Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Informed v intuitive decision making

I've just returned to Toronto from a mini road trip to Ottawa and Vancouver.

As always I met loads of interesting people, particularly during the two workshops I held in both cities.

What fascinates (interpret frustrates) me of late are comments like this...

"We are cutting back our donor development budget at the moment because of the recession..."

"We are not investing in XYZ because we anticipate a downturn next year..."

"We are not allowed to attend that conference as our training budget has been cut..."

Why do they frustrate me?

Because most of these comments are prefaced by one of either two things:

1 An admission that to date fundraising income (from individuals) has not been affected by the global downturn - in fact most org's I speak to are tracking on par with the same time last year or even seeing an increase

2 They just don't know (I.e. havent looked at data/evidence/facts) and are therefore basing these decisions on intuition/gut feeling/emotion

Now in some instances there are likely very sound reasons for some of the comments I have listed above, but having spoken to (literally) hundreds of fundraisers, board members and Executive Directors over the past few months, most of these decisions have been made without being armed with the right data.

And I am not just talking about data from industry bodies, economists, sites such as the Recession Watch blog - I'm talking about looking at your own data. In fact I blogged about this very topic a few months back on Professional Fundraising's blog series.

So the message for the day: arm yourself with real data before making what could be recession suicide.

Now is not the time for panic and rash decision making, but sensible, pragmatic and supporter focused fundraising.


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