Pomp, circumstance, or access

The strangest thing happened to me the other day. I wasn’t feeling well and I emailed my doctor early in the morning.






Not just once, but twice, all in less than an hour.

It got me thinking about other places where there are mismatches between what we really want (a responsive doctor who we can occasionally hear from without making an appointment) and what we get.

If you were an alien visiting from another planet, sent to understand the relationship between funders and social sector organizations, what would you tell your superiors on the Mother Ship? You’d likely explain that people who give away their hard-earned money are mostly interested in fancy meals in expensive settings, supplemented by the occasional, sorta boring glossy report.

We throw resources at the wrong solution because it is safe: no one will get fired for putting on next years’ Gala that raises $75,000 more than this year’s, or for publishing an annual report that is good enough and mostly looks like everyone else’s.

So, you can keep playing that game, and come in neither last nor first.

Or you can decide to win at a completely different offering.

It’s the offer of permeability. The offer of the quick response. The offer that makes available useful and relevant access to your team that’s doing the work. The offer to open up the gritty, imperfect details, and the hard-earned insight and experience: things that are easy for you to share but priceless for the person on the other end of the line.

My doctor’s day is more productive when he spends more time with more people who can only be helped by a visit to his office. My day is better when I have a first-line plan of action right away, not after four hours waiting at urgent care or a week waiting for an appointment.

Providing the right kind of access is better for everyone.

2 thoughts on “Pomp, circumstance, or access

  1. I know as a very small donor, I’d rather see the money spent on expensive glossy reports and even fancy restaurants go to the cause I’m supporting rather than to schmoozing other donors. I wish more big donors thought that way, too. I’d rather receive a quick email, like the Gates Foundation emails about malaria in Africa and what’s being done about the mosquito problem, etc. I can read as much as I want, I can read it later, I don’t have to get dressed up, I can quickly donate some money, or I can hop on a plane and go to Africa and distribute mosquito nets. The level of participation is then up to me. I think the world is moving in that direction. Does anyone need to recycle one more glossy report?

  2. This is the sample of what it takes to sustain someone trying to make a difference in the world. I love reading your blog! You are the best!

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