Monday, May 27, 2013

BIG’s Blog: What is Innovation?

Is there innovation going on in the fundraising sector? Is mobile really the “next big thing” for fundraisers, or is it just another tool?
Fully a year ago, Tom Belford and Roger Craver, the co-authors of The Agitator, wrote a blog post essentially saying that all nonprofit fundraisers are doing is “iterating” or “tweaking” their current fundraising methodology and practices, not really innovating. And since that time, although they harangue and attempt to encourage innovation, even they don’t have anything new to add other than telling fundraisers to just do the basics better.
By definition, innovation is something new. The laptop computer was an iteration of the desktop computer. The laptop was just a portable desktop computer, not something new. However, the tablet [Apple’s iPad or Amazon’s Kindle Fire] was something new.
Think about it. The way fundraising organizations do fundraising… the actual fundraising business model… is essentially unchanged from 80 years ago. Oh, sure, you’ve added more modern technology, but that’s like saying you put an engine on your bicycle. It’s still just a bike with an engine.
Meanwhile, not only has the whole of our communications technology changed (lead by the Internet), but your current and potential donors have changed as well.
What is your underlying business model?
It is a transaction-based system. The process or methodology is to ask for a donation. You are judged successful or not based upon your number of donors and the donor dollars brought in at the end of the year. This is a transaction-based model.
What’s the alternative?
The alternative is a relationship-based system. The process is about building interested followers [followers on the Internet] and then developing relationships with these followers. You are judged successful or not based upon your number of followers. Will all followers turn into financial supporters? No. But will enough? Yes.
Where is a relationship-based system built? Answer: the Internet. Could the relationship-based system exist before the Internet? No.
Is this a different fundraising business model?
Is this a different thing?
Is it innovation?
Are other fundraising organizations adopting this new fundraising model?  
Should your fundraising organization be adopting this new fundraising model?
That depends.
Can your fundraising organization innovate or only tweak?
Join us.
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