Reader comments on my ‘grumpiness’ last week got me thinking — and talking to Roger — about The Agitator’s editorial stance for the coming year.

We do wish we could be more positive about our sector.

We wish we could fill your in-box each morning with a terrific post about innovation, soaring nonprofit revenue, and knock-your-socks off retention and acquisition campaigns. Make every day a “You Deserve an Agitator Raise” day.

But we can’t. Maybe we’re tuned into a different channel than many of our readers. If that’s the case, you need to help us out … bring more of your successes to our attention. But only strategic breakthroughs, please.

Frankly, we’re not that interested in whether you managed to make a net profit on your umpteenth email appeal in December.

The fundamental reality of direct response fundraising (where we focus probably 80% of our attention) is that both acquisition of new donors and retention of current donors is declining. We are disappointing — failing to inspire and connect with — our donors, current and would-be.

Direct response fundraising is seriously broken. And incrementalism won’t fix it … indeed, might get in the way of fixing it.

We think fundraisers need to lift their sights above the weeds. As Roger says in his post tomorrow — discussing a somewhat radical proposition — We Must Think Bigger … And Demand Bigger.

I almost posted today on a routine item gleaned from the blog of Production Solutions, a very savvy direct mail production vendor. It was about mail package variations they believe nonprofits should be testing in the year ahead. Many of our readers would probably benefit from their insights. And normally I’d pass that along. [OK, read them here.]

But if that’s the sort of thing you’re most interested in, sign-up for their e-newsletter. Or check out one of the dozens of excellent blogs we list on our blogroll. They’ll tell you how to write better copy, or email subject lines. And, to be sure, that’s valuable stuff. I’m not knocking it at all. Roger and I, shameless sponges that we are, probably read more of these sources than most of our readers.

That said, that’s simply not the editorial direction we wish to emphasize, although we are certain to pepper our posts this year to some extent with ‘how to’ material.

We’re going to try to express the genuine alarm we feel about the state of fundraising. And we’ll try to deal strategically with the issues and challenges we see.

As Roger does in tomorrow’s post. And as we have with our recent series of a dozen-plus posts — not over yet — on Acquisition (look up that category on The Agitator website).

Yes, often, you can expect to find us grumpy.

We apologize if our tone sometimes detracts from our substance. We’ll try to watch out for that. As Sam Brown said when he converted from antiwar activist to Peace Corps director in the Carter Administration … don’t offend in style when you can offend in substance.

Still, we are alarmed … unapologetically. And we think you should be too.

It’s called The Agitator for a reason.

Tom

 

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