Tuesday, May 31, 2011

BIG’s Blog: The Economy and Fund Raising in Transition

Don’t ever bet against the U. S. economy. That is a lesson you can take to the bank. Every time our economy goes into a recession . . . even a deep and severe recession like the one we are now coming out of . . . there is always a tendency to think that our economic world will never recover.

Our economy does recover. But, what is lost on most folks is that it is a slightly different economy than the one that went into recession. Some businesses went out of business and others got stronger and grew. The U. S. economy is always evolving as nothing ever stays static.

Don’t bet against U. S. fund raisers. Although there will be some fund raising organizations that will not evolve and they will fail, the vast majority will choose to develop new plans and make the needed changes to not only survive, but grow.

And change is coming fast.


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

Monday, May 30, 2011

BIG's Blog: A Day I Will Always Remember

I attended the ordination of a close friend on Saturday. Although I have attended many ordinations, this was one to remember. Let me explain.

I have seen many religious leaders interact with the church assembly. But, the archbishop who presided over this ordination ceremony was remarkable. During the whole ceremony, you felt like you had known this man all his life. He was warm and gracious to the congregation. He spoke to the family of this young man as if they were his own family. He even reached out to two little boys and asked their parents to continue this great tradition in their family. Everything he did came across as genuine and sincere.

I believe if the archbishop would have passed the basket at the end of this celebration he would have raised a significant amount of money. He left me thinking about how we build relationships with our donors. Are we warm and gracious in our relationships? Do we make them feel a part of our mission? Whether it is in a letter, on the phone or in person, are we “real” or are we just thinking about what we need?

Only you can answer that question.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Are Netflix and Just Lucky?

Do you think the folks at Netflix and are just lucky? Let’s review . . .

Netflix, a monthly subscription-based movie service that ships DVDs directly to customers, was started in 1997 by founder and CEO Reed Hastings who was inspired to start the company after being charged late fees for returning a copy of Apollo 13 after the due date. Netflix built its customer platform online and customers go to their Web site to make their movie selections which are shipped for free.

Netflix upended . . . or disrupted . . . the established business model of renting movies at your neighborhood video store. When Netflix first made a public offering of its stock on the New York Stock Exchange, the price per share was $15. Today, the stock trades at over $250 per share.

And what about Blockbuster, the neighborhood brick and mortar movie retailer that was seemingly on every corner? It went bankrupt in 2010. started as an online shoe retailer in 1999. Their CEO has famously said that their sales in 1999 were near nothing. By 2009, they did $1 billion in sales. And Zappos free shipping, 24/7/365 customer service and one year return policy, have set a new standard for traditional mail order merchants.

You can only subscribe to Netflix or purchase merchandise online. They have no brick and mortar stores.

Would either Netflix or Zappos have been successful if they would have printed and mailed catalogs or opened stores in the local strip mall?

When nonprofit fund raisers began using direct mail to solicit donations, weren’t they just using the direct marketing methods modeled after the successful retail mail order companies of their day such as Sears Roebuck and Montgomery Wards?

It can easily be argued that all marketing in the digital age is direct marketing. Aren’t smart nonprofit fund raisers going to again adopt successful direct marketing approaches from today’s successful direct marketing online merchants like Netflix and Zappos?

Isn’t it clear yet that there are alternative fund raising models to direct mail?

Are you going to play around with online, but really not commit to develop a viable cohesive strategy, depending instead on direct mail even as your margins collapse? That sounds like a Blockbuster of a strategy.

The alternative is to adopt new successful strategies and tactics that successfully model methodologies used by Netflix and Zappos to not just keep your fund raising flat, even as direct mail inevitably falls of, but actually growing it to new levels that you never even imagined possible.

By-the-way, the Postal Service reported last week a $747 million dollar net loss in April. In case you are keeping score, that’s $3.3 billion in net losses for this fiscal year.


