Wednesday, May 7, 2014
BIG’s Blog: Is it the Best of Times … or?
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,”
No, we’re not going to rehash Dickens,’ A Tale of Two Cities, but the title pretty much sums up how fundraising leaders are feeling today.
How do I know? This is the time of year when all the proposals we have sent out for our summer term e-learning program get read, sifted through, and people start calling and emailing. Plus we are still getting proposal requests. So, sorry if we have been hard to get ahold of … busy time.
But this gives me a lot of good-quality phone time with fundraising leaders.
Okay, so where does “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times” fit in?
There is not a single Development leader I talk to who doesn’t understand that “online” is their future. But most believe NOBODY has figured out how to generate significant dollars online. Oh, online donations are up year-over-year, but that’s just the transaction mode. We send them mail appeals, but instead of sending us a check, they go online and donate at the Website. It’s just more convenient to donate online.
But back to “best of times, worst of times.” You’ve probably already figured out where I am going with this.
It is the “best of times” because our average dollar gifts are up and because we are setting yearly bequests records. You are setting yearly bequest records aren’t you???
But our “worst of times” come from the fact that our donor files are growing older and shrinking. Outside of a handful of organizations that are fairly sophisticated with their mail analytics and can actually continue acquisition mailings, the vast numbers of direct mail fundraising programs that continue acquisition mailings are getting older and older first-time donors.
And as Bill Jacobs of Analytical Ones points out, “when you take the lifetime out of lifetime value … well, you get the picture.”
Simply put, you need a new fundraising business model that is, first, built for the Web and, second, designed for younger generational cohorts, beginning with the baby boomers.
The Internet is a “new thing.”
Sometimes we lose sight of that fact.
There has NEVER been anything like the Internet.
Yet we always look at something new through the eyes of what we already know. And, by the way, everybody does this. Case in point: roll back 110 years to the year 1904. There was this smelly, noisy contraption rumbling down streets and country roads.
What did people call it? Exactly, they called it the “horseless carriage.” Only later as more and more of these contraptions showed up did they start calling it the automobile.
I was talking to a Development Director this morning who reminded me of the definition of insanity. You know, “doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome …” He told me straight-out that he had to change the way he was doing fundraising to connect with younger generations. So why did that Development Director move? He said, “I’ve always believed that what you don’t know won’t hurt you, but I’ve come to understand that isn’t the case with the Internet and I’m counting on your program to get me there.”
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