By Sean Cox of Portland, Oregon. Sean describes himself as a Social Change Agent.
I was at the Countdown event here in Portland last Friday night and I'll admit - I am fired up. It was pretty amazing to be in line with thousands of people who all share a common interest in making the world better and an eagerness to get involved. I was astonished by the efficiency of the stantionless switch backs - no pushing, no shoving, thousands of people working together, moving in a common direction.
I was blown away by Barack in person. But candidates can talk a good talk, and telling me what I want to hear is a good way to get me fired up, but is it real? Is it just spin?
The thing that pushed it over the edge for me - I had the genuine sense that Barack Obama doesn't want to run for President, he is compelled to, he has to run for President. The same way Yo Yo Ma has to play the cello, Steve Jobs has to innovate, Tiger has to swing his club. Obama struck me as someone who has to lead if he sees a problem.
I came home, set up a page on my.barackobama.com and started thinking about what I could do to make a difference.
At about 3pm on Monday I made a $10 donation through my web page and was going to have it as a recurring donation. Then I'd challenge my family and friends to join me - but the recurring donation field wasn't enabled. I work in nonprofit fundraising - plus I did okay in math - so I know that one $10 donation is less than 12 $10 donations...and since the goal of fundraising is to get more...having a recurring donation option is a must do.
So I sent an email to the campaign - fat chance that will be read right, but I felt like I needed to do my part?
Boy was I wrong!
My phone rang at 9am the next day. I don't typically get phone calls from the 312 area code so I was a little perplexed at who would be calling me. Turns out it was a staffer at the Barack Obama campaign headquarters in Chicago.
A phone call, from a Presidential Campaign. I saved the number and now I chuckle a bit that my screen saver is a picture of me shaking Obama's hand at the event and that I've got his number on cell.
The staffer thanked me for my donation (it was $10!!), let me know that I could go to the main web page and make the recurring donation from there and that he was going to pass my suggest up the chain to get the feature enabled on the other pages. He gave me a couple of suggestions on what types of appeals have worked the best and a couple of lessons they have learned on the campaign trail. It was amazing. Not so much the advice, but that the campaign had prioritized connecting with supporters.
A phone call. When I sent a note to the Edwards campaign that I thought that all of the messages from John's mom, wife, kids, came off a little disingenuous because I know that they are written by a staffer...I didn't even get a confirmation that my email had been received.
To me - this action tells me more about Obama than any of the passionate words he shared while he was in Portland. It tells me that he really does care about what Americans have to say, and that he really does think that we can help make this country a better place.It tells me that Barack is walking the talk. He is surrounding him with people who share his commitment to valuing the American people.
Otherwise - why would Josh from the campaign have been tasked with calling a guy in Oregon who just made a suggestion, and a $10 donation. I'm fired up, I'm ready to go.