Doing the Same Things

Doing The Same Things

It’s human nature. We find a formula that works and we repeat it; again and again. When my daughter was three she loved to say “Do it again, daddy.” Over and over we’d play a game that would delight her; but not forever. Eventually one of us would get dizzy or sick from running through the house, laughing all the while. Game over.

We see the pattern repeated everywhere. If it works, keep doing it. Hollywood, which has become focused more on bottom lines than on expanding entertainment quality and options, has mastered the profit curve of the sequel. Sooner or later, diminishing returns set in; usually around number 5 or 6.

If the event raised more money last year, we can surely expect it to do so again this year. Far too often in our fundraising, we continue to do what has worked in the past assuming that it will continue to deliver into the future.

Malcolm Gladwell in his new book, David and Goliath, says that we expect most things to behave in a linear way: more in yields more out. He shows us, however, this is not the case. He calls it the “inverted U”. For a while the growth staggers us. Then it slows. Then it plateaus. Finally, it begins a slow decline.

Fundraising systems that depend for their success upon repeating a well-honed formula ad nauseam eventually plateau in what they deliver. Continue long enough and you’ll see the slow decline. More effort expended year, after year, just to maintain what was once almost effortless.

Principle 8 of The Eight Principles™ is Invest, Integrate & Evaluate™. Fundraising that is sustainable and continues to scale doesn’t depend upon a set formula or recipe for it’s success. By adopting the right paradigm, and consistently evaluating the processes you have chosen and adjusting them as necessary, your organization will avoid the dreaded “inverted U.”

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