Tuesday, February 21, 2012

BIG’s Blog: Strategy

I get about a call a month from Development Directors or leaders of nonprofit organizations asking me about our strategy development methodology. This also tends to be the majority of my conversations at conferences, especially if they have run into one of our clients.

So much of the fundraising culture is what I term “Silver Bullet” oriented. Fundraising groups – and the one my wife and I help start is no exception – are understaffed. To compensate, the standard operating procedure is to add those technologies or services that make an immediate impact on fundraising without increasing the workload. Well, that’s at least how they are sold. Fundraisers want to believe that using a new tool, technology, or service will be the Silver Bullet to help their fundraising efforts. This “hope” also applies to consultants like Browne Innovation Group.

But back to strategy.

First of all, if you’re still not there, the fundraising world, along with many other sectors of the economy have been “disrupted” by the Internet; you probably aren’t interested in a discussion of strategy methodology. Succinctly put, the Internet changes everything. And that means your strategy of direct mail and planned giving as your organization has practiced them for 60+ years needs a reset. That is where understanding a consulting company’s strategy development methodology is important.

As the leader of your fundraising group, you already know the world has shifted, but you also must have certainty about the process of changing course. Altering the strategic direction of your fundraising organization seems much harder than it ultimately is. We always fear the worst.

The strategy you develop must be simple and the goals few. This may seem counter-intuitive, but that is probably because most people confuse strategy with tactics.

As you might expect, arriving at the right strategy for your fundraising organization takes time, thought, discussion, and consensus building. There is no cookie-cutter approach. The tactics you employ in implementing your strategy, though important, are secondary and constantly changing, especially in the digital realm. But spending the time and effort to develop your unique strategy for your fundraising organization gives you the roadmap that other groups just do not have, and keeps you on course to revenue growth and sustainability.


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