Monday, June 25, 2012
Your Last Wakeup Call
2011 giving figures from the GivingUSA Foundation and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University already. If you haven’t, take a look. It’s not pretty.
Total giving, accounting for inflation, barely budged, and giving by individuals was essentially static. The data also suggests that at this rate of “growth,” it will take about ten years—that’s right, an entire decade—for charitable giving to return to its 2007 levels.
I’m an optimistic, glass-half-full sort of person, but there really isn’t any good news. Then again, were we expecting anything different? If you’re still hoping the charitable giving environment will somehow improve soon—even just a little—the GivingUSA results should be the last wakeup call you need.
Things aren’t going to change dramatically anytime soon, and if events in Europe continue to deteriorate, we may even face another global recession very soon.
But even during this appalling economic period, there have been organizations that have conducted great campaigns and found enormous success. We’ve seen many new donors get involved, and technology has given us countless new ways to connect with these donors.
We can be successful during this time, but organizations that have experienced success have heard the wakeup call. They’re not operating in the same way—but they haven’t simply retrenched either. They’ve embraced the environment and looked for new ways to reach out and inspire donors.
Technology is an important avenue, but it’s just one area we have to utilize. Marketing, branding, strategic planning, business planning, leadership and management—all those skill sets we always save for “another day” because of the demands of the present—it’s time to work on them. It’s time to reexamine our community and our donors and really get to know them. It’s time to go for the big idea—the innovative game-changer that you’ve always thought would energize your organization, but didn’t have the time (or nerve) to present.
Tough times call for new, creative (dare I say radical?) ideas and different ways of operating. That’s how a profession evolves and adapts. That’s how your organization will find success.
This is your wakeup call. We’ve got work to do.