Last Thursday night, in one of the most electrifying moments of the Democratic National Convention, Khzir Khan, father of a Muslim U.S. soldier killed in combat, challenged Donald Trump by saying: “Have you even read the United States Constitution?” and then pulled his copy from his pocket, offering to send it to The Donald. http://www.cnn.com/videos/politics/2016/07/29/dnc-convention-khizr-khan-father-of-us-muslim-soldier-entire-speech-sot.cnn
Less than 24 hours later, the ACLU launched a promotion giving away free pocket constitutions until election day in November – a very smart, low cost new member acquisition strategy. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/aclu-pocket-constitution_us_579e6a6fe4b08a8e8b5e6f45
Every non-profit should look at this move by the ACLU and ask themselves three questions:
- Do We Really Know Our Own Brand? The ACLU is so clear on their brand and what they stand for that they could see that moment during the convention and realize it was about them – their brand IS the constitution. How many non-profits could do the same? Sadly, not many.
- Are We Open to Good Ideas? I don’t know for certain, but I would bet that the idea to do the free pocket constitution promotion didn’t start at the top, but started somewhere in the middle of the organization, where most good ideas come from. The ACLU’s culture apparently nurtures innovation, which also makes them rare. Does yours?
- How Quickly Do We Make Decisions? Finally, to turn an idea around and be in the market in less than 24 hours requires very clear decision making authority dispersed throughout the organization. Innovation often dies on the rocks of consensus. But empowered decision makers can seize opportunities. How quickly can your organization turn around a big idea?
On the back end, the ACLU had the infrastructure to take advantage of this. Promote through social media, fulfill through an online store, and then seamlessly integrate acquired names into a communications program. (I’ve already started receiving well-crafted emails.)
When your moment comes, and you’re suddenly thrust into the spotlight, will you be able to seize the opportunity? If not, then get to work now. Before it’s too late.