Tuesday, July 24, 2012

BIG’s Blog: One + One = Three

Hopefully my title caught your attention. Where is this going?

It is rare that two separate authors writing about two separate subjects come together in the mind of the reader (me in this case) and are synthesized into a third idea that relates so clearly to the work that we do. That is what happened the past few days. Sunday and Monday, in an article by Doc Searls in the Wall Street Journal, and a blog by Seth Godin each contained nuggets that took me… and hopefully you… to a new place.

Seth Godin’s blog was about the importance of strategy entitled Strategy matters more than ever, a key theme you have heard from me before. Meanwhile, the article by Doc Searls addresses not only the shifting consumer (and donor) but the power to inexpensively communicate worldwide with people in a whole new way.

“Since the Industrial Revolution, the only way a company (nonprofit fundraiser) could scale up in productivity and profit was by treating customers as populations rather than individuals – and by treating employees as positions on an organization chart rather than as unique sources of talent and ideas.
The Internet has challenged that system by giving individuals the same power. Any of us can now communicate with anybody else, anywhere in the world, at costs close to zero… and do other influential things, with global reach.” – Doc Searls, author of The Intention Economy: When Customers Take Charge

“Sam Walton (founder of Walmart) was a huge success, largely because he developed a new retail strategy, not because he was better at running a store than anyone else. Local bookstores are in trouble, not because they don’t work hard or care a lot, but because they are saddled with expenses that used to be smart (rent for a local storefront) in a world where they are merely ballast.” – Seth Godin

Fundraisers are smart people. They know their fundraising organization is like the local bookstore but their real question is, “Where do I find a new strategy that works for me?”

We have a large direct mail fundraising client who sees that the future of direct mail appeals is fading. They are building a dedicated center to communicate via phone and Web-based communications with new and existing donors. We have a small women’s religious community that is also setting up a dedicated center to communicate with constituents and donors via phone and Web, and they plan to link up all fundraising operations with their priories worldwide.

Do you really think Sam Walton-types who are innovative don’t come from the charitable fundraising world?

Strategy matters and the strategies and plans are out there.

“Not changing your strategy merely because you’re used to the one you have is a lousy strategy.” – Seth Godin


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