Outreach and trusting in good touches

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:English: A tin with large divets in it, for ma...

  • “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.

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Pineapple upside-down cupcake REDUX

I was reminded by a friend this morning that there is a part two to the cupcake parable:

Everyone loved both versions of the cupcakes, some even saying that the first super-messy, hard-to-eat batch tasted better than the second, prettier batch.


What to take out of this, besides the reminder to research, contemplate, come up with work-arounds, deal with issues as they come up, consider earlier attempts and improve upon them, go back to the books and incorporate “classic” strategies, and don’t give up and opt for letting someone else do your job for you? The new lesson is that maybe the first attempt was not the failure you think it was, no matter how frustrated you were with the process or how you personally saw the resulting product.

In other news, I’m enjoying reading Tom Ahern’s newsletter/blog Ahern Communications, Ink, especially this post and this one. Tom specializes in cupcakes.

Pineapple upside-down cupcakes: a parable

We threw a birthday luau for a close friend today, and one of my responsibilities was to make pineapple upside-down cupcakes — her favorite Hawaiian dessert. I was happy to oblige.

I spent at least a week thinking about pineapple upside-down cupcakes. I had never made them before. In fact, I’m pretty sure I had never eaten one before (the big version, either). So I poked around in the world’s largest cookbook (Google) and found two recipes that were popular in the blogosphere: one from scratch and one using a box of cake mix as the base. Naturally, because I am an aspiring foodie, I chose to make the scratch recipe.

I swear, those cupcakes were cursed. First, a giant jar of maraschino cherries jumped to its death in the parking lot right outside the doors of Cash ‘n Carry. Then, it was discovered that I bought a can of pineapple chunks and not the crushed pineapple called for in the recipe. No big deal, except that my husband was standing next to me when I made the discovery, grabbed them from me, and pureed the heck out of them with our hand mixer before I could stop him. It was sweet of him to try to help, but he turned the pineapple chunks into pineapple baby food (try draining that!). Can you believe that after the pineapple baby food incident, I then discovered that our teenager went through a dozen eggs in less than 24 hours… and I didn’t have the six eggs I needed? So the score thus far is: one jar of dead cherries (but kindly replaced by the store), 16 ounces of pineapple baby food, and a midnight run to Safeway for eggs. Once the eggs are mixed into the batter, these cupcakes should be smooth sailing…


These cupcakes were an absolute mess! They rose too far above the pan and melded together, they were stuck to the inside of the pan, and they seemed to look much more “cakey” than the photo in the recipe looked. It was already after 1:00 am at this point, so I decided to throw in the towel and go to bed. I would have to buy a store-made cake on the way to the party, and chances are the cake would NOT be pineapple (we are in Seattle, after all).

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