Dear Fundraiser: What, exactly, is Your “Product”?

I’ve been reading Peter Drucker lately.  In case you don’t know, Peter Drucker was one of the first management gurus of the 50’s, and one of the most influential of all times.  As Mr. Drucker got older, he turned his talents to nonprofits, first opening a foundation for nonprofit management, and then donating his own time and energy to the social sector. His book, Managing the Nonprofit Organization, first published in 1990, was a seminal work in our field.

In 2005, just after he died, Bloomsberg News posted a fundraising challenge to the NGO world:  “Convert donors into contributors”,  Drucker had said in his last days.  “If nonprofit groups are to acquire more financial resources, those who give will need to feel more like participants.”

So, has this advice from the sage of NGO management held up? Are today’s NGOs creating more – or better – donors using methods of “engagement”?   It’s definitely the buzzword of the social-media decade,  but is it working?  Or rather, how is it playing out? (more…)

What’s All This Noise about Not Giving “Thank You” Gifts?

Recently, a small raft of articles have appeared about a new study, published in the Journal of Economic Psychology, apparently showing that offering a gift as a “thank you”  (what we in the industry would call a “premium” offer) can reduce the amount of money people will donate to your charity.

I found this to be old news.  But the press (and some marketing gurus) didn’t.   The top GOOGLE search on this was entitled “Charities: Don’t Thank Donors With a Gift! – Forbes”.Well, that’s the private sector for you:  making studies to “discover” what fundraisers already know. (more…)

Fundraising Into the Future – and BEYOND! (Part 2)

Last week I blogged about the digital revolution in fundraising, and asked whether it has “changed the game”, or only the “rules”.  (Or, as I would argue, not even the rules, more like the shape of the playing field and which ball gets kicked, hit, chased, or fielded).

Having finally gone Twitter (I know, I KNOW…) I’d say the biggest ‘revolution’ that social media has brought to the industry is… how many people without other jobs are now claiming to be someone “connecting donors to their causes” and “helping charities use social media to raise awareness and funds”.   In other words, biggest winner so far?  The industry.  But let’s see….


Fundraising Into the Future – and BEYOND!

There’s a debate in the fundraising industry about the future.  Not whether we will all have jobs;  no, everyone’s pretty sure about that. The world’s problems aren’t going away, and in fact we seem to be creating problems at about the same rate we’re solving them, so the world will probably need NGOs in the foreseeable future, (and they will need funding), but that’s another blog.

No, the debate is about the digital revolution.  First we had the “internet” (small “I”), then the Web, and now we have the portable Web – its called a “smart phone” in case you just climbed out of a cave – and a new place where people talk to friends and family, share things, even donate already, called social media, which right now is mostly Facebook and Twitter, but which will grow and diversify with Tumblr, and Pinterest, etc.

So the REAL QUESTION is this:  has the advent of the digital medium “changed the game” of fundraising?  Or has this simply expanded the methods we use to fundraise?   To put it in MBA terms,  do new digital activities raise *incremental*  income, that would NOT have been raised otherwise, if we couldn’t ask for donations over the Web or phone? Or is it just taking over the more tied-and-true methods?


Fundraising Almost Always Involves “Change”

In 30 years of fundraising, I have never come across any organization that has fully embraced all the types of fundraising that they could be taking advantage of.  In other words, almost every NGO I know “leaves money on the table.”

(I can hear all the fundraising consultants out there saying “Wow, that’s for sure!”).

So, what do we conclude? That to help someone (some group) raise more money, or to raise more money ourselves from inside an organization, we have to help it CHANGE.

The biggest opportunity any group has, is usually the one it isn’t (yet) capitalizing on [rather than improving an existing one]. So helping someone change how they see a task, or their job, or their budget, or their role, can help you raise more money. 

That sounds like a HUGE job. But it doesn’t have to be.  In fact, that is one of the three, simple things you can learn about change, that will help you create it.

But first a note of credit:  NONE of these ideas are mine.  Why should they be?  This is fundraising, and some the best ideas in fundraising are stolen. (more…)

Is Asian charity different than Western charity?

If you are just learning that the economic world is shifting focus from the West to the East, well, then you probably shouldn’t even be reading this blog. (You’re a *fund* raiser!) But as you know, it is. And the shift is enourmous.

The swing to the East is centered, of course, on Asia’s two biggest countries, China and India, but as countless Economist articles point out, many countries with LESS than a billion people (!) have a lot going on as well. For example, most people don’t know that Singapore, where I now live, boasts one of the world’s highest GDP-per-capitas: almost US$ 60,000 per person (one in six households has a net worth of MORE than US$ 1 million). However, Indonesia is still the region’s *largest* economy, despite having far higher poverty rates. The GDP-per-capita in Indonesia is only a bit over US$ 4,600 per person (almost 1,500% lower!). Conclusion: Singapore has LOTS of rich people. Indonesia has LOTS of poor people, but a fair number of RICH people, too.

So, if you were a fundraiser (which is a fair assumption, since you’re still reading) the question is — where should you be fundraising? (more…)

So you want to learn how to do fundraising, eh?

As 30-year veteran of fundraising, I get asked a LOT of, well, silly questions about fundraising. But the most obvious one that shows someone is just learning the field is: “So how DO you do fundraising?”

The (obvious) answer is: well, that depends on what kind of funds you want to raise. So the first thing you need to do if you’re starting in this field is to learn the nomenclature, the language. That way, you can tell the difference between a TYPE of fundraising, and a TECHNIQUE of fundraising. For example, a charity run is a technique. So is a $500-a-plate dinner. But each of these goes after a different TYPE of donor. (more…)