Monday, February 28, 2011

BIG's Blog: “Boomers” – We are not all the same!

In Newsweek 2006, Jerry Alder wrote an article, Finding and Seeking, addressing the generational changes “Boomers” have brought to religion. The article speaks to this cohort’s desire for freedom of choice when it comes to religion.

He writes, “They are no longer preoccupied with salvation in the next life but rather fulfillment in this one.”

Fortunately, not all boomers were independent types searching out some new experience different from those of their parents. Many boomers wanted to preserve traditions and to pass them on to their offspring (e.g., the homeschooling movement). (Source)

These two article site the challenges that face religious nonprofits today. Almost six years after Finding and Seeking, the question we are still asking ourselves is, “How do religious nonprofits reach out to these individuals?” Is there a place to in our mission that speaks to those who want fulfillment in this world? How will we identify those who “believe in” and want to “carry on” the religious traditions?

The answer is through research, testing and data. There is no quick solution to the challenges religious nonprofits will face as we go through these steps. Now, more than ever, the importance of collaborative efforts in research, testing and data is needed to be successful in reaching out to these individuals. In my upcoming blogs, I will continue to address the changing demographics. If you have any questions or ideas, feel free to share send them with us. (Source)


Sunday, February 27, 2011

BIG’s Blog: What this Article Means for Nonprofit Fund Raisers – Part Four

In my last blog, I discussed the claims in the Direct Marketing News – Direct Daily article that essentially announced that by 2015, two-thirds of all purchases and half of all transactions will occur on mobile devices. I analyzed the arguments made by the Google executive and concluded that his claims were more than plausible.

So then, what are the implications for nonprofit fund raisers? Think about this for a second. Unless your fund raising organization is exceptional, my guess is that today you are getting a much smaller proportion of your donations through your Web site than through the mail and you are getting exactly ZERO through mobile.

Yet in a mere four years from now, according to the article, a huge share of ALL purchases and transactions will take place over mobile. FOUR YEARS AWAY! Are you feeling like you are sitting in a horse and buggy at a country cross road circa 1910 as you see a line of Ford Model T’s stream by?

It seems almost overwhelming, doesn’t it?

With few exceptions, the vast majority of fund raisers haven’t even figured out how to integrate the use of Web sites, email and social media into their dominant channel direct mail fund raising efforts, and now they learn mobile will probably be one of the key marketing channels in less than four years.

This is not business-as-usual. These are exceptional times.

Whatever you do, don’t let fear paralyze you. This is also an exciting time to be in fund raising! There are resources out there.

Last year, Browne Innovation Group inaugurated a seminar series entitled: "The Coming Transformation of Fund Raising," detailing core elements in developing a new fund raising strategy and, in seven seminars, over 100 organizations attended.

There are also a number of books and other resources we can recommend. Call or email and we will share the list.

I’ll have some final thoughts on the above article in my next blog.


Welcome to BIG’s Blog and yes, by all means forward our blog to your friends and co-workers.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

BIG's Blog: “It’s all about the Boomers!” (Statistics)

"By 2015, those aged 50 and older will represent 45% of the U.S. population." (AARP)

66% of boomers aged fifty-one to fifty-nine plan on staying mentally active through working without retiring. 49% of baby boomers plan to continue to work part-time until their health does not permit it. Their interests are travel, hobbies and investing time into things to fulfill their life.

According to the article, “Online Baby Boomers: A Demographic Profile, 2009,” there are 64.8 million Baby Boomers online. This equals 37% of all people online in the US.

Boomer women make up 19% of the total population.

What do the statistics above signify to religious nonprofits about their future? It suggests that Boomer women may have disposable income to support your missions now and into the future. If asked to participate, the nonprofits' missions may give Boomer women the opportunities to fulfill their lives.

How a nonprofit reaches out to the Boomer cohort will determine the success of its cultivation. The use of social media to communicate your message is the “wave” of the near future. If 37% of this market currently uses the Internet, they will become more comfortable with all forms of social media. Begin to plan how you will adapt your mission’s needs using social media along with current marketing methods.


