Recently, I read a Fundraising Success Magazine article by Jeff Brooks, entitled, “Go On … I Dare You: Feeling brave? Here are 10 fundraising challenges for the new year” and it got me thinking. How many of us weigh the risk versus reward each day and take chances that no one else will take? Sure, there is merit in making calculated risks and then there are those risks that go against the current, fly in the face of all that is known to be right. Do we have the courage to venture out on a limb for the tasty fruit at the end of the branch?
When it comes to this article, I really like ideas 1, 3 and 9 in this list.
- Change ‘About Us’ to ‘About You’;
- Test something that makes everyone afraid; and
- Ask too much
How often do we focus on the donor before we craft our messages? How often do we mention their name or suggest that they are in control with the dialogue and conversations in which we engage with them on Facebook, Twitter, over e-mail or through our direct mail campaigns? Most often, and I am assuming here, we don’t see through the eyes of the end-recipient of the communications we are exchanging with our donors and supporters.
I really like the idea of testing something that makes everyone afraid. This has to be my favorite in this list. I am a person who likes to take risks. I enjoy seeing the horizon and finding a way to get there. I enjoy learning something new just by doing it and engaging in the process. My Web site, www.WillHull.com is a proven example of my learning style. By creating something with Photoshop and teaching myself the code it takes to function, I was able to create this wonderful addition to the nonprofit and public sector discussion and quite possibly my additions are something of value to this community. Of course it makes me afriad to venture out on a limb, but it makes me feel alive and much more accomplished than by playing it safe. Sure, as Jiminey Cricket would say, “I’m no fool. No sir-ee. I’m gonna live to 100 and 3.” But that doesn’t mean that I can’t enjoy life while it’s happening.
I am always doing that which I cannot do, in order that I may learn how to do it. -Pablo Picasso
You’ll always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. -Wayne Gretzky
Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly. -Robert F. Kennedy
And there’s more…
The point is, if you don’t get out there and try something that makes you a bit nervous, you’ll never grow. You’ll be confined to the “way we’ve always done it” mindset. Try something new, you’ll be glad you did. Even if you fail, you’ll learn from that and grow.
As for asking too much, Mr. Brooks, I find, says it best:
“If you’re like a lot of fundraisers, you live in terror of soliciting your donors too much. You believe doing so will cause some kind of angry mass exodus. After all, you get the too-much-mail complaints, and half the experts warn you that you’ll “fry the file” or otherwise cause deep damage. I’ve got news for you: I have yet to find a shred of evidence that more communication hurts — and I’ve searched for years. The only thing increased solicitation causes is increased revenue. Really.”
Getting out of your comfort zone may make you feel a bit out of place, but if we never got out of our comfort zone, we would all be living at our parents’ houses and still lost in the glory days of preschool or Kindergarten. Because we have new experiences, we tend to grow from them. We should reward incremental chances that are taken and fail; and, of course, those that succeed. We shouldn’t be caught up in a formula that has worked since before the time that you arrived at your current position. The world is rapidly changing. Technology is creating a great opportunity for all nonprofit and public sector organizations. The question is, are you ready to try something new? How about, and I am being facetious here, that Facebook thingy or e-mail? Are you ready to try it and see how it works?
Where would we be if we were still questioning the internet and its value today? Begin small and try something that you’re reading about at places like Beth Kanter’s blog or get out of your office and attend a local professionals roundtable or group discussing topics new to the industry, build connections and collaborate outside of your organization. Be one of the early adopters and benefit from the chance to learn and potentially succeed at generating more revenue, building a well-founded database and relationship with your supporters.
So how about it? Are you ready?