At the bedrock of my business and leadership philosophy is the idea that you have to move people if you want to get things done. Whether it’s turning a company around, getting a sports team to play well together, or asking a mom to buy a box of cereal, it always starts with connecting to people emotionally. The same holds true for major relief efforts. Don’t drown us in data, pile on the pie charts, or speak in lofty abstractions—tell me a story about a person.
Since December of last year, I’ve written several times about Storm Desmond, and the devastating impact its record-breaking rainfall had on the idyllic county of Cumbria in the English Lake District, including blocked roads, collapsed bridges, and thousands of flooded homes. The Cumbria Flood Recovery Appeal, launched by the Cumbria Community Foundation, has done tremendous work helping residents and businesses slowly begin to regain a sense of normalcy in the New Year.
The Appeal’s latest offering is perhaps its most emotional and popular yet. “Song for Jen,” written by Vaughan Kennedy and sung by Leeds-based singer Liz Keeting, is available for download from iTunes for just 79p, with every penny going direct to the Appeal, with no fees or expenses deducted.
The songwriter’s agent, Malcolm Thorogood, recently explained the story behind the song during an interview on UK radio. “Jen is a Kendal flood victim in her sixties who was living by herself. She was made homeless by the floods with no family near. She has lost everything,” Thorogood said. “Previously I had asked Vaughan Kennedy to send me a few songs on a CD from his ‘cupboard.’ It arrived the day after I learnt about Jen and one of those songs happened to be about a woman who had lost everything. I thought it was a perfect ‘Song for Jen’ and the thousands of others made homeless by the floods and therefore it could be a good fundraiser for Cumbria Flood Appeal.”
A testament to the impact organizations can have when they touch people’s lives emotionally. The morning after its first radio play, “Song for Jen” reached No. 1 on the iTunes UK “easy listening” chart—ahead of Andrea Bocelli—and currently charts at No. 39 worldwide. Please open your hearts, ears, and change purses to this beautiful work on behalf of a most worthy cause.