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

Thursday, May 26, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Feeling Like Cassandra

For the few of you that never took Latin, Cassandra was the daughter of King Priam and Queen Hecuba of Troy. Her beauty was such that Apollo fell in love with her and granted her the gift of prophecy. But, when she failed to return his love, Apollo placed a curse on her so that no one would believe her predictions. This curse caused her great suffering all her life.

Well, I clearly don’t have the gift of prophecy, but, I can read and connect-the-dots.

HEADLINE: Postal Service runs $747 million April net loss. In case you’re keeping score, that’s more than $3.3 billion in losses this fiscal year so far. And yes, this means the USPS is on track to exceed their fiscal year 2010 loss of $8.5 billion.

But wait; there’s more. The article states:

“A federal appeals court said this week that the Postal Regulatory Commission must reexamine the USPS’ request to enact “exigent” rate increases, or price hikes greater than the rate of inflation. The PRC denied the Postal Service request to do so last September.”

Can you spell R-A-T-E I-N-C-R-E-A-S-E? And, your direct mail margins are already under stress.

There are alternative strategies to your heavy dependence on direct mail fund raising and they come from the same source your organization learned them from 50+ years ago.

Watch for my Monday blog. I know it’s the Memorial Day holiday, so maybe you can read it while you sip cold tea.

You don’t want to miss it!


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

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

BIG's Blog: Take the Quiz: How Powerful are You as a Salesperson for Your Organization’s Mission?

Today, I was reading Bnet, a blog presented by the CBS Interactive Business Network, because I’m always searching for trends that could impact the nonprofit field. This particular blog addresses the sales process through the use of a series of questions directed to business leaders. By analyzing the answers, the author is able to determine how much someone knows about the sales process and ultimately how successful the salesperson will be in generating revenue.

After taking the quiz, I realized that this process could be adapted by major donor officers. You may say to yourself: “We don’t sell anything; we are mission-driven.”

True, but your mission is the product and major donor officers are selling why it is important for a donor to want to “buy into” that mission and write a check to support it.

Major donor officers are the “outside sales persons” for a nonprofit. But, many of these individuals are not successful in bringing in significant monies needed to support that organization’s mission, because they are not using the right skills for the goal of generating funds.

You might want try taking this simple quiz. It’ll only you a few minutes! But, it may help you better understand the skills that are needed to be a good major gifts officer. When you’re hiring a development officer, looking for individuals who score high on this quiz may help you find the person who understands what works and does not work when in the sales process. Click on this link and have fun. Myth or Fact? Test Your Sales Career IQ!

As proof of the power of this quiz, a major gifts officer that I’ve worked with scored in the top 90%. By the way, he also brought in a $15,000,000 gift to the organization.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Be Not Afraid of Greatness

Right now, as you read this blog, there reside in your donor database two types of donors. The first group are those donors that will never engage you online, preferring instead mail oriented and phone communication. The second group will engage you online.

Those donors that will never engage you online are probably the vast majority of your donor file and will choose to continue to connect with you via phone and mail and will respond to your appeals in the way they have always responded; which is to say, through the mail.

From this point on, I will only be talking about those donors that have crossed the line and engaged you online, and though age plays a part, it is not the only factor.

You need to begin developing a plan for the donors that will engage you online. Forget about whether they sometimes give by mail and other times give online. Once they have given online or begun to communicate with you online, the trajectory for this group is online. As time marches on, more and more of this group’s donor activity will be online.

While you can always improve your direct mail, in the matter of the focus of your time, it is time to turn your Development department's focus towards creating your online plan.

Shakespeare said, “Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.”

Bob Dylan said, “The times they are a-changin.”

Mesh those two insights together and boldly set out to change how you engage your donors.

For all the great work you have done in your career in Development, building this online plan will be your legacy.


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

Monday, May 23, 2011

BIG's Blog: Something to Consider

A USA Today/Gallup poll indicates that overall, 40% more US adults say they use Google in a typical week (60%) than have a Facebook page (43%).

