Sean Triner ponders what we have actually learned from our experiences in the worst recession in living memory
So, a mixed bag really. Some charities used the recession, and grew. But most charities are still not doing what they should have been doing all along. All the evidence is there, the essence of what all the fundraising ‘gurus’ say is the same yet so many charities’ staff – fundraisers, boards and CEOs alike – won’t take the advice, or believe in their gut instincts over all the data because their donors are different.
Really the recession didn’t change much. Maybe it nudged a few of us, but what we needed was a massive shake-up. The fundraising world operates in an extreme Pareto environment – ie much, much more than 80% of all money is raised by less than 20% of charities. Statistically speaking, nearly all charities raise less than $1m, have no trained fundraisers on staff and make stuff up as they go along.
We really need to work together to reach these guys and gals properly. We are good at getting information out there – there are thousands of tons of books, courses, data, reports, papers, presentations and more – but somehow the message is still not getting through.
Many fundraisers and their bosses are still reluctant to communicate frequently with their donors, use the phone, use longer letters, ask and thank properly – despite the richness of information proving these techniques work for oh so many organizations. They are tempted by corporate fundraising, events and ‘raising awareness’ – despite the richness of information demonstrating how hard these techniques are to get working.
But maybe the message is getting through in some places.
From Ireland, Damian O’Broin says: “There has been a realisation (finally) that the notion that there’s a pot of gold at the end of the corporate fundraising rainbow, is, in many cases, simply a mirage.” Perhaps at the end of 2010 we’ll be able to report a different story. (full text).
(Sean Triner is co-founder and director of Pareto Fundraising and ParetoPhone).