Tuesday, November 27, 2012

BIG’s Blog: Re-Set 2

A lot of people will tell you that technology is changing the way Americans actually behave in their everyday lives... and they are right. For some of us, we can remember the pre-microwave oven world. Yes, we actually called it an "oven" because that is how the marketing and advertising people connected this new invention to what we understood as the appliance that cooked food. It was so new, so radical, that it had to be connected in our minds to something we already understood or we wouldn't get it. “Horseless carriage” was common parlance before we started calling it the automobile for the same reason. Do we think of either the microwave or the automobile as radical today?

Technology, especially communication technology, is radically shifting the way we do things...our behavior. Just like it is inconceivable to think about preparing the average family meal without using the microwave today, it is fast becoming inconceivable to be disconnected from our cellphone, or more accurately, our Internet-connected smartphone when we leave home. It is always on our person or within easy reach.

What are the implications? The most obvious is how we get almost instant answers to any question that we need to know or just pops into our head. We don't have to wait...we just ask Siri or type a query into Google. But the other side of that coin is that our connected device plugs into all kinds of time-fillers like Facebook, YouTube, or online games.

We gravitate to the time-fillers because we now have extra time based upon the radical shift in time-saving created by instant Internet access to a world of information.

So, even though we appear to have busy lives, the truth is that we actually have more discretionary time than ever before. It doesn't feel that way because we have bought into the "speed mindset." Instant gratification. And coupled with the consumerist mentality of always thinking we “have to have" the new-new thing, we are constantly on the run and our lives take on a hectic feel.

There is a group of faith-based charitable organizations that could play counter to this societal movement by stressing the message that there are things bigger and more important than our...let's be honest...”selfish" need for constantly satisfying our own desires. Chasing our desires is ultimately empty anyway, and deep down we all know it.

But for these charitable organizations, to carry that particular message, they have to engage "in the world,” not sit within a fortress keeping the world at bay and only sending out an occasional letter. Engaging the world means using the media of the culture of now, not the last century.

The "big idea" of the Browne Innovation Group's new program called Acquiring the Next Generation of Supporters is that you must radically change the way your organization engages prospective supporters through social media of all kinds, as well as creating your own media. I say it is "radical" because it is so different from the way you practice fundraising today. In fact, we probably need to change the name of what we are doing. Instead of calling it "fundraising," which puts the focus on developing a transactional relationship, let’s re-name it "friend-raising" to more accurately reflect the shift in focus.

With friend-raising, donations or revenue become a by-product of the relationship that is focused on the mission of the organization and the needs of the supporter who is joining your mission.

I realize the phrase “friend-raising” has been out there in the fundraising literature for some time, but it had no real meaning other than a pop culture tag that sounded cute. I mean, did anyone who used the term ever proffer a notion of really changing the "what and how" we do our job in fundraising?

What we are doing at Browne Innovation Group when we use the phrase "friend-raising" is connecting it to an idea of something that fundraisers can relate to. Just like the marketing and advertising people who helped launch the microwave oven 40 years ago, we are attempting to connect something fundraisers do today, just using a different approach. In doing so, our hope is that it won't seem like such a radical method.

There is always the concern that when we use a word like “radical,” it scares some people. But the truth is there is nothing radical about making friends through sharing your passion about your mission. What is “radical” to my way of thinking is to hold on to a method of doing something after it has been clearly proved to be ineffective.

Please check out our Website [ ] where you can learn more about our new online learning and online consulting program called Acquiring the Next Generation of Supporters. Our next group begins in January and there are still seats available. Let us know if your organization is interested.


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