What’s wrong with the Next Big Thing?

One of the most pointless and uninteresting things you can hear is that something is the Next Big thing in Fundraising.

Anything that’s being bandied around as a “big thing” is not a big thing. Not yet, and probably not ever.

You’ll know a thing is big when nobody’s calling it a big thing any more — but they’re just using it successfully to meet their goals.

Another way you can tell a thing is big is when people start claiming it’s “dead.”

The two Biggest Things in Fundraising today are direct mail and the house of worship collection plate. Saying so won’t get you a lot of retweets or invitations to speak at conferences. But they make all the hyped new “big things” look like tiny, mewing pipsqueaks. If you’re serious about raising funds, you’ll look into one or both of those truly big things.

There are other big things, some of them fairly new. Email fundraising is clearly a big thing, and getting bigger.

A few years ago, plastic wrist bands were the Next Big Thing in Fundraising. They were pretty big for a few organizations. But by the time hundreds of other nonprofits jumped on the bandwagon, chasing this Next Big Thing, it wasn’t all that big.

So next time you read a blog post or hear a conference presentation about the Next Big Thing, make sure your hype filter is engaged. And meanwhile, put your energy into the Big Things that nobody’s bothering to hype.


Comments

4 responses to “What’s wrong with the Next Big Thing?”

  1. This is really great. Thanks Jeff, to bring us back to reality

  2. This is really great. Thanks Jeff, to bring us back to reality

  3. You are so right Jeff. But the current term for “next big thing” is “innovation”. Fundraising Publications are looking for articles on the lastest “innovation”. Fundraising Conferences headline the latest “innovation”. What I find remarkable is how little discussion there is about results. Everything must be flashy and high tech, preferably with a social networking interface. But try asking for results and you become the evil, innovation killing, ogre in the room. Loved the video on QR codes…perfect example.

  4. You are so right Jeff. But the current term for “next big thing” is “innovation”. Fundraising Publications are looking for articles on the lastest “innovation”. Fundraising Conferences headline the latest “innovation”. What I find remarkable is how little discussion there is about results. Everything must be flashy and high tech, preferably with a social networking interface. But try asking for results and you become the evil, innovation killing, ogre in the room. Loved the video on QR codes…perfect example.

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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