Friday, January 31, 2014

BIG’s Blog: It’s About You – Part 3

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 Part 2, I observed that more and more fundraising leaders were admitting they need to bring in younger (more online savvy) staff because they realize online is the future. This is a 180-degree turnaround for the vast majority of DDs I spoke to last year at this time. Last year only the early adopters were new and younger staff. This year the online mentality has gone mainstream.

And, speaking of “mainstream,” the third trend I am noticing is that social media is now mainstream in the minds of the Development Directors I talked with.

A year ago Facebook was still “iffy” to a large segment of Development Directors. Many of them had a Facebook page but were still worried about controlling the message. More than one of them told me “We are just concerned that someone will post something that didn’t have a sign-off.” While others voiced that it wasn’t important since it doesn’t raise money. What a difference a year makes! This year the conversations with the majority of Development Directors were more about how to make it work for them … not avoiding it.

This perceived trend on my part syncs up with what is happening in society as a whole. According to Pew Internet Research, in 2013 43% of Seniors – those defined as age 65+ - are now using social media and 72% of all Internet users are on social media.

I have written this before, but if I were back in the commercial world and using social media, I am not certain how effective social media would be in driving sales. But for nonprofits whose focus should be on “relationship development” … social media is a no-brainer.

So as we move into 2014, the real issue for nonprofit fundraisers will be: How do they learn to leverage the inherent relationship building power of social media to accomplish their financial goals?

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