3 min read

What can palm trees teach us about strategy?

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Sun. Sand. Water. And palm trees.

This combo is perfection for me. Each time I’m able to bring these elements together, I soak up much-needed rest and relaxation. Possibly a momentary escape from reality.

And when it comes to creating an environment that delivers an immediate sense of relaxation, palm trees are at the top of the list. It’s most likely because we’ve been served up palm trees in association with tropical destinations ad nauseam. And let’s get the record straight, I do not disagree with the marketing.

But our beloved palm trees seem to be the great marketing bait and switch. OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but a big dose of carbon-filled reality hit this week.

Palm trees are not workhorses for cleansing the air of CO2. Who knew!? I thought all trees worked equally at the task of cleaning up dirty air. The harshness of reality hit this week with headlines that Florida is working on a plan to replace the iconic palm tree. This is driven by the goal of cleaner air and the fact that palm trees simply do not work hard enough at absorbing CO2. According to the article, palm trees soak up only 75 pounds of CO2 in their lifetime. Compare this to trees such as oaks, which absorb around 11,000 lifetime pounds, or the mahogany tree that kicks it up another notch to 12,000 pounds of CO2 removed in its lifetime.

So, let’s revisit the highlights: palm trees look great, on the beach and in advertising. They have become the iconic go-to tree to send the vacation vibe. But they do not get the job done when you ask them to clock in and clean our dirty air.

This brings us to the work of building brands and performance-focused growth strategies.

Let’s make certain we are not wrapped up in the marketing of our own palm trees. We must make sure our strategies and the tactics within are up to the task and are being measured and held accountable.

Does your program show well, but is loaded with the wrong tactics for the desired goal, like the palm tree.

Maybe it’s the metrics of your program that have been wrongly positioned. Have you been told to focus on average gift all by itself? Are you celebrating ridiculously high lifetime values while missing that your supporter base is shrinking, rapidly? Maybe your digital program is wrapped up in vanity metrics (“likes” and “shares”) rather than true performance indicators. You may not even be on the best social platform for your supporter demographic.

It’s not the fault of the palm tree that it doesn’t clean our air very well. Maybe we never told it that was the expectation. It’s the old saying of “the right tool for the job.”

Your supporters have told you and continue to tell you which tool is right for them. They do this by choosing how they engage with your cause. Where does their giving show up?

It’s important to understand the desires of your supporters, especially when you drill down to how they prefer to give. Knowing how your audience wants to engage means you can focus your energies, create the best experience for them, and drive your ROI by channel. Simply put, you can use the right tool for the job.

Below is a view of the supports’ preferred giving channel from our annual DonorGraphics research, a national study of behaviors for supporters and prospects. This is one insight we use to create omnichannel solutions for our clients.


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Source: One & All's DonorGraphics 2021. Base: U.S. donors (adults who are 12-month active donors), n=1,408.

Our focus is to create the perfect blend and balance of engagement channels for supporters. Getting that formula right is an ever-adjusting exercise, informed in real time by the actions of your supporters. Are you listening? Better yet, are you reacting and adjusting to create the best experience?

We need palm trees to create a vibe. We need oaks and mahogany trees to do the heavy lifting. Simply put, we need the right tool for the job.

Maybe you’re curious to know the preferences of your supporters, or to explore a more cohesive strategy. One & All can help.