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

BIG’s Blog: What this Article Means for Nonprofit Fund Raisers – Part Three

In my last blog, I have been unpacking the importance for fund raisers of the Direct Marketing News – Direct Daily article about a Google executive stating that, by 2015, two-thirds of all purchases and half of all transactions will occur on mobile devices.

The question is: Is this just hype or is it the future?

Well, Mr. Shapiro, the Google executive, builds his case by citing statistics that first, consumers will digest 80% of all visual content through digital by 2015. What is visual content? Visual content is everything you read or look at, whether a physical printed newspaper, magazine or book or the myriad of information delivered via computers, tablets, Kindle-like reading devices or mobile. Second, he cites recent growth figures and tells us that mobile searches grew 500% in the last two years. Obviously, since he is with Google, you can rely on him knowing the numbers on search. Third, he states that mobile today is the third most used media behind telephone (landlines we presume) and the Internet. And finally, Mr. Shapiro cites mobile subscriber numbers worldwide at 5 billion, with 1.9 billion of those mobile devices connected to the Internet. In fact, Mr. Shapiro goes on to tell us that Google predicts mobile subscribers to hit 10 billion within 10 years.

So, can we believe the hype? From our last blog, we discussed why Google is interested in mobile, after all they own and license the mobile operating system called Android. It seems that Google’s strategy is to marry search (Google’s core service) with mobile (Google’s growing Android mobile operating business) to help people find what they want through their mobile devices. These are very sharp business people and they are making some very big investments. I would bet that they are probably right.

So what are the implications for nonprofit fund raisers? I will sum it up in my next blog.


Welcome to BIG’s Blog and yes, by all means forward our blog to your friends and co-workers.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

BIG's Blog: The next generation

Institutional Donors versus the Baby Boomers and Younger Generations touched upon the changing demographics of the nonprofit constituency. Mike Browne’s audits of faith based nonprofits showed that, in some organizations, Depression and WWII cohorts make up 90% of the donor databases. This is an alarming statistic, especially when you consider how many may be major constituent donors. Think about the time it took to develop the relationship with these constituents.

A question the nonprofit should ask is: How will our cultivation process change to bring on new generations of cohorts? What happens if the cultivation process takes longer with Boomers and younger cohorts? The approached used on Depression or WWII cohorts will not be successful with the next generation of constituents. As nonprofits try to cultivate relationships with the “Me Generation,” how will you bring value to these cohorts to support your mission?

The organization may already see a change in support from family foundations. An annual gift that once was a “given” from the foundation is no longer there. As younger generations of the family sit on the board, funding decisions are likely to change. They will have a different perspective of what is worthy of support – especially in faith based non-profits.

If the nonprofit is seeing a change in giving patters, now is the time to understand why. A strategy session with representatives of present and future cohorts will bring to light the differences in each generation. The knowledge gained from this session can help to develop a cultivation strategy for the next generation of funding opportunities.


Monday, February 21, 2011

BIG’s Blog: What this Article Means for Nonprofit Fund Raisers – Part Two

In my last blog, I referenced the article by Juan Martinez from the Direct Marketing News – Direct Daily and told you that it was loaded with important news for nonprofit fund raisers and that I would do my best to unpack the implications.

The title of the article: Most purchases, half of transactions to be mobile by 2015: Google. David Shapiro, director of small business marketing for Google, made the statement at a Direct Marketing Association (DMA) breakfast meeting at Google’s New York offices. His actual statement was, “Two-thirds of all purchases and half of all transactions will occur on mobile devices by 2015.”

This news is astounding. And even if Mr. Shapiro is only partly correct, and let’s even say he is only 25% right, this is still very important news for fund raisers trying to reach new prospects.

Okay, a little analysis up to this point. First, why is a Google executive talking about mobile, which, of course, references mobile phones and more particularly, the mobile smart phones connected to the Internet? Google, of course, has the most used search engine on the planet, but they also own and license the Android operating system for smart phones. Android smart phones compete directly with Apple’s iPhone and other smart phones. Second, the growth of mobile and smart phones is exponential and not just in the United States.

