Monday, June 23, 2014

BIG’s Blog: Most are already dead


A huge number of long-tenured charitable organizations are already dead … they just haven’t admitted it.
This is especially true of some faith-based organizations and communities … especially some Catholic religious communities and even some congregations. Their leadership struggles against declining members, rising costs, lack of new blood (vocations), and, worst of all, a lack of vision.

If you are worried and want to take your organization’s temperature, go down the hall and stick your head into the Development offices. How many of the staff and leadership are over 55? How many over 60?

Do I exaggerate? Maybe, but only a little.

Is it any wonder that you haven’t had a new fundraising idea in eons that really made an impact? And why your Development Director keeps making their budget based upon Bequests?

Yet every year your Development leadership and some staff attend the same-o, same-o Association or Development Conferences or Symposiums. They spend all that money and what changes? Answer: Nothing!

And here’s the worst part: Your Development staff isn’t a mirror reflection of your base of donors … your Development staff is younger! Huh?

But unlike so many long-tenured Development organizations that are mired in mediocrity … or worse … complacency, some faith-based fundraising organizations are breaking out!

A few years ago their leadership had some “sleepless nights” after they studied the average age of their shrinking base of donors. They asked themselves, “What can we do to attract younger supporters?” They knew that part of the answer was moving online . . . after all, isn’t that where the world is now?

But here’s the big surprise: Most of the organizations to date that decided to break out are Catholic religious communities and charities (send me an email and I’ll send you a list).

These organizations actually decided to take the first steps to learn what they didn’t know.

Seriously, would you have guessed that Catholic communities and charities would be leading what is essentially a fundamental shift in how they think about and practice philanthropy/fundraising?

Catholics? Aren’t those the same people who, a little over a century ago, were saying things like “We don’t need this electricity thing, candles work just fine!”

And now they are in the forefront of a philosophical, as well as tactical, shift in fundraising.

Philosophical Shift: It’s all about creating the relationship first, then building community around a shared passion in the work/mission/ministry … and then asking friends to support the work. Not … begging for dollars upfront (transaction-centered fundraising).

Tactical Shift: Online is where people are today and where they communicate. If you are not 100% online with your fundraising efforts, you are losing everyday.


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