Saturday, November 14, 2009

Something has got to give

This blog is keeping me awake at night lately. It feels like I'm letting you down by not updating it frequently enough. The good news is there are a lot of fairly decent articles that people seem to have enjoyed already here. If you are new to this blog you may want to click through. The links are below.

For now I'm giving myself permission to not worry about this blog for awhile. My focus is needed elsewhere.

My new job.

It is going well, I'm learning a lot and I love it. As you know with any senior management fundraising position there is a lot to do. Especially when you start in the fall and you need to take advantage of year end giving. There is also planning for 2010 to do. Learning how to use the coffee machine is important too.


SOFII is transforming the way we learn and share our work. For two years that website has helped me raise more money, stay inspired and learn about fundraising in other parts of the world. So I want to give back a bit. SOFII is about to relaunch a new website. Before we do that we need to raise about $80,000. My volunteer priority is to help SOFII reach more fundraisers by becoming self sustaining. You may want to give back too by making SOFII one of the top three charities you support? We are here for you.

I also promised a couple articles to people and have a few conference sessions to do. (The next one is at AFP Toronto Congress so be sure to say hi. I'll also be speaking at AFP International in April and would be happy to see you there too.)

By taking a break from the self imposed pressures of this blog I hope to set an example for you. As a fundraiser you can't single handedly reach the UN Development goals for 2015, by yourself! Its better to scale back and do what you do well.

But don't fret dear reader, there is still a lot here to dig into. Here are the few posts that stirred up the most controversy or received the most responses.

How to respond to the economic crisis

Are there too many consultants as speakers at conferences? (blog of the month last year in Professional Fundraising Magazine)

Get out of your comfort zone

How to become your organizations competitive edge

Is $400K a fair salary for AFP?

2008 Best of Learning List

My all time personal favourite though is:

The seven key ingredient to building a successful organization

When I started it about one year ago it was simply to learn how to blog and how to write. The fact that you pop in to read it, share it and comment on it is exceeding my expectations so thank you! I'll be back in the New Year with a new best of learning list.

Thank you for spending time here.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

My vision for fundraising in 2020

Fundraisers around the world are talking about how fundraising will change over the next ten years. These comments are being collected on a wiki site courtesy of the Management Centre in the UK. I caused a bit of a fuss yesterday on twitter when I questioned the lack of diversity in the responses.

Each of us is responsible for our own response. Here is my contribution to the discussion:

How will donors be different in 2020? And how will they be the same?

Donors are onto us. They know this game. Donors will continue to want to take more control over their giving by linking more directly to the cause and being more involved in our programs. Venture Philanthropy or Philanthrocapitalism is evolving faster than the charitable sector. I believe many donors feel they could do our jobs better. Sadly in many cases they probably can.

We need to rethink the traditional model of a charitable organization and more specifically the role of fundraisers in the relationship. We must be more entrepreneurial about how we do business.

Which geographic markets will emerge more strongly as sources of funds?

By 2020 the global south will be making significant in roads as the sector leader. This will be the result of a number of factors: the population growth, extreme need and the gap between the wealthy and the destitute. In general the fundraisers I have met from Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Pakistan are hungrier, more determined and less complacent than many fundraisers I have met closer to home. They are constantly looking beyond their organization to learn more. This determination will serve them well as the sector in the global south grows.

The global south is the new frontier of fundraising and since many of the smaller organizations have that entrepreneurial spirit and are not bound by decades of traditional ‘by the book fundraising’ – they are better positioned for impact and to respond to the changing marketplace.

By 2020 charities in the global south will have the competitive edge over larger North American and UK charities. Many North American and UK charities will need to see beyond the equator and learn from fundraisers in the south where the sector is advancing at a phenomenal rate.

How will technologies for fundraising be different in 2020?

Our work in the charitable sector is mostly about building relationships with people to find out if our cause aligns with their personal interests and values - if it does we offer them the opportunity to become engaged with our organization. To do this well we depend on various communication channels and networking. Most of these activities will be online in 2020.

It is fundamentally important for fundraisers to learn how to use online social networks not just to connect with each other and stay current in our thinking but to engage our next generation of donors. The internet is creating a global marketplace. Smaller organizations in particular are better able to respond quickly and adapt to this new medium.

“Communication” is no longer about sending our message out and hoping to get a donation back. It’s about a dialogue, providing a forum for discussion and being flexible and transparent enough to truly listen to what our online community is telling us. Successful charities in 2020 will need to be comfortable watching as constituents talk about us with each other!

In ten years we will still have direct mail, corporate giving, and personal one on one major gift solicitations. However, many of those relationships will start with an organizations online presence. We will be tested on line first before anyone agrees to having lunch or attending an event in person.

What other issues will be important for fundraising?

There are simply too many of us. There are too many charities doing the same thing. We need to be more efficient and stop duplicating services and administrative functions. We will need to set aside ego and territorialism and sincerely look at how we can partner with each other. It is time for true innovation and collaboration.

Environmental charities will exponentially increase their market share. But only the organizations that provide real solutions, working with corporations and government instead of advocating against. The global community* wants to seek solutions to environmental problems and the ENGO’s are the natural partners to provide support and answers.

In Summary

The fundraiser who will be on top of their game in 2020 will:

• Find the vision above exhilarating.

• Will be constantly learning and working to improve not just themselves and their organizations – but the entire third sector.

• Will challenge the status quo and constantly be asking: Why? Is there a better way? Does this make sense?

• Will cherish every dollar they raise as if it came from their own bank account and will spend it wisely.

In ten years I will be fifty one years old and will have been working as a fundraiser for twenty years. By then I hope to have made a small mark on improving the world for my children and accomplishing my personal objective to secure a place as a hero in their – what will be by then – adult hearts.

The only possible way I can do this is by responding to the change in the third sector as best I can and helping others do the same – for there is only one certainty, there will be significant change.

Thank you for spending time here.

*except maybe the current Canadian government but we can hold out hope!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

The impossible is possible

Like many families we use the internet for entertainment now. The kids usually find obscure video blogs from other countries and more episodes of Malcom in the Middle than I care to admit. When I have a gap and am looking for something to do I usually end up watching Ted Talks. (Although there was a not so brief spell this summer when I watched all seasons of Weeds online. Just to assure you I do know how to relax!)

Last night I discovered this gem. I've watched it four times and am now compelled to drop everything and share it with you.

I love this presentation for two reasons.

1. It surprised me

Hans Rosling looks like your usual geeky data guy. Yet he grabs me at the beginning and presents the data to a none data person in a compelling, entertaining and visually interesting way. Then at the end he completely blows my mind by doing something impossible and unexpected. Very 'sticky' indeed! Anyone who presents to people can learn a lot from this example.

2. It taught me something new

Africa is not the country I thought it was. It is progressing very quickly and ought to be admired. The same goes for other developing nations. We in the developed world must stop being so self centred. The data is telling us a fabulous story.

Put down your Sunday Sudoko and spend twenty minutes with Hans. He will blow your mind.

The impossible is possible.

Thank you for spending time here.