The Slow and Boring Path
About six years ago, the Lance Armstrong Foundation introduced an odd little item to the world: a bright yellow silicone wristband with its "Livestrong" slogan on it. Then the Lance Armstrong celebrity mojo combined with a teen fad. A mind-bending 70 million wristbands were sold. It was a genuine blowout that rocketed a small nonprofit to the highest levels of awareness.
It's what nonprofits dream of: a simple, powerful effort utterly changing the game, pole-vaulting you past decades of hard work — the fast and sexy path to success.
No wonder a sort of wristband fever struck the nonprofit community. Pretty much every development director started crying, "Get me a wristband!"
The first copy-cat wristband probably sold pretty well. And the second. But by the time charity No. 50 rolled out its wristband, the magic was gone. It wasn't that cool anymore, and the market was saturated with wristbands anyway. Wristbands are no longer fast and sexy. They're a mainstay of the unoriginal and ineffective path.
Everyone wants a breakthrough. Every nonprofit wants to leapfrog into the dominating position it knows it deserves. Everyone wants to travel the fast and sexy path. But breakthroughs are rare. You can try all your life and never get one — which is exactly the experience of nearly everyone. In fact, counting on the fast and sexy path for your marketing and fundraising is a lot like counting on the lottery for your personal finances.
Fortunately, there's another path to success, and it usually works — the slow and boring path.
It doesn't sound like as much fun as the fast and sexy path, but it's a lot more likely to get your organization where you need it to go. And there's a wonderful secret for those who follow the slow and boring path.