My mission is simple: I want to exponentially increase revenues for nonprofits while dramatically reducing costs.
With “engagement fundraising”— a phrase I coined about a year ago.
What the heck is engagement fundraising and why am I introducing it as a “new” concept today?
First, engagement with donors is nothing new for nonprofits. Engagement is the act of engaging or the state of being engaged. It also represents having an appointment, a pledge, or a commitment. Words related to “engagement” include:
Second, I think fundraising is broken. There, I said it!
I think it’s broken because charitable giving has been stuck at around 2% of GDP for four decades.
I think it’s broken because there’s a tremendous amount of momentum behind outdated strategies that aren’t good enough to break past the 2% rut.
Note: You may wonder why some industries (including printers, software firms, CRM companies, data providers and even consultants) are propagating these decaying philosophies. Two reasons:
1. Because their very survival depends on that propagation.
2. Because they have not yet learned that there is a smarter way.
I think fundraising is broken because people keep doing things the same way over and over without enjoying any improved results. Face it, a fundraiser that might either be new to his or her position or might be leaving his or her position soon will find it easier to sign a requisition order to print and mail 100,000 letters that worked reasonably well rather than dig deep to find an imaginative way to raise more money at a lower cost.
I think fundraising is broken because a lot of the leadership still wonders if baby boomers are using the Internet despite all the evidence that they definitely are. Folks… I still get scowls at events from some attendees when I present my concepts. Fundraisers still disapprovingly admonish me saying, “Our donors don’t go online.” Good grief!
I think fundraising is broken because the younger staff members who know that baby boomers are going online have failed to embrace the power of the Internet’s efficiency and economy of scale to raise major gifts and legacy gifts. Instead they run around like ants only focusing their efforts and technologies on generating lots and lots of $20 donations. Oh what a better world we’d all live in if they would only stop for a moment to ponder the 80/20 rule and how its power can be harnessed to raise more money with less effort at reduced cost.
Need more convincing?
Consider this: Giving is stuck at 2% of GDP right? And almost every organization’s rate of retention is in the toilet, right? Then, since donation levels are constant… where are all the donors going if they aren’t being retained by your organization?
They’re hopping from one charity to another!
Because they want to give! They need to give! They are required to give! Or they love to give! But they aren’t getting any love back from the charitable sector. And that’s why they hop around giving money to one charity this year and another the next. They are hopping and hoping.
Hoping that they’ll finally find a home.
Hoping they’ll finally find a charity that loves them back.
Hoping they’ll finally find a charity that thanks them with genuine sincerity.
Hoping they’ll finally find a charity that welcomes them to their “family”.
Hoping they’ll finally find a charity that reports what they did with the money.
Hoping they’ll finally find a charity that doesn’t treat them like ATM machines.
I know we can do better.
Some fundraisers are already “getting it”. I’ve met them and they are amazing. They are doing it right with or without my help. They encourage me. They help me believe that the future is bright, that we can do better, and that we can drive down costs while increasing revenues efficiently.
I take my own medicine.
I am not afraid to “put my money where my mouth is.” I am not afraid to engage. The blog post you are reading right now is part of my engagement strategy with you. I’m committed to engagement marketing for myself and my business as much as I am committed to engagement fundraising for you. In fact, a few years ago, in the face of tremendous consternation, I completely revamped my marketing agency serving for-profits (including Fortune 500 companies) to become the game-changing software and fundraising firm we are today.
You aren’t afraid either.
How do I know? Because you have already read 757 words about engagement fundraising and you haven’t bounced! You know that it feels right. Deep in your heart you know that something has to change.
You know that we can do better.
You know that we can’t keep doing the same things while expecting better results.
You know that the Internet is powerful.
You know that the 80/20 rule works.
You know that there are major gifts to be attained and legacy gifts to be found.
You know that your mission is awesome and your supporters should be comfortable in your organization’s “home”.
You know that your organization can and should love its donors as much as the donors love your organization and its mission.
You know that your organization can and should thank its donors with genuine sincerity that brings the donors even closer to the dreams you both share.
You know that your organization can and should engage with donors in a way that welcomes them to the “family”.
You know that your organization can and should use the Internet along with traditional channels to report how the donor’s money was spent.
You know that your organization can and should provide true engagement that will help donors feel empowered and involved when it is convenient for them.
You know that engagement fundraising is the future of nonprofit marketing.
There is work to be done!
Charitable giving is not going to budge from 2% of GDP unless we do something new.
Donor acquisition costs are not going to decrease — unless we do something new.
The holes in your “leaky buckets” (exemplified by absolutely dismal retention rates) are not going to get plugged— unless we do something new.
Donors want to be engaged!
They want to be involved.
They want to be captivated.
They want to be engrossed— in your mission.
And the best way to do all of that is with engagement fundraising that harnesses the power of technology to provide scale and efficiency that simply was not available until now.
The world has changed.
Don’t fight it.
Go with it.
Put fear aside.
Exponentially increase revenues while drastically driving down costs.
Remember Newton’s laws.
An object that is at rest will stay at rest unless an external force acts upon it.
An object that is in motion will not change its velocity unless an external force acts upon it.
Together we can be the force that acts upon the unyielding 2% dilemma. Join me to change the world— with “engagement fundraising.”
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