Are you getting lost among shiny objects?

I hate to complain about the success of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, but it has one huge downside: All the energy and time that’s going to be spent pointlessly trying to recreate it.

(See When you KNOW they’re going to ask, “Why can’t we do something like the Ice Bucket Challenge?” Also see What a weasel is going to tell you about the Ice Bucket Challenge.)

I think everyone who works in fundraising is going to be tasked with creating the next ice bucket challenge. That’s like being asked to create the next big lottery win, but that won’t stop them.

As the Social Velocity blog notes, nonprofit organizations really love anything new, promising, and dramatic: Fundraising’s Shiny Object Syndrome.

But shiny objects are not a growth strategy. It’s great when they work — most of the time, they don’t — but the real path to success is to keep doing your job, focusing on the basics and paying attention to what’s happening:

… instead of spending board and staff time trying to dream up the next ice bucket challenge … spend that time and those resources building your financial model, by creating a long-term financial strategy, raising capacity capital to build your revenue-generating function, developing a compelling strategic plan in which people will want to invest, and growing and educating your board.

That may not seem very “shiny.” But if you consider money to be shiny, that’s the way to go.


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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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