Leadership Series: Is Change an Uphill Battle?
Our hope is to change hearts on this side of the bridge as we seek to change lives on the other.
Trend 2: Diversification
Multiplying the opportunities that donors have for engaging with charities and beneficiaries, and broadening the channel mix charities use to recruit donors, are keys to combating disintermediation. Encouraging more donors to do more things with their charity partners is vital.
Nonprofits’ diversification of revenue and resource-gathering streams has become vital. For many years, World Vision relied too heavily on one source of revenue. The World Vision Child child-sponsorship program annually has raised hundreds of millions of dollars throughout the world because it closely followed the six reasons Christian researcher George Barna believes people give to charities:
- impact of the organization’s work;
- efficiency with which the organization uses donated funds;
- presence of a compelling cause;
- donor’s relationship with the organization;
- personal benefit the donor receives by giving; and
- urgency of the need.
World Vision’s marketing efforts have capitalized on all of these motivators and presented current and prospective child sponsors with a real, tangible child who personifies poverty in the developing world. One cannot grasp the enormity of 3 billion people who live on less than $2 a day, but one can understand the needs of a 7-year-old girl named Deysi in El Salvador or 5-year-old Joseph in Chad.
Break the mold
Authors Chip and Dan Heath, in their book, “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die” (Random House, 2007), call this the “Mother Theresa Effect” — that is, donors respond better to individuals than to abstract causes.
Child sponsorship appeals to a large and vital group of World Vision’s donors. But diversification of opportunities has become a foundational strategy to engage donors who want to know more about the nations where we work and the projects we undertake to help the poor. Among the examples:
- Some are intrigued with our gift catalog, with items from a $75 goat to a $22,000 school construction project that allow people to make a donation in the name of a friend or relative.
- Others want to walk through “The World Vision Experience: AIDS,” a traveling exhibit depicting the lives of four children in Africa whose lives have been devastated by AIDS.
- Some will volunteer to assemble AIDS caregiver kits for those in sub-Saharan Africa serving people affected by AIDS.
- Others with a higher capacity to give have helped to fund community lending institutions from Honduras to Cambodia.
- Others partner through the Hope Initiative, an opportunity for Americans to care for widows and orphans ravaged by the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
- And nearly 85,000 new donors partnered with World Vision for the opportunity to help the 2005 tsunami victims in Asia.
World Vision has broadened its donor-recruitment channels from direct mail and television in the late ’90s to the Internet, event marketing, affinity partnerships, city campaigns, radio, retail and volunteer groups by 2007. Nearly two-thirds of our cash income comes from opportunities launched in the last five years. Today, we rely on non-traditional channels for more than 70 percent of our donor recruitment — a reversal of our 1999 numbers.