Friday, February 7, 2014

BIG’s Blog: How Does It Feel?

How many charitable organizations ARE NOT pulling in enough annual dollars to cover their organization’s overhead? That question goes double for faith-based organizations. AND BEQUESTS DON’T COUNT … because you can’t budget for bequests in any real way.

Blackbaud just released its 2013 Charitable Giving Report, and, from the highlights, they report that overall charitable giving grew 4.9%. They also reported that online giving grew 13.5% … but we’ll get to that point later.

Did your fundraising organization’s “annual” revenue grow at least 4.9%? And, again, don’t play games with bequests, because we all know the WWII and Depression era cohorts that have been … and remain … the vast majority of your supporters (upwards of 85% in some organizations) are passing, which means that now you are receiving an unprecedented number of bequests from this group of loyal supporters.

If you can say you grew annual giving last year, are you coming off of several down years? Don’t play the Wall Street stock exchange game where the market goes down 5,000 points in 2009 and the next year from this low you grow 1,000 points and sing, “the market grew 15%!”

Come on.

Of course you all know the problems, and the truth is most fundraising leaders are looking for a solution.

Be honest . . . what you really want in a solution is a fix that is kinda-sorta like what you already know and understand.

But what if “the solution” doesn’t look like what you have been doing for the last 20+ years?


That’s right, what if the fix … the solution … to your flagging fundraising doesn’t look like what you have been doing in fundraising for most of your career?

Join the Club!

Join the newspaper people, the music industry people, the retail industry, local and network television people … and on and on! Almost every segment of the economy you can think of has been disrupted by the digital Internet revolution.

Revolution? What exactly do I mean by revolution?

Let’s use the Sociology definition: a radical and pervasive change in society, especially one made suddenly and accompanied by violence.


I suspect you … like me … didn’t like that reference, “accompanied by violence.” But here is the good news: for your fundraising organizations it doesn’t have to be a “violent revolution.”

The answer … the solution … is right in front of you and the Blackbaud report featured it prominently. Online giving increased 13.5% from 2012 to 2013; the second straight year it has grown by more than 10%. But the growth among fundraising organizations was uneven.

Groups that raise LESS THAN $1 million a year chalked up the biggest increase at 18.4%, while those larger organizations that raise more than $10 million only saw online gains of 5.7%.

Again … huh?

Wait a minute. Why are the big-budget, large and established fundraising organizations being beat by the pipsqueaks of fundraising?


Somebody forgot to tell them that they must have direct mail to be successful!

But I overstate my case … right? After all, you still have older donors that still give when you mail. And thank God for that … right?

But where is your future?

Why aren’t you bringing in baby boomers, GenXers and Millennials to take the place of your senior citizen supporters in the future?

Come on, it’s not too early to put a fork in your old fundraising business model and admit that the Internet has already triumphed in fundraising. It’s time for established fundraisers to create a group within their fundraising organization that owns the Web and generates 100% of their support online.

So the question for larger and established fundraising organizations: Why can’t you walk and chew gum?

Why is it “a stretch” to believe you cannot A) learn how to be successful online with a new model, and B) implement a new model within your organization?

Of course, keep sending mail to your oldsters; it is what they expect from you and while they still can, they will continue to support you as they always have.

But OBVIOUSLY what you are doing now online isn’t gaining significant traction or resonating with “potential” younger supporters.

So if you just keep doing the same-o, same-o while these start-up fundraising organizations are learning what works and what doesn’t work . . . pretty soon they are going to be the big guys.

Remember, they just started; they only know what they are learning . . . they have no secrets yet. Except to be online!

“When you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose. You’re invisible now, you got no secrets to reveeeeeeal. How Does It Feel?

Props to Bob Dylan and Bro JB.


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