Wednesday, January 29, 2014

BIG’s Blog: It’s About You – Part 2

This series of blog posts contains information I learned in conversations talking to Development Directors over the holidays, in between fielding calls and signing up people for the Winter Term of our online learning program. I had the opportunity to reach out to many people I hadn’t talked to in a while and catch up. In most of my conversations I tried to be intentional in asking questions about how they viewed their fundraising in the coming year (2014) as well as any trends they were noticing.

In Part 1, the trend I picked up from my observations was that Development Directors were talking about and actually using the words “disruption” and “innovation.” Those two words kept coming up in our conversations.

In today’s post, I’m going to share a topic of conversation that most surprised me. These were the “frank admissions” by several Development Directors about needing to bring in younger staff and lieutenants, even some in their 20s and 30s who were digitally savvy.

It never ceases to amaze me that the most successful fundraising organizations also have leaders who are generous and self-effacing, as well as frank about their organization’s shortcomings. Although several came late to understanding and admitting that direct mail was not their future, they have since shifted gears and are moving. Clearly we are happy when that means that one of their first moves is taking our online e-learning program, as we believe that only accelerates the learning curve of their organization into the digital world.

One Development Director told me, “We really don’t have staff that understand how online tools and especially social media works.”

Another Development Director told me that she was retiring in the next three years and that she wanted her 40-something lieutenant to be the next Development Director. “I know she will have to figure out how to make online fundraising work if our organization is going to be around for another 20 years, but she grew up with computers, I did not.” she said.

Think about this: 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the World Wide Web. People who are just now turning 40 have virtually known nothing but the Internet all their working lives, and as they move into their 40s, they will also be assuming positions of leadership responsibility in fundraising organizations.

So the trend that I see starting in 2014 is the speeding-up of moving younger Development staff (in their 20s and 30s) into leading roles in digital initiatives within Development.


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