This week is all about what we need to do, collectively and within our organizations, to assure a bright future for philanthropy. I’ve gathered articles from some of the leading thinkers and researchers in the civil sector. This is important stuff — and one “Click-it” you won’t want to miss! Plus, as always, some great learning opportunities for you (scroll to the bottom).
Click-It: The future of fundraising: Why and how fundraising has to change. Veteran U.K. fundraiser Ken Burnett wants you to totally rethink how you do fundraising. He explains why in a series of five articles, beginning with this one. Much of the problem stems from chronic short-term thinking. Also absence of a service culture, which leads to a dreary donor experience. Here, Ken Burnett exhorts us to develop new standards of donor care. To invest bravely in people, systems and service. And to make donor retention a priority. I agree with a lot of what he says. But I totally disagree with what he says in the fourth article, Marketing was a mistake. I will no doubt be writing my own blog post on this as soon as I find a spare minute. You can get a clue as to my thinking here and here and here (a lot of what we rail against, IMHO, is semantics). Meanwhile, let me know what you think.
Click-It: The Future of Fundraising: Bright or Bleak? This is Roger Craver’s take, on the Agitator blog, of Ken Burnett’s article above. Roger is a noted expert on the leaking bucket that is a sign of colossal failure in the fundraising profession. I hope you know about this by now. You know, the 3 steps forward; 2 steps back that is occurring with a majority of nonprofits today when it comes to modest donor acquisition; then aggressive donor attrition. Roger offers us his (1) top 5 choices from Ken’s list of 11 indictments of the way fundraising is largely practiced today, and (2) top 5 factors that present the strongest case in favor of change.
Click-it: Three things your nonprofit needs when you need change. Speaking of change, Jeff Brooks of Future Fundraising Now weighs in on what it might mean to move from an attitude of “the sky is falling” to one of “let’s fix this now!” Even with a great attitude, what does it take to let go of the status quo when it’s no longer working? (1) Willingness to change – to take risks, embrace visionary leadership and secure buy-in from stakeholders; (2) Ability to change – to eliminate siloes and get rid of behind-the-scenes deal-making, and (3) Clarity about what needs to change; what doesn’t. Ask yourself: Does our organization need change? Then ask, can it change?
Click-it: Donor-Driven Philanthropy: How the Dreams of Donors are Reshaping Philanthropy (and Redesigning our Future as Fundraisers). Kay Sprinkel Grace, my friend and long-time mentor, saw the writing on the wall early on. This article from 2008 points out that today’s philanthropists have a vision for a better future. They want it now, not at the glacial pace at which many nonprofits move. If they can’t bring their dreams to fruition through us, they’ll take action without us — start their own philanthropies or, just as likely, their own social businesses. Among the reasons they’re dissatisfied include (1) redundancy/lack of collaboration of charities with similar missions, and (2) poor storytelling to show how issues are being effectively addressed. Increasingly, donors give to issues, not organizations. This makes impact reporting increasingly essential.
Click-it: It’s Not Just About the Money by Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry is a new book primarily about how to do major gift fundraising more effectively. It also speaks to the future of fundraising and how to inspire more passionate philanthropy. Begin by developing a culture of philanthropy in your organization that is centered around the desires of donors to make a positive impact on the world. If you don’t make donors your mission, why should they make your mission theirs?
Click-it: Donor Retention and Gratitude Playbook. Like all the experts above, I also want you to rethink how you do fundraising. It’s why the tagline for my blog is “Philanthropy, Not Fundraising.” Towards this end, I recently created a 6-volume set of e-books to help you create a brighter future – for you and your donors. The majority of nonprofits are doing a miserable job keeping their supporters, and they’re making their donors (and their staff) miserable in the process. A simple culture shift towards embracing an ‘attitude of gratitude’ can make a huge difference. I strongly encourage you to grab the reigns and commit to improving the experience for your donors. If you give to them, they’ll give to you.
When experts like Ken Burnett, Roger Craver, Jeff Brooks, Kay Sprinkel Grace, Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry are all speaking up on the same topic, fundraisers should listen.
Our not-for-profit sector is bleeding to death. The average nonprofit is losing support faster than they can find it. You’re paying a fortune – in staff time and budget – just to stand still. To alter the course of things will require taking decisive action to stem donor attrition. The status quo is limiting the great work you can do. And it’s leading to a generation of disillusioned, depressed and deterred donors. If the lifeblood drains out of philanthropy, what will that mean for the future of our planet?
All of these experts agree on one thing: You must understand and embrace the fact that it’s not about you. It’s about the donor. You must see that the donor is the center of your universe. You must show them you know them. You must do it today.
It’s said “it’s the thought that counts.” I encourage you to give some serious thought to where you want to prioritize your resource allocation moving forward. Think about what you might do to give your donors the experience they deserve. Donors are awesome people. They deserve to feel awesome about their philanthropy. Show them they mean more to you than they even thought they did. Don’t just do what people expect. Go beyond perfunctory thank you’s and one-time reporting to ongoing gratitude that delights folks.
Embrace your mission to help donors be the change they want to be in the world.
Learning Opportunities for You!
Click-it: The Power of Thank You- the basics and more. I’m once again offering one of my most popular E-Courses. IMHO if you’re not keeping more donors, you’re not thanking them properly. This course will turn things around for you! Once you ‘get it’ – and get your organization on board with it – it becomes just that simple. And that transformative. Today’s the last day to catch the Early Bird Discount here. You can add team members too, and it’s all delivered to you – guides, webinars, podcasts and all sorts of bonuses – so you can watch/read at your own convenience and on your own schedule.
Click-it: 50 Ways to ‘Move’ Your Donor: Stewardship Solutions to Get to Yes with Finesse. Having trouble getting around to the major gift ask? No more procrastinating! No more guessing! The Foundation Center and I will clear the air May19th with an intensive online Major Gifts Master Class. You’ll learn how to move your donor and get a novel, tried-and-true way to choreograph and measure your moves so you know exactly when you’re ready to ask.
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