Leadership Series: Is Change an Uphill Battle?
Editor’s note: This is the third in a quarterly series of stories we’re calling “The Leadership Series,” where leaders in the fundraising sector speak to big-picture issues fundraisers need to think about, over and above the day-to-day details of their jobs.
For several years while I was growing up in India, I traversed the Himalayan Mountains with only canvas shoes on my feet and the bare ground for a bed. On those peaks, I gained an appreciation for two maxims that apply just as well to marketing as to mountaineering: Know where you stand, and know how to find true north.
Where is true north for charities in the future? Giving has grown by just 4 percent per annum since 2001 — a tad more than inflation. So many nonprofits are maintaining a steady idle but finding no thrust.
That’s why the years ahead will be fascinating for those executives responsible for raising resources in the nonprofit arena. For many, the fascination will turn into frustration, and their organizations will suffer. For others, the formidable uphill climb will enable them to reap new rewards, and in turn their organizations will experience explosive growth.
The difference will lie in how senior marketing executives direct their organizations’ initiatives in response to three overriding trends in nonprofit fundraising: disintermediation, diversification and deepening.
Trend 1: Disintermediation
The most significant trend facing the nonprofit sector is disintermediation — the increasing likelihood that donors and volunteers will dispense with nonprofit “middlemen” and go directly to the beneficiaries or advocates for their heartfelt causes. For marketers hiking the uphill path, this represents a major shift in the weather pattern. Those failing to recognize its importance — or worse, ignoring it completely — do so only at their own peril, and they place their organizations at risk.