When Mr. Shapiro refers to more and more transactions via mobile, he is really talking about three central features converging in smart phones. Those are computer-like capability, connectedness and portability.

First, as smart phones become more computer-like in their power via applications, people who own smart phones will do more of the things they used to do on their computers in the area of actual work, fun, communications and, of course, this includes search. Second, bandwidth is growing for mobile devices which allow almost all applications that run on computers to run on mobile devices including pulling down video. And third, it is not lost on anyone that it is much easier to haul around a smart phone than a laptop computer, and since mobile devices fit in your pocket or purse, they are always with you.

Mr. Shapiro, in admonishing marketers to pay attention to this trend, says, “Marketers must follow the four B’s: Be relevant, Be found, Be engaging and Be accountable.”

Isn’t that what you try to “Be” with all your communications to constituent donors and prospects? Does this mean that you need to rush out and hire a firm to get your messages on mobile? Maybe so, but let’s wait at least until we have finished analyzing all the implications for fund raisers found in this article.

Look for Part Three of this series coming soon.


Welcome to BIG’s Blog and yes, by all means forward our blog to your friends and co-workers.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Major Donor Relationships – long-term or short-range?

In Mike Browne’s recent blog, Institutional Donors versus the Baby Boomers and Younger Generations, Mike presents examples of the changing demographics of the Catholic Church and the attitudes of these individuals. The generational changes will challenge the current cultivation process of major constituents. An organization will need to change its cultivation approach in order to acquire a major gift.

In my upcoming blogs, I will address the generational differences of these constituents as the organization seeks to build major donor relationships for today and into the future.

Build an approach plan that is a “win-win” for both the constituent and the organization. The mission of the organization depends on the success of this relationship.

Numerous stories have been told by major constituent donors where an organization needed funding for a project. Constituents were approached with the needs of the organization. The constituent thought the organization’s need was worth their investment, so they wrote the check. After the organization received the generous gift, the donor received a thank you letter and then failed to hear from the organization until the next time they needed funding. This approach worked with the Depression and WWII-era cohorts. They are institutional givers. But will this approach work in the future?


Thursday, February 17, 2011

BIG’s Blog: What this Article Means for Nonprofit Fund Raisers – Part One

It was just one article in a group of several articles from the online edition of Direct Marketing News – Direct Daily. I could have missed it, but thankfully I did not. The article was entitled, Most purchases, half of transactions to be mobile by 2015: Google.

As it rates in importance to the professional life of nonprofit fund raisers, this article on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the most important) is an 18. That’s my tongue-in-cheek way of saying this article is not only worth reading, it is worth reading paragraph-by-paragraph.

A possible comparative example from my own professional life happened in 1996. Had I not been paying attention, it would have adversely affected my professional life for decades. I was attending some kind of venture capital forum in Silicon Valley. Larry Ellison, the CEO of Oracle, the hardware and software database company, was the keynote speaker that kicked off the first day's morning session. Frankly, I don’t remember anything beyond the first four words of his address that morning and in the fog of time, I remember even less about the conference as a whole. But I will never forget the first four words of his morning speech as they echo over time. I have seen their wisdom and insight play out weekly, monthly and yearly since 1996. Those four words were, “The Internet changes everything.”

The article I commend to you above and encourage you to read very carefully is only slightly less momentous in its prognostication of the future insofar as nonprofit fund raisers are concerned.

In my blogs to follow, I will dissect this article as it contains some extremely important news for fund raisers, but more important than just the news are the implications for fund raisers.

Read the article and watch for my blogs to come.


Welcome to BIG’s Blog and yes, by all means forward our blog to your friends and co-workers.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

BIG’s Blog: The Old Order Is Passing Faster than Expected

Oh, you thought I was talking about Mubarak in Egypt?

No, I'm talking about how fast direct mail net margins are eroding based on forces we all knew were coming; just not this fast!

Frankly, I thought most direct mail fund raising programs could still be profitable ten years from now - albeit much smaller. But, I am thinking five years is a stretch based upon some new information. Some of our latest work, as well as conversations with historically large nonprofit direct mail fund raisers, lead me to conclude that net margins are eroding faster than I believe anyone anticipated.

