Leadership is more than a retweet

In my mind I see the old way of receiving information.

We sat and we listened.  Much like eating a meal, our mental nourishment was brought to us as if we were at a large social event.  We sat at the table and we all got a plate that looked the same and tasted the same.  If we kept showing up to the table over and over again, the ones who were able to repeat the cycle long enough and could re-create what they had been fed eventually got a Doctorate.  Our culture promoted these people and then asked them to serve the same meals to the next generation.  The leadership of this generation, of this meal, are having a hard time fitting into this new world of available information we live in.

The new world looks far less formal.  I'm not even sure there is a seating chart, it seems like it's "come whenever" type of meal.  The biggest change is that instead of sitting and being fed a repeated lesson, now everyone is bringing their own creative dish.  The internet has shifted our learning process from a formal meal into a potluck dinner.  Everyone now has the right to share and contribute in some way and we are delighted by the various options.

The leader who learned to sit the longest and take good notes is uncomfortable with the chaotic feel of the potluck event.  These leaders disapprove of people not seeking their opinion, gaining their approval, and then receiving their permission to share.  To keep control they occasionally lash out at early adapters, these leaders are quick to scrutinize how someone else made a dish or how they placed it on the table, which is ironic because they haven't contributed a creative dish of their own.  In reality, neither title nor position today makes one an authority on the internet tomorrow.  

Leadership is not found in a retweet, that just makes you well fed from the old banquet style of learning (ie. eat, regurgitate, eat again, regurgitate, and so on).  The new form of leadership is taking the risk to put your own thoughts and ideas out there for us to see and to collaborate around how the idea can be better.  Those are the leaders we want and that's how one earn's the right to lead the next generation of leadership through the fantastic medium of the internet.

As a leader are you contributing or do you just want to tell others the correct way to participate?

Photo by Alan Light

The dramatic change in relational fundraising

There is a big change occurring in relational fundraising.

A wise pastor once told me, “As the leader your investment in fundraising is telling stories.” But the way we share stories is greatly transforming. The sharing of stories and fundraising through the mail in written material has been slowly fading away. Organizations and people adapted to "Relational" fundraising. Relational fundraising is exactly as it sounds, investing in donors relationally so that they are connected to people instead of just giving money. Many of us are beginning to feel like these connections are not as charitable as they use to be and some of us are even getting a “no” to new relationships because people know that we are a charity and know that in this economic climate we need contributions.

Relational fundraising came about because our mailing that asked for financial support was showing up with all kinds of coupons, advertisements, credit card offers, and all sorts of junk mail. Our request simply became lost in a sea of crap. So we scrapped the mailbox and began to walk on the sidewalk, we got out there to grow relationships with donors. We would go to a potential donors or current donors home/place of business and talk with them and connect with them. But now it feels like we are even vying for the attention of those we consider close friends. That's because we are fighting for their attention. Relationships have moved off the sidewalk and onto the super highway.

The Internet is changing our lives as fundraisers. The change that we are facing in relational fundraising is not that people don’t care, it’s that they are filtering far greater information on a daily basis. The need is great but the amount of information online is far greater. Therefore, it's not that every message reaches the intended audience, but instead every donor or potential donor can decide what they want to see with a click of a mouse. In addition to the potential audience being highly selective, relationships are changing because of social media. ABC recently reported that there we are now only separated by 4.7 people between you and I because of our connections on Facebook! I have to ask then, “Are you changing the way you do relational fundraising and the way you are sharing stories?” This week we are going to look at five new tools that I call the “Fab Five” in the new era of relational fundraising. I believe that we can relationally connect in new ways and that we can share great stories in far less words. Check back this week to learn about the “Fab Five.”