Years and years ago, as our country grew, people began settling in various locations across this great country of ours. As these locations grew, so did the need to build towns, cities and states. Construction was a booming business and as time went by, new innovative building techniques arose. Small houses changed to sky scrapers, outhouses changed to indoor plumbing and it goes on and on.
Today, technology changes daily and what was innovative today, tomorrow will be outdated. Building techniques and requirements now demand precision and laws around it have turned into Rules and Regulations in regard to Building Codes and permits.
When pagers were the new hot item with a car phone in a bag for your car, has now turned into everyone carrying a computer the size of a small card in their pockets – everything worldwide is right at our fingertips.
However, the same is not true in the charity fundraising world. Many charities or non-profits have not kept up with the times. They still operate decades behind with outdated information and the reason is, there is no set of rules other than what the IRS publishes. There is no source of information that charities can go to in order to learn what’s new and innovative. There isn’t a Rule Book or Standard Charity Code. There is nothing for a charity to go to other than the tried and true “Error of our ways” or studying and learning from our mistakes.
There is a common term which I use quite frequently called “Broken Spoke” fundraising. What does this mean? Well, it’s when a charity copies or duplicates another charity’s fundraising event without knowing if the fundraiser they are copying was successful or not. They then repeat it but miss something the other charity did (a broken spoke) and their event fails or the result is even less successful. But yet, they will not go back and study it to see where they went wrong.
In my area of expertise, Fundraising, successful methods change day to day. Plus doing it day in and day out, while speaking to my counterparts across the country teaches me and our staff on what’s “Hot” and what’s not. Making a thousand mistakes but studying them and adopting new tactics and techniques offers our clients the ability to be at the forefront of a successful fundraising wave.
As an example, I recently met with a charity who has a large group of supporters is planning a fundraiser in the coming months. When I asked them what their “Net Profits” were, it was dismally low – nearly not worth even doing the fundraiser. Being inquisitive, I asked them what they were doing at the event to raise money. That is when they described 1970’s fundraising methods which are so outdated and ran into the ground plus it costs them 50% of the funds they are raising. Why you ask? Because they simply do not know any better.
In reality, charities are made up of people. These people are not fundraisers and live a full-time life, have a full-time job, with full time commitments and a full-time family – however at least once a year, they are asked to fundraise. When fundraising is simply the single most important aspect a charity must do outside of their missions, they appoint someone with no fundraising background to hold the single most important aspect function of their charity.
The other issue which is prominent still, which is one of those “Old Rules” or a charity myth that can easily be dispelled is that everything must be “FREE.” The evidence of success is all around them with large scale, multimillion-dollar fundraisers happening frequently. However, they refuse to follow those successful tactics.
Along with the “Free” approach, many charities believe that being 100% volunteer is a badge of honor. However, what they fail to understand is that in order to grow, you must have a full-time staff. With a full-time staff who are salaried, you are able to attract the best and brightest who can take your charity to new heights.
What’s the moral to this story – you must change with the times. You must follow techniques and tactics that other much more successful charities are doing. You must know what “Success” is and acknowledge what “failure” also is. You must be your very worst critic in order to grow. Learn from your mistakes, talk to professionals who know the correct paths you need to follow.
You must learn from success; you must learn from your mistakes and your must want to get better while attracting the people who can help you make that happen.
If not, you know the old saying “The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over but expecting different results.” It’s simply up to you.
If you would like more information or if I can help you in any way, please contact us at www.BWUnlimited.com or call me directly at 443.206.6121. We would love to help you.