Based upon these statistics, if you are in the marketing field, you may think that you need to quickly move to develop a Facebook page. But, before you leap, please read on and consider some additional numbers.

It is true that Google and Facebook have substantially higher usage rates, but this is with a younger, wealthier and educated cohort. But, 34% of men and 17% of women age 65 and older use Google in a typical week

These stats should give your marketing team something to think about. What is the age and gender of your current donors? Typically, religious nonprofits donors are women age 65 years or older. So, is a Facebook or Google strategy a priority for your organization?

Or, is it more important to develop a strategy to identify new younger constituents using these methods?

Not sure?

Consider talking to an expert in the industry to determine where the organization would see the best return on investment using social media.


Sunday, May 22, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Tablets

Now, admit it, how many of you, when you first heard about the iPad, either: A) didn’t get it, B) thought it was a stupid idea when you finally first saw it, or C) both A and B?

I admit that I was in the 'C' category. When I heard about the iPad and first saw it, I thought of it as a laptop computer but without the key board and mouse. Okay, I could see that with the touchscreen you didn’t need the mouse, but, I couldn’t get beyond tapping out my blogs instead of typing them out. My paradigm was my laptop computer.

I completely didn’t get it.

Neilson, the company that, among other things, tracks what TV shows we watch and consumer product penetration, came out with the figure that 4.8% of consumers in the U. S. own a tablet as of the first calendar quarter of 2011. The number in the fourth quarter of 2010 was 3.4% and this shows remarkable growth since the iPad launched in April of 2010.

But, even more impressive than the growth is that of usage or engagement. Not only are people spending significantly more for tablets ($600+) than e-reader devices (such as Kindle or Nook) or netbooks (small laptop computers), but, the time they spend on their tablets via news apps for instance as reported by studies done by news outlets like The Economist and others shows significantly higher engagement times, 30 to 40 minutes per session compared to the same readers going to their Web site.

Tablets are evolving as media consumption devices that have a completely different sensibility than the Web browser on your computer that was developed by engineers for mostly non-media work – who thought of YouTube in the 1980s. And as a platform for the exploding development of apps, it marks a clear separation from the Web site experience.

And, just as news outlets, and now media companies like Discovery and Bravo, are building separate versions of their interface specifically designed to take advantage of the superior media experience of the tablets, so too nonprofit fund raisers need to think beyond the Web site. Why? Because this is how the people you want to reach are consuming media and are spending more and more time when they engage. And the ability to engage via multiple media in presenting not only your story, but your ongoing work and updates, offers engagement at levels not even thought possible by nonprofits.

It’s almost like your own cable channel.

Now there’s a thought.


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

Thursday, May 19, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Getting Beyond Today

Today is the pressure and fire of the moment.
We live in the urgency of now.

Years ago, a very successful friend gave me some advice. Take 30 minutes everyday to stop thinking about the pressures of the day and read something that will help you think about tomorrow.

I’ve got to admit that it is hard to impossible to do everyday. But, everyday I think about it, even when I can’t carry it out.

It’s made all the difference.


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

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

BIG's Blog: When Communication Gets Difficult

Recently, I was listening to a radio program on improving personal relationships using specific communication tactics. While doing so, I realized these same tactics could be applied to the work environment. The steps seem simple and logical, and are outlined below:

First step, identify the problem.

Anyone at any level of the organization can identify when something is not working – especially if it is affecting their job. This information may be brought to management to determine who should address the obstacle. But, the individual could use these same steps if this was an issue with a coworker.

Second, bring together those individuals, departments or vendors to discuss the obstacle.

It is important during these discussions that the group attack the problem and not the individual/s who are involved. Individuals typically take things personally and if you are attacking someone’s idea, project or department, emotions can block the success of solving the problem. If there is more than one issue breakdown, seperate the issues into separate discussions. If there are too many issues for one meeting, address those that could easily obtain agreement from those participating in the discussion.

Third, pay close attention to how and what you say during this process.

