Viewing entries tagged
Impact

Increasing share of heart.

Increasing share of heart.

I returned home yesterday from the annual Nonprofit Technology Conference in my usual state: Head and heart full, exhausted but invigorated.

Well, something's not right here.

This year's conference sparked a number of thoughts that I'll tackle in the coming weeks, but top of mind is the idea that I shared at my session yesterday: That despite all of our innovation, invention, energy, talent, and passion, the amount of charitable giving as a percentage of overall GDP has remained flat at 2% for the last forty years. I call this percentage our "share of heart."

On the face this data point seems rather mundane but it is quite striking -- and sobering -- when you stop and think about it. What this tells you is that charitable giving is essentially a function of economic growth. In good times, people give more; in bad times, people give less. This total overall giving is irrespective of the level of need, or the number of nonprofits, or the messages we send, or the hard work you do, or anything really. While certain nonprofits may surge ahead or fall behind, the most important factor to overall generosity does not seem to be generosity at all. It is the inscrutably complex black box called the economy.

The public has a heart, for certain, but only a small share of it goes to the nonprofit space. And over forty years we haven't increased our share of heart at all. As the number of nonprofits grows, the only thing that keeps nonprofits from directly stealing or losing share from one another is economic growth -- growth that, as we've seen over the last five years, might hard to predict, or worse yet, small, or worse still,  actually negative.

To truly realize transformative change we need to come to grips with this mathematical reality and have a hard conversation about why our share of heart has stayed constant. Perhaps we need better salaries, relaxed overhead restrictions, and more advocacy, and all of those might help. But my sense is there's something deeper going on here. Either the general public is hard-hearted and there isn't much share of heart to be had; or what we do isn't perceived as the most effective way to effect social change. Since I do not believe the public's sympathies are tapped out, for my part I've concluded that the impact we're making just isn't compelling enough to elicit more donations. 

And that conclusion led me to my other 2013 NTC sound bite: The fundraising silver bullet is impact. The best fundraising strategy is not to persuade people that we could make a difference. We have to actually show people that we are making a difference. A longer road, to be sure.

I have a fair idea I'll be talking about this more in the coming weeks, but for some background reading I'd direct you to a few previous posts from the last couple of years here and here and here.

More to come.

Nationwide Impact

Camp at the San Diego Komen 3-Day for the Cure.

I'm really proud of the Event Fundraising team at Event 360 making an impact all over the country yesterday -- Los Angeles with United Way, Washington D.C. with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and San Diego with Susan G. Komen 3-Day. Not to mention around the White House in spirit with Invisible Children. Go mighty 360!

Ready for walkers at the Washington, D.C. St. Jude Give Thanks. Walk.

On the Mall with Move:DC.

Let's talk about you. There are two possibilities.

It could be that you have nothing to offer — no skills, no talent, no prospects, and all of the doubts you harbor about yourself are pretty much true.

Or it could be that the world has deep needs that you are uniquely qualified to address. It could be that you were put on this earth to be the exact right key for a specific lock of change that will remain tightly shut without your part. It could be that you are the precise bit of effort needed to push the needle of change on the human condition a bit more towards justice, equality, and happiness.

Which is it?

Notes from 2012 NTC - Day Two

The astute observer may note that I’m actually posting notes about day two of NTC on day three of NTC — take it as a sign of how packed day two was. 

Another long but fulfilling day of conversation. I spent an alarmingly large part of the day, and drank an alarmingly large amount of coffee, at the hotel restaurant, which essentially became the office for dozens of NTC attendees all day. There were times the waiters looked a bit annoyed with tables of six people spending $8 on coffee, but I know they made out on the breakfast and lunch tabs so hopefully it evened out for them in the end. 

Highlights:

  • Great meeting with Donna Wilkins of Charity Dynamics. Besides being an expert on social and mobile fundraising, Donna is an astute industry observer. I always enjoy thinking big thoughts with her.
  • Spent some more time with the leadership team at StayClassy, specifically planning for a fantastic new social impact conference later this year. Stay tuned!
  • Our team had a chance to sit down with Nyla and Amy from Mama Hope and hear about their take on development and how to turn it on its head. Exhiliarating and Inspiring.
  • Interesting meeting with Jonah from Altruicity — he’s trying to bring richer outreach and phone experiences to the space. Some potential applications for our clients.

I’m not sure if the above sounds like much, but that takes us to 6:00 last night and a very tired NTC attendee! A highlight of the evening was going with the kick-butt Event 360 team over to House of Nanking for dinner. WOW. Yum. 

Okay, no more procrastinating — I’ve got to put some final touches on my presentation for later this morning. Just keep swimming…

The presentation is being streamed live, so I hope you’ll come along!