Everything Is Perfectly Out of Control
Charitable work can be insanely intense. The buzz on the street is all about fundraiser burnout. The best and the brightest perishing because they gave their all.
Do you have a billion and one things on your mind? Is your way unclear? Are the problems in your organization happening because other people and other departments messed up big time? Do you and everyone else have long stories they can tell about everyone else and how all the chaos happened?
Something is off. If you are nodding your head at something that sounds like the beginning of a pharmaceutical ad, you might be suffering from fundraising fervor. Don’t worry, although it is contagious, I’ve got all the answers.
To recap, you’ve focused on your mission statement as instructed by every consultant on the planet.
- You’ve followed the proven techniques of market gurus and psychological experts who taught you how to reach the deepest level of the primordial human psyche to get strangers to feel so close to you that they naturally give with ease.
- You’ve followed the guidance on tracking data and segmenting your donor database. And throughout it all, you’ve followed best practices and procedures. It seemed like impossible work at the time, but you cleaned up the data, and it is pretty.
- You’ve thanked your donors consistently in creative ways. Even though there have been times of frustration, you’ve tackled dilemmas of board participation, and your staff and volunteers have your back 100%.
- You customize, test and analyze your communications and asks, and tweak them for optimum peak state to bring the donor bond to the next level.
When you began working for the betterment of the world, this is precisely what you imagined. Although you majored in the humanities, you have learned on the job what is equivalent to a human engineering degree.
It feels unnatural. You question why this level of structured order exists, but your workload is still unmanageable. You realize it doesn’t make sense. You’re right. It doesn’t.
The majority don’t work within well-oiled machines and do not have the capacity to follow the best practices listed above. You did not become an engineer for good reasons, and those reasons have not changed.
You’re working late. You don’t have time to delegate, and you’ve reached the point of accepting that everything is OK, because it’s entirely out of control.
This state of being is one of many possible reasons you’re starting a peer-to-peer fundraising campaign. Thereby, letting loose a decentralized system of fundraisers and donors, which relies on voluntary organic participation
Sounds insane, and maybe it is. The jury is out.
Yet, no one believed that Wikipedia would work which is now at a monthly readership of approximately 500 million, according to the latest Wikipedia article on Wikipedia. It was a laughable idea. Corporate executives laughed at it, and academics looked down their noses. Who would voluntarily monitor and track the accuracy of articles without being paid? Well, they did, and they still do. How could information be reliable without being reviewed by panels of expert peers? Well, information integrity is now widely accepted.
Some of the best systems originate out of chaos. They organically form into beneficial systems. When traditional sources of organized processes are not doable, those who are not mastering the system seek alternatives: eBay, Amazon, Napster — all used unconventional methods and became major players. Some won big and stayed big. Others won big, but exist now only as notorious memories.
Just when all the experts have human behavior mapped out to be so predictable is when the unruly shake the system and destabilize it. There is untapped potential in peer-to-peer fundraising. Its future is not foreseeable, and there are no guarantees. It might work well for you, and it may not. Its unpredictability is its highest potential.
Whether you are part of a sleek team or you are pushing your way through the chaos, keep your finger on the pulse of peer-to-peer because it’s a thing. Increase your familiarity and comfort level, even if you aren’t ready to commit. Find out what is working for your colleagues at other organizations.
Keep an open mind. Get into the eye of the storm early if only to get a close look. It’s the best position to be in momentarily when conditions are precarious and unpredictable.
If you're interested in learning more about peer-to-peer fundraising, check out the Peer to Peer Advanced Conference on November 4 & 5.