Monday, November 7, 2011

BIG’s Blog: Can Nonprofit Fund Raising Groups Innovate?

Since this blog is an up-to-the-minute reflection on not only my opinions on issues affecting nonprofit fund raising, but also what I am reading from others, it is only fair to share with you that the title of this blog – Can Nonprofit Fund Raising Groups Innovate? – is a hot topic in the current world of philanthropy. And the answer to this question will have a significant impact on the financial health of many established nonprofit organizations in the years to come.

When I talk about nonprofit fund raising groups innovating, I am not talking about direct mail package testing, or turning your electronic brochure of a Web site into an interactive Web site, or of starting to use social media. These activities are merely either marketing creative iterations or adding media. Innovation in the sense I am using it is: People creating value by implementing new ideas that are new to the world and have never been done before and fundamentally change the organization.

We’ve all heard the old saying, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” And the necessity today for fund raising groups – especially established fund raising groups that today are overly dependent on direct mail – is to develop new cost effective fund raising methodologies.

Today, there is little we don’t know about making direct mail fund raising a profitable fund raising methodology. I have met with many fund raising groups that are so successful with their direct mail fund raising for annual giving that they do no major donor solicitations. Their only non direct mail fund raising program is bequests.

While I would be the first to say, “Direct mail has been a great ride,” I think we all know that train is coming to the end of the line.

We have all heard about the “disruption” that the digital revolution has brought to other industries . . . the music business, newspapers, television and even brick and mortar retailing.

This digital disruption is taking direct aim at classic direct mail fund raising.

Can nonprofit fund raising groups innovate? That is what I am going to be blogging about this week.


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