This past week Jason’s Blog broke.
The specifics don’t matter much (mostly because, while I’m comfortable with technology, I’m definitely not a techie and I still don’t fully understand what happened). Just that the site went down, it was not a simple issue, and I didn’t know how to fix it. So, it was time to do everyone’s favorite activity:
Call help desks and wait on hold.
Over the course of 4 days of trying to fix my site, I Googled, I read, and I called. And I called again. I talked with my hosting service help desk at all hours of the day and night and interacted with at least 5 different tech support specialists.
I fear how depressing the number might be so I won’t even attempt to count up the hours I spent either on hold or attempting to explain what was happening with my website to the tech support folks who were asking me questions using words and acronyms far beyond my understanding. All to no avail.
Yesterday afternoon, I called again. But, this time, I talked to Tyler.
Tyler started by using all the technical, “php file, mySQL” type language that remains somewhat foreign to me. Of course, I wasn’t able to participate much or answer his questions in a helpful way.
So, he then asked, “have you talked with your IT or website team yet about this?”
I said, slowly but immediately, “I AM my IT and website team.” I then, took, the opportunity to tell him my story and what I needed.
“I’m a guy who blogs. I write and, then, I hit the “publish” button on my site. I’ve been doing this for years and I really enjoy it. But I’m not technologically-savvy enough to understand the code that drives all of back-end functions. I just write and hit “publish.” Can you get me back to writing and publishing?”
At that point, Tyler paused and said, “ok. I got it. I understand now.”
For the first time since my site went haywire, I felt like there was hope for a fix.
He then began talking to me like a regular person. No more in-depth tech talk. He asked questions about what I was doing when the site broke, what I had been doing with the site recently, and other questions about how I use the site. Questions I understood and could answer. I was feeling much better now.
Then he said, “I can get you back up and running, but it will take some time. Just stay on the line with me.”
And, 45 minutes later, my site was functional again.
I am so thankful Tyler answered my call. Because he realized what I was really seeking. I didn’t need someone to explain or ask questions about the technical aspects of the site. I needed someone to understand how I use the site and to help get me back to writing and publishing.
My experience with Tyler got me thinking about how we sometimes engage donors.
I’m not sure that asking donors questions like, “what impact would you like to make through your giving?” or, “what charitable legacy would you like to leave?” are the most helpful. I say this because, just like the technical aspects of my website that I never think about, I’m not sure how many people walk around thinking about, “their impact through giving,” or “their philanthropic legacy.”
Instead, I think it far more helpful to ask more basic questions like, “why is our institution important to you?” and, “why do you give to our institution?”
It’s more fundamental questions like these that truly probe core donor motivations. It allows donors to reflect on what really matters to them. And, importantly, these are the types of questions that donors can answer!
When we ask these types of questions and actively listen to a donor’s response, we can respond just like Tyler did to me,
“Ok, got it. I understand now.”
And everyone appreciates the feeling of being understood.