If you've used Wikipedia recently, you probably realized that it's that time of year again.
You know. Donation time.
One recent message, appearing at the top of any given Wikipedia page, read like this:
"Dear readers, Time is running out in 2016 to help Wikipedia. To protect our independence, we will never run ads. We're sustained by donations averaging about $15. Only a tiny portion of our readers give. If everyone reading this right now gave $3, our fundraiser would be done within an hour. Think of it like buying a scoop of your favorite ice cream, only much healthier. And your donation supports the only non-profit on the list of the world's top ten most visited websites. That's pretty sweet. Please take one minute to keep Wikipedia online and growing. Thank you."
Admittedly, that petition is pretty darn good.
It appeals to our intellect and sense of fairness, by illustrating how you and I can play a small role and keep Wikipedia going for another year. (Not to mention, that ice cream comparison is great.)
But it's nothing compared to the email I just received.
Emotional Intelligence at Its Finest
You see, I donated to the Wikimedia foundation last year.
The message worked because I'm on Wikipedia fairly often. I used it just a few hours ago to help my son, who wanted to know if there was a carnivorous dinosaur larger than Tyrannosaurus Rex. (Turns out, the answer is maybe--If you have your own five-year-old at home, you might want to check this out.)
So, it felt good to give a little bit back.
But this year, I decided I wasn't going to donate. It wasn't a well thought-out decision; it was more like: "Oh, they're soliciting again. Well, I donated last year...I'll skip this year and donate again next year."
I decided in about five seconds, and didn't give it a second thought.
But earlier today, I received an email with the following subject line:
People warned me I'd regret it, Justin
Those seven, powerful words introduced the following email:
A year ago, you donated [$ X] to keep Wikipedia online for hundreds of millions of readers. I'm surprised by and deeply grateful for your continued support. We need your help again this year.
I ask you, humbly: please renew your donation today.
When I made Wikipedia a non-profit, people warned me I'd regret it. And here we are, over a decade later, and it's still the only top ten website that's run by a non-profit and a community of passionate volunteers.
Has it crossed my mind how much money we could have made if we were a traditional website? Sure. But I believe people wouldn't feel motivated to create content for Wikipedia, and you wouldn't trust it, if we were in this for our own benefit. Wikipedia isn't mine, it's for everyone.
If all our past donors gave again today, our fundraiser would be over within an hour. We're not there yet. Please help us end the fundraiser and improve Wikipedia.
You may have heard people say that in today's online media environment, facts have become subjective. At Wikipedia, we reject that idea. When you find yourself in despair about the state of the world, remember: Wikipedia is one of the most popular websites on the planet. And that's because at the end of the day, people share a common thirst for high-quality, neutral information. We are proud to offer a place where people of all backgrounds and ideologies can come to think, learn, and find neutral ground together.
We are sustained by donations from our readers. Now is the time we ask. If Wikipedia is useful to you, please take one minute to keep it online, ad-free, and growing another year.
Jimmy, I'm sorry. I just didn't realize...I mean, I didn't think about...
I don't know what to say.
This email is so brilliantly crafted, so well written. Whoever composed it definitely used emotional intelligence--the ability to identify emotions, to recognize the powerful effects of those emotions, and to use that information to inform and guide behavior. Admittedly, I'm a lot more attuned to the quality--my forthcoming book, EQ, Applied, is a practical approach that illustrates just how EQ works--and doesn't work--in the real world.
This email effectively used emotion to inspire me to give a second thought--to reconsider a decision I had already made.
In fact, it changed my mind.
So, thanks Wikipedia team--for all the work you do in providing information across the globe, every day.
And thanks for the lesson in emotional intelligence, too.