The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), one of my alma maters, flubbed it last week, sending a message that graded its many online activists. One who contacted The Agitator received a ‘D’ … and wasn’t happy about it.

I’m not sure what interpretation of human nature would have led EDF to think that chastising its activists — “You’ve earned a D” — for not responding sufficiently to alerts would be an effective cultivation strategy.

On the other hand, awarding bad grades did get a response! So many — and so unhappy — that EDF felt compelled almost immediately to issue an apology.

That part EDF got right. They made a (rare) bad judgment. Felt the heat. And apologized — plainly, directly and quickly.

Lesson learned, I hope.

Here’s a softer approach to cleaning your email list of deadwood from NTEN.

Not that Roger is deadwood, exactly … well, you get my point!


P.S. The apology from EDF’s Heather Shelby said, in part: “…the wide variety of energetic responses we received forced our entire Membership Team to take a much closer look at the way we executed on this idea.” Energetic! I can imagine. Whoever at EDF came up with this characterization deserves a raise.

All in all, what this says to me is that someone was trying to think outside the box … and got burned on this one. Not a “cut off her hand” offense. The lesson here is NOT: Don’t take risks or try something bold … even sassy. The lesson is: If it does backfire, then learn, acknowledge, repent and try again.

This article was posted in: Communications, Nonprofit management.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.