Present any positives to the issue/s first. Express appreciation for those things that are going well. When roadblocks occur during this process, someone (usually management, but not always) needs to act as the negotiator until the problem is resolved.

We all have a choice about what we say and how we say it. If you choose your words wisely, it will help to curb gossip, complaints and frustrations which should increase your organization’s productivity.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

BIG’s Blog: The Coming Postal Bailout . . . or Not

The Wall Street Journal’s lead editorial in their weekend edition The Coming Postal Bailout is a must read for every nonprofit fund raising organization in the United States that enjoys the USPS nonprofit postal discount.

“The odds of a multibillion-dollar rescue package went way up this week when Postal Service management reported a $2.2 billion loss for the first quarter, more than 25% higher than last year despite the economic recovery.” WSJ

Now, the casual reader of that statement would think, "Why worry, the feds will bail them out?" But there is more to this . . .

“the Postal Service expects $42 billion in additional losses over the next four years. Mail volume and revenues have suffered what Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe concedes are unprecedented declines since 2006, with projections of another drop of 20 billion letters mailed by the end of the decade . . .” WSJ

So, what would you do if you were trying to shore up the USPS? Cut costs, streamline the organization and automate to avoid insolvency? Apparently that makes too much sense for the management of the Postal Service.

“Instead, Postal Service management recently concluded negotiations offering the 205,000 member American Postal Workers Union a new four-and-a-half-year contract that will provide a 3.5% pay raise over three years, dole out automatic cost of living wage hikes after 2012, and expand no-layoff protections.” WSJ

Does this sound vaguely familiar to you? Hint, think General Motors. Oh, well now you are thinking, “GM ended up carrying out their bankrupsy with government help and the Post Office is way bigger than GM, so this will all work out okay.”

Ah, you might want to think about that again. Yes, GM did fine as did the union. But, GM had a lot of shareholders and bond holders that didn’t do so well. In fact, they got crushed. GM got rid of a lot of debt and could essentially start over and begin to grow thanks to a huge infusion of tax payer loans. But, there was the assumption that GM would make money and always the expectation that GM would pay back the government loans.

The situation with the Postal Service is not the same. Just look at the two most important dynamics of the GM rescue. First, GM cut costs and second, pushed to increase sales, both of which had to happen if they were going to survive.

The Postal Service? First, they just raised their costs (80% of postal costs are for wage and benefits) and second, they are not even pretending that they can grow volume and revenue.

And what is the big issue in Washington DC these days? Isn’t it about how to deal with the ballooning deficit and the national debt? If you’re counting on a business-as-usual bailout of the Postal Service without significant restructuring of how the Postal Service does business; and yes, I am talking about either losing the nonprofit postal discount or outright postal increases, you are seriously underestimating this crisis.

“Thanks to the digital revolution, mail can be delivered with the click of a mouse and snail mail will continue to slowly fade away.” WSJ

This is very serious. If your organization generates a significant amount of your donations via direct mail, you need a new plan now and the good news is that there are viable alternatives.


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

Monday, May 16, 2011

BIG's Blog: Let’s meet today!

Have you ever thought about how much time is spent in meetings? Meetings are important, especially when your organization is in transition. So, if you could improve on what happens during your meetings, wouldn’t you want to know how?

In my last blog, I introduced the SCRUM communication method. The SCRUM method increases staff communication as the team evaluates the progress of a work project. Staff explains their personal goals from the prior meeting and what was accomplished since the last meeting. Then staff set individual goals and discuss what obstacles could stop them from reaching their goals by the next meeting.

A blog by Artem Marchenko gives an interesting perspective on how this method can help keep meetings short and on topic. SCRUM encourages team work as a value system, and through this process, increased productivity is seen within the organization: 7 Tips for Improving the Daily Scrum

I would invite those who read this blog to share with BIG readers how you might implement this method of communication within your organization.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Why Would Microsoft Pay $8.5 Billion for Skype?

