Tuesday, May 22, 2012

BIG’s Blog: Perspective

At some point you are going to decide… or make a determination… that you need a new fundraising plan.

There is a large group of people… maybe you are one of them… that thinks “anyone” can do fundraising or “anyone” can do marketing. Is that you?

Setting aside fundraising for a second; do you really think that anyone can effectively market your organization? If you are right - and I am not saying that you are - then why do all those large commercial companies – for example McDonald’s, Boeing, AT&T and Disney – hire outside advertising and marketing companies? After all, they have way more in-house marketing staff than your fundraising group. Aren’t the people on their staff professional marketers? Absolutely. Then why do they hire outside expertise?

The answer is that in most cases they want an outside perspective. Any group… repeat… any group can become myopic or shortsighted. Every organization populated by humans needs an outside or a bigger perspective from time to time. That is why the largest and most successful organizations bring in agencies and consultants from time to time to give them a different perspective.

For nonprofit fundraisers – this is one of those times.

The changes in how we are all communicating, driven by technology, are reshaping how we all receive and deal with information. And the pace of this change is moving faster and faster.

This means that the offline media your organization uses to communicate is quickly losing out to alternative forms of online communication. We all know someone over sixty, or even seventy, who started using a computer or iPad and now spends more and more time communicating with others on that device. This is happening in large-scale and at an increasingly rapid pace.

Are you going to wake up tomorrow and find nobody is reading your direct mail fundraising appeals? Of course not. But if you think your direct mail appeals will be generating donations at the level they are today five years from now… you are NOT facing the reality of the situation.

For nonprofit fundraisers who are overly dependent on direct mail for a significant portion of their donation income… this is becoming critical.

What is your “Plan B”?

Many nonprofit organizations have engaged firms like Browne Innovation Group. You do have options. What you don’t have is a free pass. This is not the time to freeze up and do nothing.

You need the perspective that comes from thinking outside your organization.

I use the example that we are like ants crawling across the famous painting of the Mona Lisa. We are all so close to the work that we have no perspective.


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