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August 1, 2018
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August 22, 2018

All-Aboard for Fundraising!

Wow! I just got back from riding the rails on the Rocky Mountaineer from Banff to Vancouver and boy was I blown away.

It was a two-day train journey from the heights of the Canadian Rockies all the way to the coast. I knew the scenery would be beautiful. And I knew I’d be in great company with my sister and parents. What I didn’t know was how taken I would be with the all-encompassing character of the experience.

The train itself is beautiful, a perfect combination of old fashioned charm and modern comfort.

From the moment we pulled up to the station in Banff, to the time we got into our cab in Vancouver, we were enveloped in a well-thought-out experience delivered by highly trained, enthusiastic people. They know their audience and they cater to it with gusto.

Perhaps what struck me the most was that it wasn’t only the passengers and crew that were caught up in the magic.

Every time we passed people – whether they were standing by the tracks waiting to cross, leaning out the windows of their houses, fishing in the rivers, sunbathing on the beach, or even waterskiing – they all waved at the train. And, I mean they really waved. Like jumped up and down waved. The Canadians really love this train!

The Rocky Mountaineer is not a national rail line. It is a private company. And, somehow it has managed to transcend corporate brand and elevated itself to mythical status. Everyone seems to love it as though it were their own.

This strong sense of organizational character or personality is something we fundraisers strive for. Sure, it helps to attract new donors, but most importantly, it keeps them coming back.

I got to thinking about what I could learn from the Rocky Mountaineer experience that could be translated to our work in nonprofits and it really came down to three things:

  • A relentless commitment to a well-defined brand.
  • Outstanding service from every single person on the team, regardless of position.
  • A real sense of joy and pride in the work.

These have always been important aspects of fundraising, but I feel a renewed sense of their importance after being immersed in them for a couple of days.

If you haven’t thought about the character or personality of your organization lately, or how you deliver a consistent brand experience, perhaps a fresh look can help you keep — or get — your program on track!

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