Monday, August 5, 2013

BIG’s Blog: Is this you?

Is this happening in your organization?

Over the last 50 years, the missions of most nonprofit organizations and the fundraising departments have become estranged . . . not divorced, just estranged. Just like a husband and wife who are very close and loving from courtship through the honeymoon, then have their first child (and then another, and then another) even as the husband's career takes off,  and mom gets busier and busier with the kids. They don't talk as much about themselves but rather focus on their main responsibility; the husband on his career work and the wife on the work of being a mom.

They both begin to become experts in their own demanding fields.

It isn't that they aren't still in love; it is just that the demands of learning their own focus in life build a wall between them. Not a wall that will lead to divorce; they understand they are a family and they are committed, but a wall of separate culture . . . home life vs. work life.

Today, the demands for growth (or sustainability) in revenue to fund the expanding needs of the mission of most nonprofit organizations create a tension between Development and the mission side of the organization. This cultural rift has only grown over the last two decades. The good news is that Development, for the most part, has kept up their end of the arrangement. Like the husband building his career so his wife can stay at home with the kids, Development has met its obligations and demands for growth over the last 30+ years in powering the growth of the mission.

But now comes digital disruption.

The Internet changes everything.

The demands of the mission aren't declining, in fact, in the accelerating austerity environment of decreasing government funding, demands for revenue are actually increasing. Maybe your organization relies on private donations, but your elderly donor base is shrinking. Why aren’t you getting younger donors?

And for the fundraising department, the traditional modes of marketing and events that have built and sustained fundraising are failing.

Okay, so what are we going to do about it?

Well, first we are going to see if this is really a problem from the “real life” perspective of “real live” fundraisers or is this just the figment of my imagination?

To accomplish that . . . I am asking you to submit your stories and perspectives as well as questions and we will take them on.

At the bottom of every blog is my email address. Forward your stories, perspectives (especially if they differ from mine) and your questions as well as letting me know if you want to remain anonymous or if I can use your name.

As a conversation starter, is there a wall between your fundraising department and the rest of your organization?

Remember, the Internet is interactive, which means these conversations can go two ways.

Join us.
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