- Production cost increases

- Postage rate increases

- Declining response rates

- Shrinking pool of prospect names

We’re in uncharted waters here. This IS NOT good news for nonprofits that depend on direct mail. The last ten years have seen the cost to raise a dollar double through direct mail. Look at your own 10+ year direct mail net margin trend lines and tell me you don’t see eroding margins.

Does anyone think this is sustainable?

Yet ... Organizations continue building their mail plans.

Remember, I have been in direct mail marketing for 30+ years. Few individuals and organizations have been responsible for mailing as much mail as I have. I have no vested interest in seeing direct mail die; in fact, I have a deep emotional attachment to direct mail. What I am saying is as real as it gets.

Here is what is important: BUILD AN ALTERNATIVE STRATEGY while your direct mail program is still profitable – if it still is profitable – and nobody can say with certainty if your program has two, five, seven or nine profitable years left as each organization has its own dynamics, although studying your own trend lines would give you a clue. Do you have a fiduciary responsibility to begin asking and raising questions like, “What happens when our direct mail program is not profitable?”

Direct mail as an adjunct to a multi-channel direct marketing strategy is not what I am talking about here. An important note, when I am talking about direct mail programs, I mean direct mail alone accounting for a significant portion of your fund raising budget.

Are there ways to extend your direct mail programs profitability? The answer is yes; and it might buy you another year or two but the truth is that it is akin to rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic – the direct mail ship as you have known it is going down.

The good news is there are alternative strategies out there.

Starting with my next blog, I am going to share an article that hit me like a ton of bricks. It will have the same affect on you.


Welcome to BIG’s Blog and yes, by all means forward our blog to your friends and co-workers.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

BIG's Blog: Board Development, Part Three: Elevator Pitch Training

One never knows when an opportunity to use your elevator pitch will present itself. But, just developing an elevator pitch is not enough. The pitch needs to flow easily in the conversation; this takes practice.

Once a board member becomes comfortable with the pitch, they will learn to adapt the message for the type of constituent they meet. A good pitch will compel a constituent to ask questions.

There will be board members who are apprehensive about this training. To calm their fears, explain that this training process will teach them a simple way to introduce the organization to others. New board members will appreciate this training. It takes time to feel comfortable to speak about information that is new to an individual.

When an elevator pitch is delivered well, interested constituents ask more questions about the organization. This begins the relationship with the constituent. Sharing the organization's story introduces the constituent to learn more about the organization and its needs.

Help inexperienced board members get excited about their pitch. Help them to show their enthusiasm about your organization. Coach them to think about their Catholic values and how their commitment to your mission supports these values.


Monday, February 14, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Institutional Donors versus the Baby Boomers and Younger Generations

The headline in The New York Times screamed, "Donors Demand a Bigger Voice in Catholic Schools."

But, the real story isn’t just about the donor demands on Catholic schools; it’s about the shift in mindset and expectations of younger donors when compared to their elders. What is the age of these younger donors? How about 72? Remember, the oldest Boomers turn 65 this year. And the youngest edge of the WWII generational cohort (1922 to 1945) is closer to the charitable ethos of the Boomer generational cohort than the Depression era cohort (1912 to 1921).

What does this have to do with faith-based fund raising? Simply put, it is a sea change in attitude that not only Catholic nonprofit organizations are going to have to adapt to but all faith-based organizations.

“The relationship between the church and its contributors used to be basically, ‘Pray, pay and obey – give us money, we’ll take it from there,'" said Francis J. Butler, president of Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, a national network of Catholic philanthropies.

In general, the Depression and WWII era cohorts are institutional givers. They are what Mr. Butler refers to as the Pray, pay and obey generations; they also are, in my experience with established faith-based nonprofit organizations, the VAST MAJORITY of the current donor base for faith-based nonprofits today. The Depression and WWII cohorts make up less than 12% of the population and their numbers are rapidly declining, yet they represent as high as 90% of some donor databases I have audited. This over-dependence on two declining generational cohorts is hugely problematic on many levels for established faith-based organizations. But, with the inevitable rise in the proportion of Boomers and younger cohorts as donors to faith-based organizations, these non-institutionally oriented younger donors have different expectations.

