“The Mediocre borrow. Genius steals.”
George Bernard Shaw sure had it right when it comes to our trade. So much great, tried and true creative and campaign stuff out there, but so, so difficult to lay your hands on it.
Enter SOFII, a new and wondrous web-based attic of fundraising creative and ‘how to’ wisdom that bills itself "The Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration." Take my advice: spend the ending hours of your Friday, or even this weekend, and rummage through it.
SOFII is the brainchild of venerable British fundraiser Ken Burnett, whom many will remember as the author 15 years ago of the fundraising best-seller "Relationship Fundraising: a donor-based approach to the business of raising money", and of the recent "The Zen of Fundraising."
Because I’ve worked both sides of the Atlantic over the past 30+ years I’ve come to appreciate the fundraising work — paricularly the creative — found in the U.K and elsewhere. So, for Agitator readers SOFII presents the opportunity to see many effective campaigns first hand, along with background information on "why", "how" and "how well" they performed.
I reached Ken at his home in Melrand, France last night (why is that so many British fundraisers live in places other than Britain?) to ask him why in the world he was taking on a project like this. He rather shyly admitted that it had no ‘commercial purspose" as in business model ’cause it’s free, then explained that "people coming into fundraising should know a bit of what has come before"…."this is especially true for emerging markets where it’s a shame and a waste to reinvent the wheel. And, further, Roger, I love looking at other people’s stuff, but it’s just so hard to get it."
I then called Jerry Huntsinger, dean of American fundraising copywriters and my colleague at CMS and fellow-traveler in this trade for 40 years and asked him to take a look at SOFII. Jerry was quick to say "I don’t think history is so important", then quickly added "there’s stuff here you won’t find in today’s fundraising magazines…great overview of campaigns…and a great thing for American fundraisers to check on what’s going on elsewhere. At the end of the day I look for trends much more than old stuff and some of the trends featured on SOFII ae quite good and should be tested over here."
And now for The Exhortation: SOFII isn’t a one-man attic. It will prove to be an amazingly helpful resource for all of us PROVIDED each of us does our part. That means contributing content (from all around the world) and offering Ken our suggestions and help. For my part, I’m going to make sure the best of CMS’ campaigns appear soon on SOFII and I hope you will do your part too.
Finally, since Ken, Jerry and I are older than most trees, I’m going to be asking fundraisers from the 30 Something Generation about their ideas for SOFII. Look for that soon in future Agitator posts.
You can register and tour SOFII –free– by going to the SOFII homepage and clicking on the address of firstname.lastname@example.org to get your username and password. Content on SOFII is updated frequently. A magnificent work in progress. Thank you Ken Burnett.