Lord help the Lilliputians.

Judging from the excited phone calls along the grapevine, the blog traffic, the hits on the search engines and the comments of the 50 or so folks who make up the high priesthood of the online fundraising world, youd think that last weeks $60 million+ cash acquistion by Blackbaud of TheTarget Analysis Group and the financially undisclosed acquistion by Convio of Get Active is the fundraising equivalent of Doomsday.

I'll offer my opinion and share the thoughts of several of the principals, including comments to The Agitator by Kintera's Richard LaBarbera and Convio/GetActive's Sheeraz Haji, plus a number of pundits on all this in a moment. First some some perspective.

In reality, as a slice of the American Fundraising Pie, these firms touch a teensy, tiny albeit very visible, noisy, and growing part of American philanthropy. A vociferous eddy of less than $500 million in a massive $185 Billion sea of U.S. philanthropy.

A merger of any two of the capital gift development firms, say Grenzenbach Glier and Associates and Brakeley, would put into question BILLIONS as opposed to MILLIONS. But thats not flashy online stuff on which in our trade the gabbing grapevine thrives..

Of course, what makes this all so fascinating is rooted in the hype and hope of database technology and the internet. And the drama is fueled by those wonderful and struggling alchemists — consultants, early adopters, and fundraising pundits — attempting to turn the hype and hope into gold.

From the perspective of both the short term and intermediate term effects on American fundraising and philanthropy, these mergers and their imagined negative or postitive effects are about as important as a merger of Versace taking over Chanel would be to the cause of clothing the worlds naked and homeless.

Its all a matter of scale. And right now little of this fuss matters much when less than 25 cents out of every $100 in contributions comes from the systems the online companies offer; or to a bewildered set of development officers conflicted between the aggravating simplicity and limitations of Blackbauds Raisers Edge and the mystery, complexity, sophistication and promise of Target Analysis Groups offerings.

Having made the point about the importance of perspective let's take a tour of last week's reactions and the experts' prognoses of what all this means.

First I started with some of the folks who run the online consultancies and have a lot to lose or gain depending on how their clients are affected by the Convio/GetActive deal …

Continue reading “Gulliver's Travels, Shock and Awe, and Other Recent Phenomena”

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