Time for Fundraisers to 'Shift & Reset'
FS: What organizations are doing a good job in rethinking things, and what sort of things are they doing?
BR: Honestly I don't think any organization across the board is doing everything well. There are lots of organizations that understand parts of the challenge and own parts of the challenge and are working toward others.
American Heart Association began an extraordinary project a couple years ago where instead of just raising awareness of heart disease, which is very, very high right now, they started to really commit to what behavior change looks like. So how do you actually get somebody who's now aware of the fact that being active and eating healthier is going to have a measurable effect on you likely beating heart disease or not being afflicted with heart disease to start making those lifestyle changes — what does that really require? That's an extraordinarily expensive, time-consuming project that will take a while before they see success in terms of the overall mission, but they're committed.
I criticize Feeding America in the book because their hunger action month is all about celebrity awareness-raising and dollars raised, but at the same time, Feeding America deeply understands that their marketing needs to be related to the mission. For the most part, they communicate very clearly about how their job is to feed America, not solve the hunger crisis. That's very different than [an organization] like Susan G. Komen, who I get frustrated with because they are an incredibly effective, probably the world's most effective brand marketer hands down, no question, but the promise that they keep delivering is that they're going to cure cancer. I think if they changed that message and said that our job is to inspire and our job is to raise money, then it would actually open the doors for other organizations who are much more focused on things that relate to the cure to do their work. Instead, Komen and other organizations — they're not the only one — set themselves up in competition with other groups that are trying to promote different aspects of breast cancer. Pink loses its value. It becomes ubiquitous and nobody takes the tough actions.