Monday, December 8, 2014

What's Next In Fundraising?

This is the 500 word piece of writing that won me a place at The Annual Lectures.

I read recently that we only spend a couple of hours each day actually working. Who has time to fundraise? Between countless cups of tea, checking my phone, Twitter, reading blogs, watching videos and crying in the bathroom, really there is very little time.

The next big thing in fundraising - and in everything, really - is actually doing stuff.

Talking about what a mess we’re in, attending conferences and reading ‘67 Ways To Improve Your Productivity’ isn’t going to cut it anymore. We need to start actually doing this stuff.

I love fundraising conferences. Genuinely, they’re like little holidays for me. But it strikes me as odd that year after year some of the greatest fundraisers in the world are telling rooms of people that we need to thank our donors. That we need to look after them. But when I mystery shop charities it still feels like someone didn’t get the memo.

We’re coming away from these sessions feeling invigorated and inspired, but then life, love and True Detective gets in the way. Are we to blame? Are we choosing an easy life over working - I mean really working - to do all the stuff we know we should be doing?

You know picking up the phone is more effective than sending that e-mail so why don’t you do it? You know handwriting a letter to a major donor will do more for you than reading yet another article on donor retention, but you don’t do it. Even this sentence...this one here...that you’re reading...right’s unnecessarily long and really doesn’t tell you anything...shouldn’t you have used this time to ask someone for money?

I actually blame digital for some of this. Even though I’m young (at least according to the Annual Lectures) I think digital fundraising is overhyped. It’s a method, not a motivator. And as long as humans are born and raised with physical contact and human love we are always going to thirst for it. It will always trump digital.

Instead, this new media has made it really easy, really convenient, to not communicate like humans. While we try to keep up with the latest revolutionary, innovative fad (“This will change everything!”) we move further and further away from giving humans what they require. All because it promises to be easy, to fix all our problems, and save us from having to actually do this terribly difficult thing called ‘fundraising’.

What’s next in fundraising? Let’s be brutally honest and admit we haven’t implemented half the classic stuff we should have. Let’s continue to learn what works from each other and from the greatest minds in fundraising. And then let’s actually do it. Let’s do it now, with the same level of urgency we impart to our donors.  We have to...there are so many people relying on us.

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