The case against the case against innovation

I’m a big fan of Jeff Brooks and the Future Fundraising Now blog. I love that Jeff is a straight talker and is brutal in his views on crap fundraising – just check out the stupid non-profit ad series on sofii if you are not sure. He delivers wise words every time.

Apart from today with the case against innovation.

You know that innovation is my favourite topic so I couldn’t let this one go without comment.

Jeff talks about his experience of developing a purely recreational web project not intended to persuade or motivate any action. But If you don’t know what you are aiming for; what success looks like – how will you know when you achieve it?

Doing innovation for the sake of it or just because you can or because you are trying to be cool is an error. For starters it gives innovation a bad name, associated with wacky brainstorm sessions complete with green bean bags and warm up exercises to make the best of us cringe.

Innovation should be about delivery of a good idea that achieves a strategic business need or solves a business challenge, for example developing more effective processes, selling more ‘stuff’ or raising more money.

I agree that flouting convention and developing something new is hard. It’s much easier to just do what you have always done. It’s less hassle to just coast along. As fundraisers our job is not to just coast along. Our jobs are to change the world. And to change the world you have got to do something different.

Jeff says that there is a letter in direct mail fundraising because it works. Its convention. Good point. That doesn’t mean that convention is always right. You should be testing new things as well. New things that might even work better for some audiences.

If you want your fundraising to work you first have to get your basics right, be clear on your mission, develop your case for support, understand your donors and provide them with a compelling story that connects them emotionally with the cause, show then the difference their support can make, take care to thank them well and choose the channel best suited to their needs. Then from that place test and refine new approaches.

Fundraising innovation is about breaking down barriers to giving and making it more compelling and easier for people to give and that means trying out new ideas. The worst thing you can do is just stick to convention. Because that makes you like everyone else. To change the world you have got to do something different.

P.S. One of my favourite websites is le cool. It scrolls from left to right – Jeff perhaps you were just before your time….

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