Accountability, transparency, heightened relationship engagement and even donor involvement are several of the key qualifiers for faith-based organizations that hope to increase younger constituent donors in the Boomer, Gen X and Millennial generational cohorts.


Welcome to BIG’s Blog and yes, by all means forward our blog to your friends and co-workers.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

BIG's Blog: Board Development, Part Two (continued): Developing the Pitch

Elevator pitches are usually delivered by board members to individuals that could open doors for the organization. Board members may or may not know these individuals. For this reason, it is beneficial that the board and leadership together create the elevator pitch.

Leadership within the organization needs to provide the answers to these questions:

WHO is the organization the board is representing?
WHAT is the mission of the organization? What are the projects they are looking to fund?
WHY is the mission important to the world/community/church?

Once the board and organization have answered these questions, it is important to:
  • Create a unified message for the organization
  • Write that message down
  • Give it to anyone who represents your organization
Never assume that the board or leadership will have the same response to these questions. It can be difficult to develop a consistent message. But it is a necessity. A clear account of the “who,” “what” and “why” ensures that there is no miscommunication of the organization’s mission or its needs.

When all questions are answered, the staff can help the board write an elevator pitch with a concise message and yet make it personal for each member of the board. New opportunities will present themselves when an outstanding elevator pitch is delivered.

But how does one deliver an outstanding elevator pitch? The answer is: Training!

Part Three of this blog series will address how the organization can assist the board in using the elevator pitch.


Wednesday, February 9, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Relationship Building - Fund Raising Faith-based Organizations Can Love - Part Five

In this blog, the final installment of the Five-Part series entitled: Relationship Building – Fund Raising Faith-based Organizations Can Love, I will address the most difficult hurdle in moving the focus of fund raising to Relationship Building.

Without a doubt, the most difficult hurdle many faith-based fund raising organizations face is that they will either not attempt this transition or will fail at it because of their fear of change. In all human endeavors, change is by far the most difficult hurdle to overcome before transformation can occur. Is it any wonder that through history at times of great turmoil, whether personal or national, it is fear of change that grips us and keeps us from moving forward? President Franklin Roosevelt in his first inaugural address in the depths of the great depression echoes over time the reminder to all of us, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

In the weeks and months to come, I will write blog after blog about the tremendous benefits of this fundamental shift in fund raising to Relationship Building and point to more and more faith-based and secular nonprofit fund raising organizations shifting the way they engage constituent donors. But the overarching issue for faith-based fund raisers is coming to the point of recognizing the need for a change in direction in fund raising and making the decision to begin that transition.

Most of the people reading this blog work in faith-based or religious fund raising organizations that have been around for at least 50+ years. Fifty years ago there were 70 to 80 percent fewer nonprofit fund raising organizations. Today’s potential constituent donors have a wide choice of organizations to support. Whether your fund raising organization today has thousands or millions of constituent donors, today each one of those constituent donors expects to have a relationship with the organizations they support or they will leave and go find an organization they can have a relationship with.

In closing this series, here are some final thoughts. This kind of fundamental transformation rarely comes along. After all, what Gutenberg started with his moveable type printing press over 550 years ago has been the basis for our broad-base non-broadcast communications up until very recent times. And I don’t have to explain to my blog readers – of a certain vintage – that the world is moving much faster than it was when we got our first job a few decades ago; all the more reason that this transformation for all nonprofit fund raising organizations is essential for survival. But, for faith-based organizations, maybe the more compelling reason is the ability to develop deep and personal relationships with their constituents and where gifts from constituents become a by-product of the relationship rather than donations from...more often than not...anonymous donors.

Change of this type is heavy lifting. It involves organizational introspection, keen and dispassionate assessment skills as well as the ability to develop a new strategic plan direction. Some organizations can do this internally, but many cannot. Seek out guidance and expertise if you feel you do not have the resources internally. But, by all means, do not let fear freeze your organization from transforming it’s fund raising. Making the decision to transform your fund raising from a focus on donations to a focus on relationship building is long overdue for faith-based fund raising organizations.


