Fundraising Myths: No 3: New shiny stuff has changed everything

How often have you heard it, “but hasn’t <insert name of latest techno fad here> changed everything”? Often from board members or CEOs. Or direct mail or face to face fundraising is “so 20th century”.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think that fundraising is somehow immune from the revolutionary changes in how people communicate over the last few years. The effect of the internet on fundraising has been profound over the last two decades. Mobile and social media are going to have a significant impact on how we talk to people and therefore on how we raise money and communicate with donors. But technological change does not mean that the essence of how to do fundraising changes. Building relationships, making the emotional connection between the donor and the cause and asking for money remain essential to any fundraising approach irrespective of changes in communication technology.(And no one gives to you because you are “cool”, which is just as well as let’s face it, if you’re a non profit you’re not going to be. Ever.)

The means people use to communicate and how they interact using them may change rapidly but they remain people and will respond to the same sorts of approaches they always did. And just because there are new communication channels doesn’t mean that old ones suddenly stop working. Direct mail is declining (in the UK) it is true but really pretty slowly. It is still the bedrock of many individual giving programmes.

No, changes in technology shouldn’t be ignored and new communications charities are opportunities that fundraisers should explore. But don’t forget what you know about fundraising just because of some new shiny gizmo that the cool kids are excited about.


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