Over at the UK’s 101Fundraising, Matthew Sherrington has bravely shared his thoughts on the changes and trends he thinks will affect fundraising over the next five years or so.

His 12 insights from the crystal ball are well-informed, cover most aspects of fundraising, and well worth a read.

Two in particular resonated with me.

“Expectations of funders and supporters alike are changing, and are more demanding. They want more evidence of impact, more participation and engagement in decision-making, and more immediate feedback. People’s experience as customers in an increasingly digital marketplace is shaping their expectations of “experience” and “service.”

“The age of broadcast and controlled communications is over. Communications channels continue to multiply, attention spans are shortening as information and channels proliferate, and people are seeking out and “curating” their own sources of information that they are interested in and trust. Digital and disintermediation will disrupt charities just as it has media, retail and other sectors, with technology allowing people to find and connect with each other. “Brand management” is a thing of the past; content is king. This has implications for how organisations source quality and relevant content and make it available to people where they are, as they will not come looking for it.”

When I was first working in the nonprofit sector in the 70s, our organisations — especially in the advocacy space — were desperately needed interpreters of what was going on in the capitol, in the nation, in the world. We were highly trusted intermediaries, often delivering inside, specialized information because we were uniquely at the scene of the action. And people were enthusiastic about rallying around and connecting through us.

That special standing … that special place … perhaps even the need for us … is now deeply eroded, as Matthew’s two points above underscore.

My view is that nonprofits need to be far more attentive both to the disruption and disintermediation enabled by new communications channels and tools, and to the heightened expectations that donors have as consumers … demanding expectations of service, customisation and responsiveness fed and better handled by the best commercial marketers who lead the way in using those same new tools.

If our nonprofits don’t sharpen their overall thinking about their place in this new information ecosystem and service environment, then the job of their fundraisers — who are at the coal face vis-a-vis supporters, activists, members, donors, customers — is going to get tougher and tougher. Nigh impossible.

Even the best fundraisers can only do so much to overcome backward-facing organisational cultures and sell sinking ships.

Too pessimistic? What’s your crystal ball say?


This article was posted in: Breaking Out of the Status Quo, Donor retention / loyalty / commitment, Fundraising philosophy/profession, Innovation, Nonprofit management, Starting Over.
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.