Welcome to BIG’s Blog and yes, by all means forward our blog to your friends and co-workers.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

BIG's Blog: Board Development, Part Two: Developing the Pitch

How do you develop an elevator pitch? It is a fairly simple exercise that you can do with the board. Developing the pitch will be broken down into two sections: personal questions and organizational questions.

Step one: Answering personal questions.

WHO is this individual to the organization: a lay board member, a religious member or staff? (In some cases, the religious member may be staff.)

WHAT role does the board member fulfill within the context of the organization: president, treasurer, secretary or another role?

WHY is the board member involved with your organization?

The questions a board member must answer themselves are the “WHO” and “WHY.” The Board roles and responsibility guidelines help to answer the “WHAT” statement.

Going through this exercise is a great way for long-time board members to be reminded why they became involved with the organization to begin with. Addressing the “WHY” may motivate and re-energize board members to become an active voice again.

My next blog we will address step two of the developing the pitch process: the organization’s information.


Monday, February 7, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Relationship Building - Fund Raising Faith-based Organizations Can Love - Part Four

The definition of a "disruptive technology" is that when it comes on the scene, it first “disrupts” the existing technology by being better, faster, or cheaper or all the above. And then it “displaces” the older technology.

In my last blog, Part Three of this series, I used the example of the automobile displacing the horse and buggy as an analogy to digital media displacing paper and ink, but, of course, I could have just pointed to what is happening to newspapers.

The issue is not direct mail versus digital communications; that argument is over. Analog communications, represented by direct mail, has been disrupted by digital communications and is being displaced. The issue is: when and how are faith-based fund raising organizations going to adopt and transition to digital communications?

While there are many compelling reasons to shift to digital-based communications – remember better-faster-cheaper – for faith-based organizations, the most profound reason ties directly to the human element of relationship building. One of our core beliefs at Browne Innovation Group is that fund raising should be a natural by-product of the organization’s mission and ministry, not the focus. And for faith-based organizations in particular, THAT should be the Gold Standard.

This shift in the nonprofit fund raising sector is already well underway. Validation of that statement is found by looking no further than the growing base of nonprofit fund raising literature on this very subject including a new book entitled, The Networked Nonprofit by Kanter and Fine. For nonprofit fund raisers, The Networked Nonprofit is a seminal work in explaining both the shift to the Net and the implications. And for faith-based and religious organizations, the changes and the positive implications lead inevitably to the process of using these new technologies including social networks to fundamentally reshape relationship development with those individuals that have a heart for your mission and ministry...and by doing so, change the very definition of what Development means for fund raisers. This was unimaginable in the analog fund raising world with the possible exception of sitting face-to-face with a very few well-to-do donors. The Net democratizes relationship development fund raising as we know it. Combined with enhanced data, analytics and digital-based communication tools, fund raisers can literally keep in touch and develop personal relationships with hundreds, thousands or millions of constituents and constituent donors.

Here is the question faith-based organizations must ask themselves: “Are we ready to shift our focus in fund raising from Building Donations to Building Relationships?”

If the answer is “Yes,” then look for my final installment in this series on Thursday, February 10.


Welcome to BIG’s Blog and yes, by all means forward our blog to your friends and co-workers.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

BIG's Blog: Board Development, Part One: Does your board have an elevator pitch?

You ask, "What is an elevator pitch?"

"Why does a board member need one?"

In simple words, an elevator pitch is a prepared speech that tells individuals who you are and what you do in just a few words. It is very helpful in defining who and what the organization does, and the role the individual plays within the organization.

It is fairly common when you meet someone new to ask, “What do you do?”

Business professionals use this two- to three-minute presentation to grab the attention of individuals they meet. It is a tool used to market the individual and the business they represent.


