Sleepless in 2013?
JS: Valid point. Valid point!
JJ: Absolutely. John Rockefeller shared that you have to look at a gift as you would a high-grade investment, and part of it is our helping to share the joy of giving and making an appropriate request from a position of strength and not feeling like we’re begging. And doing it at the right time, making sure the donor’s ready so that when he or she or they are doing that processing, it’s an appropriate processing.
And I can relate to that silence. Once I was at an independent school and was making calls with the head of the school. I was the one making the ask because she wasn’t comfortable doing that. And as soon as I made the ask, she jumped in, “Well, I know that’s a lot of money; it’s probably too much.”
We had about 20 debriefs or 30 over a couple of years, and I never could get her past that, so I had to stop bringing her.
TH: (on the pressure to jump too quickly into the digital sphere): So your board and your younger staff want you to switch 100 percent to digital because it’s the future — and it likely is the future — but it doesn’t give you the ROI that you need. So what do you do?
What we’re seeing is that nonprofits are bouncing between two extremes — online triumphalism and offline defensiveness. And these are the people who continually circulate studies about the dominance of direct mail — you’ve seen these people, right?
So, both sides are wrong because they are incorrectly assuming a binary relationship between online and offline; it’s either one or the other. It used to be a one-channel response loop: I get mail, I write checks and I send the check back to you. And that still happens. We still see that with many, many of our donors. But gradually we’re moving into a multichannel response loop that blends online and offline.