Talk about two shocking news headlines that were both amazing in their dollar value, and yet polar opposite in their implications for nonprofit fund raisers:

The first headline, Skype Deal Reflects Microsoft’s Mobile Ambitions

The second headline, US Postal Service runs $2.2B Q2 net loss

Wow, here is one commercial company (Microsoft) shelling out $8.5 billion dollars for an Internet-based calling and video chat service that isn’t making money, yet, while the US Postal Service has another multi-billion dollar loss in their 2nd fiscal quarter. The USPS lost $8.5 billion dollars in fiscal year 2010.

How many of you use the USPS? How many of you use Skype? While I know you all use the USPS, especially in your fund raising, from my experience, I also know that a lot of you are using Skype or know someone that does.

Sometimes we just need to step back and look at the big picture.

For Microsoft, they can integrate Skype’s popular (170 million connected users and growing at 600,000 a month) Internet calling and video chat service into their Phone 7 smartphone line-up, plus leveraging it across its other platforms including Xbox 360, Kinect, Windows, Outlook and its Lync instant messaging service.

For the USPS, they can’t seem to figure out how to keep losing customers and mail volume. Their revenue dropped 3.9% to $14 billion in Q2 compared with the same period of 2010, and this after cutting work hours by 3.2%.

Here is the question for nonprofit fund raisers, especially those of you that are overly dependent on direct mail for your fund raising revenue:

Which is the communications platform of the future, the Internet or the USPS?

Hint: The USPS again warned that it will face a cash shortfall by the September 31 end of its 2011 fiscal year, and default on payments to the federal government without major legislative changes.

Honestly, do you have a Plan B if there are adverse changes that come down from the Post Office?

If you don’t have a plan, but think it is finally time to look at options, call us and if we can’t help you we will recommend someone who can.


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

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

BIG's Blog: A New Communication Method

My background in software development led me to read a blog about an IT communication method known as Scrum. I found the method known to be quite interesting. It is used to promote staff flexibility when adapting to the changing business environments of software development.

After reading the blog, What is Scrum? The Five-minute Explanation for Folks Not Yet Practicing It, I realized that this communication method could easily be adapted to any organization.

As nonprofits address organizational challenges brought on by social media, the Scrum method could help improve the communication between departments, managers and staff.

In my next blog, I will share more information regarding how this method is used to improve communications within the organization.


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Make Your Presence Felt in Social Networks

Is your community or organization dancing around, or should I say, holding off on using social networks like Facebook because you are worried or scared and feel you need to have a written policy in place first?

Might I suggest that you table the talk about policies and just start using Facebook or other social networking technologies first, and then after using them, get around to the policies later if you still feel the need.

But, don’t just take my opinion. Click on the link below and listen to the man who made the statement that headlines this blog, “Make your presence felt in social networks.” You guessed it, none other than Pope Benedict XVI himself.

“Make Your Presence Felt in Social Networks.”


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

Monday, May 9, 2011

BIG's Blog: Can I Ask 'Why?'

In case you do not read Seth Godin’s blogs, his blog yesterday on Share your confusions reminds me of my early days in fundraising. I began my career teaching nonprofits how to use the new database technology for accessing their data.

As I trained staff, I would ask questions about their department’s processes. The goal was to educate the staff so they could become more efficient and cost effective when using this new technology. Many times the discussion would lead to more questions that identified challenges with other departments within the organization.

There were times when staff would hand me a procedure manual to find an answer. After reading through the manual, it would leave me befuddled. What was written was contrary to what they were trying to do.

Through these situations, I would sit down with management and ask questions about their policies. The answer to most of my questions was, “We always have done it this way.” My response was, “Is it the right way to do it?" I did not necessarily have the answer. But, I did identify areas where possible changes should be made.

The digital world is new to everyone. But, as you build a digital platform for your organization, it may be helpful to have someone from the outside ask the question, “Why?” as you build your policies and procedures. It can help you see things from a different perspective.


Sunday, May 8, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Where do the Best Faith-based Fund Raisers Live?

