With so much attention paid to the end of a century, so much time
being spent looking back, isn't it time to look forward?
A client recently mixed optimism with despair: "I honestly believe
that 21st century opportunities for fund raising are as overwhelming
as the needs that must be met. But so much is changing so quickly,
I hardly know where to begin!"
I feel there are three essential areas around which to
focus our development planning for 2006 and beyond: Relationships,
Numbers, and Speed.
If you thought life
was moving fast before, don't stop, don't even blink! A revolution
was unleashed in the 90's that is taking over -- the increasing
speed with which all information is transmitted.
In 1979 I was overjoyed when my computer connection speed increased
100%. But it was so slow that I could still count letters as
they appeared one-by-one on my screen! Today the fastest telephone
Universal high speed access to the Internet is coming. Though
not here yet, we must think and plan as if it were already so. That's
how quickly things will change as speed and access increases.
Thanks to private and government programs, fiber-optic cable,
cable television modems, everyone will have high speed access
to the Internet and Email.
As a means of getting and staying in touch with identified
groups of individuals, the Internet is going to exceed anything
we have ever experienced -- the printing press, the radio, the
television. We must think and plan as if it were already so.
If you now receive 100 or 1,000 small donations each year, the
Internet makes it possible to gather 10 or 100 or 1,000 times
number! While 100 donations of $30 may not be a great deal for
you, surely 10,000 such donations would certainly get your attention.
and plan as if it were already so.
It is easy to suppose that the Development Officer at Cornell
picked up the phone and immediately called to thank their new donor
for his pledge. She responded to an investment in a relationship.
and every $30 donation is also an investment in a relationship.
For all its speed and numbers, our fundraising beyond 2006 will
fail whenever we neglect the cultivation of relationships with
our smaller donors.
Internet-based systems are the speedy tools
we must use to nurture and grow numerous relationships. The Net
helps manage the job.
Every development officer tends relationships -- a time consuming
process, limited in its numbers, that often moves slowly. Healthy
relationships require good communication. Email and websites, can
support donor relationships by providing easy access to information,
and swift, two-way communication.
True communication moves in both
directions. The essential Internet
opportunity for donor relationships beyond 2006 lies not just
its speed or number of contacts. Fundraising beyond 2005
lies in our capacity to hear and acknowledge quickly what numerous
donors may want to say to us. It is a future that is very nearly
here, and it is time to think and plan and respond as if it
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