Who’s fighting change in the ways we raise funds?

Why is change so hard?

With direct-mail response rates dropping, donor retention getting worse, and fundamental demographic shifts coming at us almost as fast as we can notice it happening — not changing really is not an option.

But it’s so hard for nonprofits to respond to the changes that are happening to us.

Here’s a great look at the problem from The Agitator: Antibodies View Retention As Disruption

All organisms contain antibodies — cells in their immune systems that identify, attack and neutralize foreign objects. The same holds true for nonprofit organisms. Here the antibodies take the form of those folks who resist any innovation, change or new approach that differs from the traditional ways the organization has met revenue targets.

I think it’s worth noting that like real antibodies, the “antibodies” at nonprofits aren’t trying to cause harm. They really believe they’re doing good work in their change-resistant ways.

In fact, they’re half-right. Any change might be bad. On a statistical basis, that new idea is more likely to be a failure than a success.

That’s why we test. But my experience with nonprofit antibodies is they resist testing with just as much energy as they should resist wholesale untested change.

Are you a nonprofit antibody — keeping necessary change from happening? Look within. Maybe you need to recalibrate your approach. Your organization needs to be open to change — smart, tested, careful change. Staying where you are is probably fatal in the long run.


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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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About the blogger

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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