Comfort Does Not = Innovation
If I had a dime for every time I heard an organization or an agency talk about innovation I would probably be very rich by now. I realize that we have an industry that typically follows what is working. We have also had success in resurrecting strategies used years ago that stopped working and after retesting — voila! — they work once again.
Let’s be clear — we are the masters of testing. We track every element. We take very few risks with our time, energy and donor dollars. But I believe that behavior, which is admirable, is also preventing us from true innovation. The definition of risk is pretty straightforward — “the possibility of loss or injury; someone or something that creates or suggests a hazard; the chance that an investment will lose value.” Based on how we typically manage nonprofit fundraising and marketing, risk is a bad thing. The definition of innovation is not as straightforward – “the introduction of something new; a new idea, method, or device.” The concept of coming up with something new, a new idea, a new method for fundraising inherently has risk written all over it.
In the corporate world it has set aside money for innovation and the risk is understood; it's called research and development — novel concept, eh? For the nonprofit world, this simply does not exist because donor dollars are tight and sacred. But in a time of necessary change for the industry — the need to integrate, the need to get closer to our constituents, the need to go from single channel to multichannel, the need to raise more money — staying true to yesterday’s strategies is safe but will not create the change needed.
So, let’s roll the dice and say, “We are going to innovate!!!” Great, what the heck does that mean?