Friday, January 20, 2017

Donors Give to See Change- Why are we so Change Averse?

A clear 80 percent of donors give because they want to make a difference. They want to help the people you serve, they want to see a change in your organization for the better. So if donors want change, why are nonprofits so adamant about staying in the exact same place and doing the exact same thing all the time?

I'm not just talking about systems here, I'm talking about changing our mindsets too. Here are just some of the thing about our industry that continue to confound me:

The lack of attention paid to donor retention
The utter resistance to new technologies
Placing the organization first in communications, not the donor
The utter slaughter of new ideas because we make decisions by committee or "task force"
Valuing structure and harmony over creativity and innovation
Allowing personalities and personal preferences to override common sense
Focusing on tasks not strategy

There are many more I could add to my list. But these stand out to me today. I wonder aloud all of the time, and nonprofits who are not change and risk adverse succeed. But we always fall back in to our comfortable old ways, forgetting that what inspires us in the first place is one giving soul that wants to make a difference. We lose our focus, forget that this is about inspiring generosity, not just getting our work done. We forget that the donor is ALWAYS at the center of what we do and without them we would be extinct.

There are hundreds of reasons why NOT to change, but there consistently remains one good reason for change, it's the right thing to do. Change or face extinction. We need to start at the beginning, fostering risk taking behavior in our organizations and making our culture a safe place for something different. We have to hire differently too. Diversity in hiring doesn't just mean race or religion, it also means diversity of thought. Hire curious people. Make it easy for them to ask questions. Celebrate the odd idea, don't mock it! Examine other organizations that don't change and look at their lack of progress.  Push your team out of their offices, send them to professional development, even when budgets are tight. Then look at the trailblazers, enable and empower them to help shift your culture. It won't happen overnight, but it will happen.

How are you embracing change on behalf of your donors? What are you doing to overcome the same old same old? Tell me about your victories, small or large.... Remember your donors deserve it!



  1. I don't know if change will make it better, but to remain the same is simply not an option. Thanks for this message.

  2. People fear change--look around us. As a left-brain, process thinker, I recognize and embrace the creative people around me and always have to remember to listen and allow fresh ideas to be put forward AND to explore the possibilities.

  3. This is the blog I was talking about. Great seeing you at AFP Charlotte, keep up the great work, Armen

  4. Thanks for re-posting this blog. This is a problem faced by many fund raisers who are hired by organizations who think they can wave a wand and bring in a lot of money -- when in fact, the organization needs to change and/or improve its programs.