Wednesday, April 27, 2011

BIG’s Blog: The Realization and the Opportunity – Part One

The Realization
For regular readers of my blog, you know that one of the main themes that I watch and then blog about is the changing dynamic of digital communications and the Internet in society, especially as it applies to the fund raising work of Development departments of nonprofits. In fact, this is what Browne Innovation Group was founded to address.

If all was well with the world of fund raising, there would be no need for a consulting practice like BIG, dedicated to helping established nonprofit fund raising departments develop a new strategic plan to address these fundamental changes to our economy and in society that are reshaping “How” and “Where” we communicate with new and existing donors.

Recently, one of my favorite writers shared some thoughts that were both extremely insightful and practical to what all nonprofit fund raisers are seeing and dealing with today.

Over the next two blogs, I am going to use Seth Godin’s insights juxtaposed against how they translate to the problems that nonprofit fund raisers are facing. Seth lays out first, the Realization of this Fundamental Change and then shares the Opportunity that this Brave New Digital World opens up.

Seth writes:

It’s one thing to read about changes the Internet brought; it’s another to experience them. People who thought they had a valuable skill or degree have discovered that being an anonymous middleman doesn’t guarantee job security. Individuals who are trained to comply and follow instructions have discovered that the deal is over...and it isn’t their fault, because they’ve always done what they were told.

What’s actually happening is this: we’re realizing that the industrial revolution is fading. The 80-year long run that brought ever-increasing productivity (and along with it, well-paying jobs for an ever-expanding middle class) is ending.

It takes a long time for a generation to come around to significant revolutionary change. The newspaper business, the steel business, law firms, the car business, the record business, even by one, our industries are being turned upside down, and so quickly that it requires us to change faster than we’d like.
Mike’s commentary:

Change always comes faster than we’d like. But, the truth is that this change has been happening since the early to mid-90s. Remember, was founded in 1994 and their Web site went live in 1995. That was 16 years ago and Amazon changed retailing forever. Today, it isn’t just the fading recession that is keeping all those open spaces empty at your local mall. It’s the combination of people from the old economy jobs that are still out of work and hence not spending money and all the new online retail competition.

Yet fund raisers see this fundamental change going on around them, but, just like the newspapers, the steel companies, law firms, car dealers, the music business and computers – do you own an iPad yet? – the nonprofit fund raising world “as a whole” is slow to adapt to the digital Internet age. The implications of the Internet are going to start hitting fund raisers very soon and it may not be pretty for those that don’t actively seek to embrace it. And the fact that you have a Web site, send emails and e-newsletters, and arm your charitable gift officers with smartphones isn’t even close to enough. Just like the newspapers who still have readers, but have seen their number of advertisers decline, so too established nonprofit Development departments have donors, but are finding it tougher and tougher...and more get new donors.
Seth writes:

I regularly hear from people who say, “Enough with this conceptual stuff; tell me how to get my factory moving, my day job replaced, my consistent paycheck restored ...” There’s an idea that somehow, if we just do things with more effort or skill, we can go back to the Brady Bunch and mass markets and mediocre products that pay off for years. It’s not an idea, though; it’s a myth.

For a while, politicians...promised that things would get back to normal. Those promises aren’t enough...and it’s clear to many that this might be the new normal. In fact, it is the new normal.
Tomorrow, the Opportunity.


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