looking for fool-proof recipes for pineapple upside-down cupcakes who landed on my site? First, I hope they followed this link and tried recipe #1; they really were better in taste (and they may turn out better in the more capable hands of someone who really knows how to bake). Second, those readers may have taken something from the story as well… and I have to trust on this.
This is very much what we do in nonprofits when we do outreach, especially in a public place where the audience is random (like a Google search). Our ultimate goal is to engage members of the community and connect them with the missions of our organizations. But if a person expresses disinterest after learning about your org, don’t assume your effort was a waste. That person may have filed your information away mentally to access in the future when they need it again.
Here is an example: Your organization serves people who are losing their hearing. You are invited to participate in a NPO fair at a major grocery store where you will have an informational table alongside three other organizations. People stop by to learn what your organization does and pick up brochures (and maybe a pen), but the majority of them announce that they don’t need your services… and for the most part act disinterested. Was the day a loss? Yes, if you were hoping to bring in a certain number of donations for the day (cold asks in a public place surrounded by other NPOs? ~ good luck with that). But instead, think of it as a day spent creeping into the consciences of members of the public who otherwise had never heard of you before. One person may remember your organization months later when she is having lunch with her friends and one friend complains of not hearing so well anymore. Another may be in the leadership role of a business of which you ask for an in-kind donation for a major event down the road. Another may remember having your pen in the car when a doctor refers his child to your org for services. That afternoon of outreach was a day of good touches, and chances are you will never know the extent of it. You just have to trust.
I’m still not a food blogger, but here is my absolute favorite cake to make it up to you if you landed here once again looking for cupcake recipes: carrot cake with pineapple. Enjoy!
Post-script: I’m certainly not advocating participating in an event that may not be an effective/efficient use of your time. The description of the grocery store outreach table is only an example.