When I walk into the office Thursday morning, Rachel is at her desk, her printer spitting out papers. The I Want You Dead Girls are loitering in the boardroom.
“We starting another campaign already?” I ask.
We used to do all our fundraising through another company, who skimmed a good deal of the proceeds. Lucy, in a fit of fiscal responsibility, had decided to bring the fundraising onsite and had hired Dawn-Marie and Dae-Glo, two surly, heavily eye-linered twenty-something twins. Their parents, I thought, must have been either scandalously young when they were born, or much older and drug-addled to name them that.
Rachel had informed me that, in fact, third-party fundraising goes against the rules and Lucy had had to bring it in house or risk losing Blankets for Botswana’s non-profit status. And her job, corner office and bragging rights to being the Head of an International Charity.
I don’t know where she found Dawn-Marie and Dae-Glo, who not only work the phone campaigns but are sometimes commissioned to go out canvassing the public. Face to face. I cannot believe she hired them. If I answered the door to one of them, I’d think I was being mugged. Rachel’s theory is that she owed someone a favor. Big time.
“Lucy’s called a meeting,” Rachel says. “She’s hired some big marketing guru and wants us all to meet him.”
Did I miss the memo? I’m usually pretty on top of things…
“Did I miss the memo?”
“Nope. She phoned me this morning at 6:30 to tell me about it.”
“There’s no overtime for work I do at home.”
“There’s no overtime.”
The I Want You Dead Girls are on the move. I scuttle to my office.
“Everyone, this is Graham Davis,” Lucy says, breathlessly. “Graham has graciously agreed to come in and help us with our Concept (you could hear the capitalization). He’s worked for several Major Corporations, so we’re really fortunate to have him here.”
Graham smiles modestly. “I’ve been so lucky in my work,” he explains. “It’s time to give back. Helping you,” he smiles at Lucy, “allows me to do just that.”
Lucy sighs happily. Rachel rolls her eyes.
We spend the next hour discussing our Concept, including the complete history of our Tag Line, which doesn’t shine a very bright light on my abilities.
“Tell Graham about our Tag Line, Ann,” Lucy turns to me with her most winning smile.
“You know,” she flashes a look at Graham. “‘Giving Warmth to Those Who Need It Most’“.
“Oh. Right, right.” I’ve never heard it called a Tag Line before. We just have to use it everywhere. I had a memo from her just after I started to amend it to our SF’s. Rachel and I had finally figured out that she wanted it attached to our signature files. Which I’d done. But somehow Lucy had managed to unattach hers and now adds it manually, often with misspellings, or in a random font.
“Makes us look like idiots,” Rachel grumbles, every time she sees it.
“Are you going to tell her?”
I agree with her there and fix whatever mistakes I can.
“Um, yes,” I smile at Graham. “We feel it sums up what we do here at Blankets for….”
“Our Overarching Mandate,” Lucy cuts me off.
“Hmmm… yes, I see…” Graham is reading a message off his phone. I’m not sure if I should continue or wait till he’s done.
The thing is I don’t really know what to say. Lucy is so proud of that tag line that she insists we trot it out at every opportunity, like an awkward child at a piano recital.
It has been incorporated into our logo. It’s part of every signature. We have to use it at least three times in every piece of correspondence that goes out. I know that Lucy is getting muddled there with SEO. But there is no way I can explain to her that SEO doesn’t work offline. Believe me, I’ve tried, but somehow, my explanation led to her thinking I don’t know how to make it work. My understanding of the parameters and limits of something always translates to Lucy believing I’m incompetent.
Graham puts his phone away. “Do we want to change your tag line?”
I wait for the roof to fall in, not daring to look at Rachel. She hates that tag line as much as Lucy loves it. “What the hell does it even mean?” she mutters, after answering the phone with it or worse, welcoming someone into the office with it.
But Lucy had paid a lot of money for it. A LOT of money. It had involved a three-day out-of-town conference that she’d attended with Darlene, my predecessor. She spent a fortune and she’s determined to get her money’s worth.
We decide we aren’t going to change the Tag Line.
“OK. Well, I guess we can work with it,” Graham says. “But the thing is, you have to cut back on its use. Only once per communication. Keep it in your prime real estate. You’re plastering it everywhere. It doesn’t belong in the body of a letter…”
“You’ll have to stop doing that,” Lucy mutters to me, turning to smile at Graham with a small shrug of her shoulders. “Ann came to us from the banking world, she’s new to non-profits.”
Graham gives me a pitying smile.
“Shall we take a break?” Lucy asks. “I think Rachel’s made some coffee.”
Lucy beetles off to the washroom, while I head to my office to catch my breath. As I leave, I hear Rachel asking Graham, “So should I stop saying it when I answer the phone?”
After the break, we’re to work on the theme for the next campaigns. Themes are big in the non-profit world. You can’t just raise money for a good cause. People don’t give to causes. They give to themes. They give to compelling pictures of needy children. Clean needy children.
We toss around variations of our Tag Line, but nothing grabs.
“Too bad it’s not Carpets for Kazakhstan,” says Graham. “We could do a whole campaign on the theme of Carpet Bombing…”
My foot finds his shin.
Lucy believes that every idea she pays money for is a good idea.
“Carpet bombing…” Lucy muses.
“Do you want me to order up something for lunch?” Rachel asks quickly. We are handily situated above a restaurant.
“No, no,” Lucy smiles. “I think Blankets for Botswana can take Graham out for lunch.”
Before we’re silly enough to reach for our things Lucy has spirited him out of the office.
“Blankets for Botswana can take Graham out, but not itself,” I grumble.
“No, it’s fine,” Rachel mutters, taking a misshapen lump out of her purse. “My kids made me a sandwich. Want coffee?”
We eat in the boardroom. The I Want You Dead Girls head downstairs. After two hours, it becomes apparent that neither they, our ED nor our Expensive Marketing Guru are coming back.