There is no way I could keep our clients on top of change in the fund raising world if all I read were fund raising books and journals.

Here is a case in point from a recent article in the Wall Street Journal: How Many iPhone Developers Wear Wimples? For my faith-based, non-Catholic readers, a wimple is a cloth which usually covers the head and is worn around the neck and chin. Today, the wimple is worn by some Catholic religious women’s communities who don the traditional habit.

Sister Catherine is the prioress of the Benedictine Nuns of Holy Trinity Monastery in Oxfordshire, England, and though their main revenue source has been retreats, in the past few years they have developed a thriving business designing and hosting Web sites. Naturally, it was an obvious next step to begin developing apps for smartphones. Sister Catherine tells the WSJ reporter, “Our online outreach started as an expression in contemporary terms of traditional monastic hospitality. We provide a space there where people can learn something about the monastery and the things we do. They can interact with us; that’s why we have podcasts and video, etc. Certainly among the Benedictines, we tried to adapt the latest technology in every generation. We were very quick to adopt printing. I think the first book was Boethias around 1526 by monks in Glastonbury. That was the first purely monastic publication. And then in the 19th century, they all set up monastic printing houses.”

Here is the challenge to American faith-based fund raising organizations, both Catholic and non-Catholic; Sister Catherine says religion is always the early adopter.

Is your faith-based fund raising group an early adopter of new communications technology?

By the way, if you have trouble viewing the above article, drop me a line and I will email it to you.


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

Thursday, May 5, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Year of the Tablet

My right hand assistant, Michelle, has told me a number of times that I am woefully behind in not having an Apple iPad. My wife agrees. While they both have computers, more and more of their online time is through their iPad tablets.

Analyst and technology journalists are already calling 2011 “the year of the tablet.” And marketers are validating the prediction by launching mobile marketing apps and Websites, as well as planning search and display initiatives to attract consumers using a growing range of tablet devices.

It took Apple nine months to sell the first million iPhones. Apple launched the iPad in April of 2010 and sold one million in the first month. For all of 2010, they sold 18 million iPads.

You think something is happening here? Remember when all we could talk about was how cool it was to have personal software like Word or Word Perfect or Excel? Now, with the proliferation of smartphones like the iPhone or Android-based phones, all we talk about is apps. And tablets like the iPad use apps, not software like computers.

Yes, tablets are very different from computers. Forrester Research is predicting about 50 million US consumers will use tablet devices by the end of 2012 saying, “Tablets will grow as fast as MP3 players.”

I picked up my dry cleaning last week and they asked me if I wanted to download their app. My dry cleaners!

The last fund raising conference I attended, not one person was talking apps.

Time to get an app for your organization?

Better to develop a plan first.


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

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

BIG's Blog: A sign of the times!

For the past five years, I have encouraged religious nonprofits to incorporate video into their ministry. Whether it is an update on serving the poor in Africa, praying a novena or rosary or sharing a story about a seminarian or an aging priest, the organization needs to build a personal relationship with its future constituents and strengthen their relationships with their donors.

Some of you have integrated this into you website; others have not. For those who have not made a move yet, I will say it again. Adding video to your communication strategy is no longer an option. It is now imperative.

Take a look at this YouTube video — Digital Rosary marks sign of the times.

Any Catholic who spends time on YouTube may now purchase a talking rosary with Blessed John Paul’s voice. This is one example of where our ministries and outreach programs are going. Some may laugh at this gadget, but, it is the sign of our times. What does this mean for U.S. religious nonprofits?

Most nonprofits are concerned about the growing number of new nonprofits in our country. The statistics are daunting. Now, with the Internet and YouTube, religious nonprofits could be competing with Catholic orders and lay religious nonprofits from around the world. How will your organization's mission capture the attention of a future or current donor?

