Leadership Series: Is Change an Uphill Battle?
Moreover, one does not need to have Bill Gates’ wealth, Bono’s global celebrity or Al Gore’s political gravitas to launch a charity or set a new direction for society. With the Internet, Web 2.0 and other online entities, it takes little effort.
For example, in 2003, three young men from California went to Sudan and later stumbled on a brutal civil war in northern Uganda where children were being kidnapped to serve as soldiers. Four years, two films and numerous appearances on college campuses later, these young men through their charity — Invisible Children — have helped ignite a movement among teens and young adults to raise awareness and money to help Ugandan children. Nearly 68,000 of their supporters in 15 U.S. cities held events on one day in late April to draw public and media attention to the plight of children half a world away. Their primary mode of communication? The Internet.
Or consider John Wood, a former Microsoft marketing executive who, while trekking in Nepal in 1998, happened upon a rural school in the Himalayas with only a handful of books. Through one e-mail to family and friends, he collected 3,000 books and returned the following year, rented a yak, and delivered the books to the acclaim of the students and local villagers. Today, the nonprofit Room to Read is building, staffing and stocking libraries for 10 million children in six Asian nations and South Africa.
Shifting the paradigm
Entrepreneurs like these are turning 60-plus years of nonprofit management upside down with innovative and sustainable programs marked by personal passion, creative communications and the ease of online fund- and friendraising via blogs, social-networking sites and peer-to-peer advertising.
To many nonprofit marketers, this trend might seem daunting. But it should represent an inspiring challenge. My organization, World Vision, an international Christian humanitarian agency, is responding by recommitting to focusing on the other two other trends — diversification and deepening. Our Donor Engagement team has developed a new model, based on building bridges with key stakeholders, including individuals and families; institutions and corporations; and communities of faith.