Learn to Bounce rather than Break in times of change

February 6, 2017 Charlie Davenport


The Greek philosopher, Heraclitus famously said ‘change is the only constant’. Words that are hard to argue with when you take a look at the Non-Profit world. Mobile donations grew by a staggering 293% last year and online fundraising has sky-rocketed to $70 million annually, in Australia alone.

Audiences no longer want to simply donate, they want to viscerally interact with their chosen cause and feel part of our mission.  Multi-channel, donor-centric marketing is now essential to delivering the customised, immediate experiences supporters expect – and if we can’t deliver, they’ll swiftly move on to a cause that can.

Welcome to the fundraising revolution. A time of big data and even bigger disruption – which by definition, exists to ‘throw things into chaos or disorder’.

But what’s particularly daunting about disruption is the shift of power –  from the institution to the individual.   Technology has transformed the way people think, the way they behave and the way they interact with the causes they support.

Being a fundraiser in 2016 is a complex business – we need to be master storytellers, data analysts, salespeople and social media whizzes.  With the insight to pre-empt supporter motivations, the technology to run complex multi-channel campaigns and the intelligence to prove the impact we’re making.

But if we get it right, the payoff is worth the pain – the value of a multi-channel donor is 4 times that of an offline-donor.

Seems like a no-brainer, so why then, are we so resistant to change?

According to best-selling New York Times author, Michael Singer, the reason we fear change is that that it threatens our fixed ideas about how things ‘should’ be.

 In our heads, we try to create situations, that we think will make us OK, but when things start happening that don’t match that model, we get scared because it looks like it things aren’t going to work out as planned

But the nature of change is to keep on moving and things will eventually fall into place….as long as we can learn to ride the wave.

Where are you on the Wave of Change?

In the face of change, people typically go through 4 stages:

Wave of change graph

Stage 1: Denial: – ‘We’re fine just as we are, thank you. This is just a fad, let’s wait until it all blows over and we can go back to doing what has always worked’

Stage 2: Resistance (frequently accompanied by panic): ‘ What is happening? Fundraising has changed forever. This is a disaster. What are we going to do?   The sector is doomed.’

Stage 3: The Turning Point: ‘We’re still here.  Things aren’t as bad as we feared, they are just different.  Let’s find a better way to do things’

Stage 4: Success: ‘Things are different than they used to be, but look at what we’re achieving now!’

Right now, most of us are sitting somewhere between stage 2 and 3.  We’ve all realised that the game has changed and we should be thinking about the future, but we’re not quite sure of what do.

However, now, as always is an ideal time to get started.  After all, a vision without action is just a dream.

So, where to start?

  1. With yourself: The way you personally respond to change is mirrored in the workplace.  Do you always need to be in control?  How do you feel if things don’t go to plan?  Can you find ways to relax and let go of rigid expectations? We can pretend that the people we are at home and at work are two separate entities, but we’re kidding ourselves.  Just as the lines between the public, private & NFP sectors are blurring, so do our lives.  Take care of yourself.    You can’t lead a resilient team if you’re freaking out inside.
  1. Ride the wave: The Terminator was right ‘resistance is futile’.  Relinquish the need to fight what’s happening. And make sure you don’t get left behind -agility is everything when it comes to managing change.
  1. Make friends with Technology: The paradox of change means that despite technology being the cause of the chaos, it also offers the solution. Gone are the days of endless workarounds, painful queries and IT updates.  Investing in a multi-channel fundraising system will enable you to manage all your campaigns from the one place, view constituent data in a single screen and identify lapsing supporters at the click of a mouse.
  1. Become a change-agent: If we exist in a place of reacting and responding, we will never feel on top of our game.  What the NFP sector needs more than ever are fundraisers that can lead through change. Become a multi-channel champion, who takes your organisation into the next era of fundraising.

The post Learn to Bounce rather than Break in times of change appeared first on Blackbaud Europe.


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