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Flip That Switch

The past decade has seen the proliferation of research that confirms what works in charitable fundraising and what doesn’t. And yet, so many well-meaning nonprofit organizations ignore the obvious and continue to use the same tired fundraising methods all the while complaining about the apparent dearth of available revenue.

A unique fundraising idea would be for these same organizations who are wedded to practices and philosophies of fundraising that work only marginally, if they ever did, to simply flip the switch and embrace what we know really works.

I don’t want to be too hard on those who work so tirelessly in our charitable organization for often the best of motives. Reluctance to change is a common human trait. This is where the young among us have a decided advantage.

Young can mean the organizational young as well as the individual. The older we get, the more comfortable we become, even at a subsistence level, the more resistant we are to seeking the new, the valid and the outstanding.

To paraphrase Seth Godin, we fail when we don’t exert the courage to abandon what isn’t working simply because it’s what we’re currently doing. But we’ve already invested so much in that approach, you say. Really? Continuing in such a scenario ceases to be an investment and becomes, instead, an unmitigated waste.

The unique fundraising idea here is to be like the young, nimble—even embryonic—organization that boldly tries new approaches. Allow me to shout out my good friend Peter Drury and Splash, the up-and-coming children’s water charity that he toils for, as a good example.

Principle 8 of The Eight Principles™ is Invest, Integrate and Evaluate. Sustainable, scalable fundraising programs are dependent upon leadership always willing to question the status quo.

Perhaps it’s not an idea unique to fundraising, but it’s nevertheless true: The young do have an advantage. It’s young in spirit, however. Alas, old codgers such as myself still have hope.

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