AFP Conference Roundup: International Fundraising Pro Advises Organizations to 'Get Sexy'
Fundraisers do the greatest job in the world. They transform capital for good and help people make the world a better place. But to maximize their impact, they need to take advantage of changes in the way people are mobilized and the plethora of tools now at their fingertips.
This was the crux of the message delivered by Jon Duschinsky in his session, "The Flat Philanthropic World," at the 46th AFP International Conference on Fundraising held last week in New Orleans.
Duschinsky is a founding member of the Cascaid fundraising group in the U.K. and founder of bethechange, an international network of independent fundraising and nonprofit specialists.
Today, nonprofits can actually look ahead toward the world that they want to see tomorrow and help people create it, thanks to the amazing tools that are at their disposal and that, 20 years ago, people couldn't have dreamed of.
These tools have made it possible for individuals — like countries and companies before them — to be their own global brands.
But getting a handle on the "flat" world — where technology has taken the physical boundaries off of personal and business interactions — requires something of a mind shift for organizations. A few things that Duschinsky said have changed are:
* The world where companies and organizations shout messages at the masses is gone, replaced by a world where customers and donors are demanding dictators.
* Individuals have the capacity to change the world and choices in how they want to do it. Donors want to see how the world is becoming a better place thanks to them.
* What used to be a triangular relationship made up of donor, charity and beneficiary now is a direct relationship between donor and beneficiary, facilitated by a platform (hosted by a nonprofit, such as a Web site).
* Boundaries that used to exist between the first sector (government), the second sector (business), the third sector (nonprofit) and even the fourth sector (media) are beginning to blur. Now charities are saying, "We can be media too. We can tell people what's going on in the world."
* The charity business model is changing as well, becoming more like for-profit businesses, with many organizations now creating programs that make profits to subsidize the work they're doing.
But nonprofits aren't the only ones blurring the lines, Duschinsky said. For example, Dove's "Campaign for Real Beauty" is an awareness and fundraising campaign centered around self-esteem spearheaded by the for-profit, which is owned by Unilever, one of the largest companies in the world.
Duschinsky said Dove chose this cause not just because of its affinity with the work it does, but also because it looked around the world and saw that it was a cause that wasn't being represented by any large organizations.
* The relative impact of money is dropping. Change is now affected through communities, he said. The difference between Live Aid and Live 8 is evidence of this. Live Aid was about monetary donations for a cause. Live 8, 20 years later, was about lending your voice to join in a movement.