Thursday, February 3, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Relationship Building - Fund Raising Faith-based Organizations Can Love - Part Three

In my last blog, Part Two of the series, "Relationship Building – Fund Raising Faith-based Organizations Can Love," (February 2, 2011) I contrasted the old analog paradigm of fund raising that begins with a direct mail donation with the new paradigm of fund raising that begins with an interested potential constituent making contact with the organization. By the way, I make a distinction between a constituent – someone who supports your organization, but, for whatever reason, cannot make a financial gift at the moment – and a constituent donor who supports your organization, but also donates to your work.

Readers of Part Two of this blog series already know that the paradigm shift in the way nonprofit organization fund raising is made possible by the digital-based Internet and online digital communication tools.

Does this mean that direct mail doesn’t work today? Of course not. A shift like this takes time, as people of a certain vintage – like me – change our habits slowly, while people in their 20s and 30s have grown up with digital communications and don’t know anything else. The Internet only came into the public consciousness less than 20 years ago. We are in a cross-over or transition time. I guarantee you that people were still driving horses and buggies as Henry Ford’s Model Ts were rolling off the assembly lines.

The point isn’t that direct mail is going away tomorrow. The real point is that online digital communications is the rising dominant form of communications and is very relationship building friendly.

In my next blog, Part Four of "Relationship Building - Fund Raising Faith-based Organizations Can Love," I will discuss how your organization can build deep relationships with a small circle of friends; even if that small circle is 10 million friends.


Welcome to BIG’s Blog and yes, by all means forward our blog to your friends and co-workers.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

BIG's Blog: Addressing the Fear!

In my last blog, I wrote about Catholic Boards’ roles and responsibilities. One of the challenges an organization faces once the roles and responsibilities are defined is FEAR. A board member’s idea of their responsibilities may be different than what is expected. Once a board member realizes the expectations are real, and that they will be held accountable by board leaders, how can the organization address the fears that may come from the board?

Statements such as, “I don’t want to ask for money” or, “This is not what I signed up for!” are reactions to the reality of board responsibilities.

The organization is responsible for helping the board members face these fears. Staff and leadership can help convert the board’s emotions into an opportunity for personal growth. A supportive relationship between staff, leadership and the board is critical to the success of the organization.

How can the organization address board challenges? Suggestions to consider:

Day retreats for the board that includes updates on the mission, “ask” training, sharing ideas and development opportunities.

Also, provide personal coaching for individual board members who are hesitant about sharing the mission with others. This may help the timid board member calm their nerves. Coaching may be provided by staff or an outside consultant.

I have witnessed and personally experienced organizations that took the time to address board fears. The organizations reaped the rewards and gained the respect of its board members.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Relationship Building - Fund Raising Faith-based Organizations Can Love - Part Two

In my last blog, Part One of the series "Relationship Building - Fund Raising Faith-based Organizations Can Love," I asked the question, “Isn’t the real point of fund raising to develop relationships?”

The cynics will say, “No, the point of fund raising is to develop funds to fuel the mission and ministry of the organization.” And while I agree with that end, for faith-based fund raisers, I believe the means to the end is ultimately as important as the end.

So then, why can’t we have our cake and eat it too?

As I shared in Part One of this series, it turns out that today we can.

In my above analogy, “our cake” (relationships) is fully compatible with “eat it too” (financial gifts) but, this necessitates a fund raising paradigm change.

The Old Paradigm (think analog world of direct mail):

Step One: Acquire donor; focus is on generating the first donation.
Step Two: Focus is on getting the second donation by sharing organization’s needs.
Step Three: Cultivate the relationship through more appeals and communications.

The New Paradigm (think Internet, digital-based world):

Step One: Potential constituent makes contact with the organization.
Step Two: Engage and cultivate the relationship with the potential constituent based upon their needs.
Step Three: Some constituents will become constituent donors.

Do you see the shift in focus? Driven by the technology shift from analog to digital and the attendant explosion of new online communication tools, this technology shift sets up a more profound shift for nonprofit fund raisers. And that key shift is moving from an organization-centered orientation with constituents to a constituent donor-centered orientation.

In my next blog, Part Three of this series, I will describe the better way.


Welcome to BIG’s Blog and yes, by all means forward our blog to your friends and co-workers.