As consumers we are now constantly connected, over two billion of us have 24/7 access to the internet and globally more people have mobile phones than access to electricity or clean drinking water.
We are now broadcasters with a choice of instant communication channels at our fingertips and as a result we have become more demanding expecting faster and faster responses. And the world is not slowing down.
This pace of change means that organisations, including charities, must also change and adapt faster than ever before to meet the changing needs of their audiences if they are going to survive.
Investing in new or emerging ways to fundraise is often perceived as risky because it might not work. True. If something is new there are no guarantees that it will work. However, there are also no guarantees that if you continue to do the same fundraising activities year after year that they will continue to work either.
Risk is thought of as the chance of something happening as a result of an action; charities are good at thinking they are not taking risks if they continue to do the activities that worked last year. But there is also a risk in not responding to change.
Life is inherently risky. There is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing. Denis Waitley
Henry Ford said, “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” I disagree.
If you always do what you have always done you will be effectively going backwards because the world is changing so rapidly.
New is perceived as risky so we fear accusations of being irresponsible and wasting donors money if our new fundraising idea doesn’t work. We tend to play it safe by replicating what other charities are doing.
Because we just copy each other the charity marketplace is crowded. We confuse our supporters with hundreds of coffee mornings, relays for life and midnight walks all competing against each other. However we are not just competing with other charities coffee mornings, relays and walks, but also with all the other things that people spend their time doing whether its playing Angry Birds or shopping or watching TV or going to the pub. So we need to be offering something different that stands out from our competitors.
In the corporate world a Research & Development budget is a fairly normal occurrence; A budget that is a percentage of total revenue as part of a strategic business plan with the objective of better understanding customers in order to develop and test new products and services to better meet their needs. A budget that may not even have an income target attached to it. A budget with some expectation that not everything that is tested will work.
However in the charity sector this sort of budget is rare. And if it does exist it is often disguised as something else, because in tough times a budget with no guaranteed ROI is the first one that gets cut.
But it is exactly now in tough economic times and an uncertain fast changing world, that it is even more vital for charities to invest in developing and testing new ways to raise money and awareness for survival both now and in the future.
So how do you make your case to get a R&D budget and keep it?
Learn how at, Taking Risks – where’s your R&D budget on Wednesday 17th October at 5.30.
This year 101fundraising is the official blog partner of the International Fundraising Congress (IFC), the world’s leading conference on fundraising. This blog post is part of a special IFC Blog Series, where we give IFC speakers a chance to share their wisdom before the conference. Attending crowdbloggers will get a chance to share their views after the conference!
Participating IFC speakers are Bernard Ross, Derek Humphries, Chris Carnie, David Cravinho, Maia Kahlke-Mikkelsen and Lucy Gower!