That may sound like a bad thing — being arrested and getting tossed out certainly are unpleasant — but the stunt put Bavaria beer in every newspaper and on every television news station in Europe and actually throughout most of the world. The women became national heros. Bavaria took a calculated risk and was rewarded with incredible publicity.
So Elischer asked, “Are you brave enough to take risk?” He offered these tips for taking risks in your fundraising:
- Identify the risk and understand it.
- Decide which risks are natural to take.
- Align marketing and budget risk.
- Embed risk in all your decisions and processes.
More than ever, Elischer said fundraisers need to:
- Have strong belief
- Stand out
- Create pride, energy and commitment
- Drive vision
- Inspire enthusiasm
- Energize people to transcend the bottom line
Then he shared his secret formula for success in 2010 and beyond: natural talent + insanely hard work + risk management + luck = success. “Never forget luck,” Elischer said. “Luck hits all of us. It could be a one-off chance event. Stay in motion to put yourself in the way of opportunity. Create your own luck.”
Elischer said you should try to break away, to listen to yourself and follow your heart. Trust yourself to take risks, the way Oakwood did with its Don’t Give campaign.
2. Baby and the bathwater
Like the old saying, “Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater,” don’t throw out the old fundraising techniques and best practices that work. The biggest thing of all is stewardship. “People remember how you treat them in tough times,” Elischer said. And right now times are tough. Stewardship is “the lifeblood of fundraising, and sometimes we take it for granted,” he said.
Donors want to know that their contributions made a difference. They want to be engaged and reminded and reassured. Elischer suggested sending real, personal letters to your donors because letters are integral to communication, build relationships, are personal, feel real and add a novelty value that keeps donors involved. He challenged those in attendance to make at least five donor contacts a week, driving the point home with the fact that Howard Schultz, founder, chairman, president and CEO of Starbucks, visits at least 25 shops per week. “If you’re out of touch with donors, you’re out of touch with your communications and your fundraising,” Elischer said.