Friday, August 2, 2013

BIG’s Blog: Resist the urge to conquer the world

In the fundraising world, people always judge a Development or Advancement department by the total money that they raise. That worldview and thinking is dying with the industrial model that we have all grown up with. The Internet changes everything. The Internet can potentially connect you to everybody, but that is not the point. The point is that it can connect you to the right people.

The Internet becomes the great leveler.

In the pre-Internet world, a few newspapers, television networks, Hollywood, and publishers held the power to feed you news, art, and entertainment. They determined what you watched, heard, or read.  Then came the Internet. It became a platform on which anyone could publish in any media.

Then came “Search” (think Google). We . . . you and me . . . could, on a whim, look up anything . . . anything.

Up to now in the fundraising world, people would copy mail appeals, or some new event idea if they deemed it was successful. So, someone came up with a new tactic and everybody copied it, and then others copied them, and on and on. The same thing happened with Madison Avenue marketing and advertising.  Me, too . . . me, too.

But marketing tactics are fading in effectiveness, even if they are new. They are fading for the same reason that pushing messages at people is becoming less and less effective. With the always-on Internet-enabled world, nothing stays new for long.

So what are fundraisers to do?

Go back to developing relationships.

The ethos of people has changed. Nobody wants to be sold and nobody wants to be manipulated into donating.

Can people be touched . . . genuinely touched . . . by appeals from nonprofit organizations that are doing huge good in their communities, or the world? Yes, absolutely. But then why do only 6 of 10 first-time donors never give again?

Start with developing relationships around your mission. Can this be done with direct mail? Absolutely! Can it be sustained by direct mail? Doubtful.

Why doubtful? Because we are fast-approaching the tipping point at which people are turning off push-messages from INSTITUTIONS. Even if those institutions have a face. The face of an institution is still the face of an INSTITUTION.

People give to people, even if there is a cause behind the person. People want to hear from and know the story of the “face” beyond just another “ask” for funds.

The Internet changes everything. Now you can reach the world and put many faces on your cause . . . but resist the urge to conquer the world, because then your thinking is still mass. The new Internet world is intimate. That is fundamentally different.

First, develop relationships, and then the money will come.

Join us.
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