Social media is not going away. Now is the time to strategize regarding how your organization will grow constituent support into the future. Let us partner with you to develop a plan to integrate new communication strategies.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Change Is Hard

You, my faithful blog readers, are to be commended for putting up with me when I hammer away, week after week, about the coming transformation of fund raising. Really, I know I can sound like a broken record, but we really are “in the moment” of a very significant time of change.

Recently, I was talking to one of our clients who is in a religious community and she was worried that we would grow frustrated with how slowly her organization adopts change.

This got me thinking about an interview I read with Condoleezza Rice sometime back on how she had to deal with getting a slow and ponderous organization – in her case the U. S. Department of State – to change to the new realities of the world after the terrorist attacks of 9/11.

She was asked what piece of knowledge from her academic career she found most useful in the State Department.

“I found it useful to remember that most institutions don’t want to change. They’re institutions because they’ve developed a certain set of traditions and norms and expertise, and change is hard. A lot of work I’ve done as an academic affirmed that usually institutions change when they’re failing. It’s very hard to make change when they’re succeeding. They take the cues too late from the environment. The question is how do you get a relatively successful institution to respond to really new challenges.

I found three things helpful. One is that you paint a picture of other times that the institution has responded to change and difficulty successfully. Secondly, [it helps] if you can find in the institution a counter narrative that supports the direction of change. And finally, you have to look to see whether there are impediments to people doing the right thing. Mostly in good organizations, and the Department of State is certainly one, people want to do the right thing – they don’t want to be obstructionist – but sometimes there are things that make it hard for them to do the right things.”
To what Ms. Rice says, I would only add that Leadership is key.


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

Monday, May 2, 2011

BIG's Blog: What is your plan?

Professional marketing and fundraising associations are all talking about multi-channel marketing tactics and the need to integrate social media channels into fundraising efforts. Their educational efforts are meant to help nonprofits. But, one area these programs have not addressed is how to create a plan for integration.

In many of the nonprofits I have worked in or supported as a vendor, the internal departments, such as public relations and IT, never met with the development office. This lack of interaction poses numerous problems.

In the past, the development office's requests of IT would include: help in purchasing a new computer, finding a database solution or uploading web content. But, things are becoming more complex—especially if video is added to the marketing mix.

Then, there is the relationship between the public relations department and the development office. The communication and development directors rarely sit down to discuss what is going on in each other’s departments. An example, the death of a priest would go to the communications director, but, not to the development office. Only weeks later would the death come up in conversation. This is a missed opportunity for fundraising.

The development and public relations offices need to work hand-in-hand to ensure that the message received through all communications is consistent with the mission. This is important for the development of constituents who may become donors to the organization.

If the organization is considering integrating DRTV, radio, Facebook and other social media channels, it is important to think through the process and determine the 'who, what, when and how' each medium is to be implemented and used.

The organization should develop a plan for integration of social media into the fundraising and public relations office. The question to ask, “Is this something you can do yourself or with your current staff”?

It is important to have leadership with the proper knowledge and skill-sets to implement new technologies. Are they capable of asking the right questions to lead the organization into the future? How will your organization communicate with constituents, not just today, but in the future? These are just a few questions to consider.

In order to develop your organization’s plan, you may need to outsource this process to the specialists. There is nothing wrong with identifying business partners to help you move your organization into the next generation of fundraising. This will provide you with more time to do what you do well while building the foundation for the organization’s future.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

BIG’s Blog: It’s All About Thank You

Who needs to say “Thank You” more than charities? Aren’t all fund raisers taught to get gift acknowledgments out quickly? Don’t we always hear someone at every fund raising conference talking about the importance of a timely Thank You?

Well, now comes a new book that all fund raisers should read entitled, The Thank You Economy.

But for now, just click on the link below and listen to an interview with the author, Gary Vaynerchuk. In the interview, Gary talks about the way companies should be applying social media to their marketing. I say it is waaaaaaay more important for nonprofit fund raisers.

After you listen to the interview, I’ll bet you agree with me. If not, I’d love to hear from you.

The Thank You Economy interview


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