Welcome to 2012 and I hope you have a happy and prosperous year.
But I’m worried about the year ahead for many of our most precious organisations – our charities and community organisations.
Yes we know times are still tough. But wars, famines and financial depressions have historically thrown up some dramatic examples of innovation and change. Needs-must, as they say. In easy times, why worry and why change? But when there is no choice but to wither, or get the thinking cap on and get inventive, guess what wins?
All of the above is generally true. But hasn’t it been obvious for years that the needs of communities are increasing whilst the apparent ability of that community to support good works is in decline. Or so it seems.
Maybe more of the problem is that many charities and community organisations are still so wedded to the apparently ‘safe’ and traditional ways of doing things that it’s just too difficult to change. Well I predict that 2012 is crunch year for the bust or change divide.
This year the economy will really bite many charities, not just because of the EU and Japanese savings mess, but mostly because of the slippery slope that has been the New Zealand malaise, finally catching up.
Where is the mindset stuck?
Too many charities in New Zealand have largely relied on large chucks of money delivered on a regular and reliable basis. Grants and large donations have required relatively low effort and don’t require the charity to do very much in return for the money, other than to spend the money appropriately and responsibly. However many of these money sources are either in decline or are simply so overwhelmed by demand from more and more requests that a crisis is happening before our eyes.
What’s the solution? In the US, 75% of charitable donations come from small donors. In this country it’s virtually the reverse, so there is too little history of charities having to bother about attracting support from large numbers.
What I see happening is many charities flaying around in search of new, easy money supplies but failing to realise that the new reality requires them to work assiduously on building what I call a “community of support through active engagement.”
Peer2Peer (P2P) public fundraising and volunteering is proven to work where a charity presents its work as a good cause and some hard work and marketing skills are applied to build it over time.
Am I being too tough on the unchanging charities? Maybe. There are many charities doing it well with some having thrived through P2P giving for years. But for those charities, who do not heed the winds of change, I am not being as tough as the new realities and the economy will be in 2012.
BLOG POST: Selling your cause to the public
Fraser Carson is a respected communications and social media consultant, and commentator. He has particular experience and interest in community building, the not-for-profit sector and business development.