Monday, October 21, 2013

BIG’s Blog: Giving up my Blackberry was Hard

Can we all agree that Change is hard?

We have purchased my mother a computer and walked with her step-by-step in how to use it to do simple things, like using email and finding Websites. She keeps saying it is too hard, however, and doesn’t use it. The same with the cell phone we bought her a few years ago.

Change is one of the constants in life, but at some point some people just don’t want to change . . . and it seems the vast majority of Development Directors fall into that category. Admittedly, most are over age 55, but age really has nothing to do with it.

I’m over 60 and you know what? There are a lot of elements of life today that I enjoyed more before the Internet . . . but I’m not sitting around trying to keep my finger in the dike of technological change. Do you really want to give up your laptop, your tablet, and your smartphone and go back to mail and landline telephones as our sole means of personal communication?

And for the core element of your fundraising strategy, you’re going to keep doubling down on direct mail appeals? Direct mail? Take a breath and step back for a moment. What part of the narrative of the struggling U.S. Postal Service don’t you get? You’ve heard of the coming rate hike? And somehow that rate hike won’t affect your mail program’s net margins?

Am I anti-direct mail? Of course not; I ran two large companies built on direct mail.

If your direct mail program is still generating positive returns, then by all means keep it going. But also . . . please . . . realize that there are forces at play that will eventually undermine the profitability of your organization’s direct mail fundraising program.

I get it that 100% of any group will not all adopt an innovation at the same time. I clearly understand that the adoption of any innovation is an S-Curve. But Development Directors walking and whistling into an unprecedented collapse of their major means of generating new donors as if nothing has changed . . . is just silly.

Two Facts that are Hard to Miss:

  1. Generational Shift: Though the Depression and WWII generational cohorts only make up 11% of the population today, they make up upwards of 85% of your supporter base.
  2. Technological Communications Shift: This is more commonly referred to as the shift from analogue communications to digital. Who is reading your direct mail? Answer: the aforementioned Depression and WWII generations. Everybody else, including the Baby Boomers, is online.

But this post isn’t about the Postal Service or the world of digital communications . . . it’s about people acting old and not liking the fact that the world (their fundraising world) is changing faster than ever.

I am flummoxed by the change as much as any of you . . . but I am not letting it overwhelm me. And please don’t think that I am some wunderkind early adopter; I refused to give up my Blackberry until I was forced to. Yes, I know . . . no apps on a Blackberry!

But “the facts” and the dynamics of our new online communications infrastructure (not to mention how Powerful and Cost Effective it is in reaching people) are undeniable. Want proof? I transformed my consulting practice into a 100% online model and, in the process, transformed it into an education and training organization. I also could afford to lower my price 86% from what I had been charging for in-person, on-site consulting, which lead to increasing the number of nonprofit fundraising organizations I helped by 533%.

But as Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) said, “I’m all for Progress, it’s Change I don’t like.”

Nobody our age likes change. But, come on, there are new online fundraising models that are 100% online. I just happen to think ours is the best . . . and apparently more and more fundraising organizations are agreeing.

Join us.
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