Who is Donald Berwick and why do I know his name?
Donald Berwick is one of five Democrats running for Governor of Massachusetts. He’s not a career politician, and he hasn’t been in the headlines for years like some of the other candidates. I know about him because of a story.
In their book Switch, Chip and Dan Heath illustrate their own model for bringing about change by telling a story about Berwick.
In 2004, 1 out of every 10 patients in the U.S. received defective medical care. For instance, they “did not receive their antibiotics in the specified time.” So, “thousands of patients were dying every year, unnecessarily.” Dr. Donald Berwick set out to change that.
- He proposed that the medical industry save 100,000 lives in 18 months, and he gave them six specific ways to do it.
- He brought in a mom whose little girl had been killed by a medical error. She told the hospitals, “I know that if this campaign had been in place four or five years ago, that Josie would be fine.”
- He made it easy for hospitals to join the campaign (by signing a one-page form) and brought them together in conferences where they could see how others just like them were succeeding.
As a result. by the set date, the campaign had saved 122,300 lives, “the equivalent of throwing a life preserver to every man, woman, and child in Ann Arbor, Michigan.”
Because of this story, when Berwick decided to run for Governor, I knew his name.
There’s an election going on, and your nonprofit organization is one of the candidates.
You’re competing for volunteer time. You’re competing for donor money. Everyone in your community can choose from a slate of good causes and “cast their vote”–for you, for a similar organization, or for a completely different cause that also appeals to them.
You need name recognition to win. No one will vote for you if they don’t know who you are. But how do you make sure people hear about you, and remember your name?
Tell stories that dramatize the problem you’re trying to solve. Tell stories that give people hope that there are solutions. Give them a chance to be the hero of the story by giving you their time or money.
When they choose between you and other organizations, make sure they know your name. Then you’ll have a chance to get their vote.