Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Learning’s from ‘the big easy’: day 1

I’m sitting in the hotel lobby of my hotel in New Orleans, making some last minute changes to my presentation which I’m delivering tomorrow at the AFP International conference in New Orleans. (I should be telling you that it was finished weeks ago, blah blah blah, but this is the reality!)

Thought it would be worthwhile to note the key highlights from day 1 of the conference.

I kicked off the day by going to Penelope Burke’s session on Philanthropy in a turbulent economy. Burke revealed the findings from her latest research on donor trends and attitude toward giving that were conducted earlier this year in the US, which reached out to 1m donors and received 22,000 responses.

Some of the noteworthy fining that I took from this session:

• Whilst there was a bias toward donors using ‘over solicitation’ as a reason for discontinuing support of organizations, Burke went to on to say that over solicitation didn’t equate to a certain number of times people were asked in a given period, but that this meant ‘under communication’, in other words being asked far more than being cared for and fed back to about where their money was making an impact.

• Despite what intuitively many might have thought, there was no significant change in the types of organizations donors planned to support in 2009. Whilst it may be thought that human services org’s may be the ones to see increased support, this was not reflected in the findings.

• Half of those who responded said they were willing to make sacrifices in their life to continue their support of nonprofits.

I then wandered down to hear Dr Tom Steiner talk about transformational leadership in tough economic times. This was a truly entertaining session, with no PowerPoint! Tom talked about matters as varied as developing a 30 second pitch for your cause, through to practical ways for real leaders to inspire others in their organization. He resonated well with me when he commented that in the most part people are emotional and make emotional rather than rational and data led decisions in their lives.

Jon Duschinsky then kept us equally engaged with his session on Philanthropy in a flat world. Jon talked about the emergence of businesses infiltrating ‘our’ sector and starting to do charitable things that we hadn’t previously had to encounter, therefore adding to the competitive space we operate in. He also talked about the need for us to rationalize and figure out what the hell we (I.e. each organization) truly are the best in the world at doing and focusing our energies on those things rather than trying to be everything to everyone.

Day 2 is now upon me, which means I'm even closer to delivering my session. Time for more coffee and less PowerPoint slides..



Ted Grigg said...

You said:
He resonated well with me when he commented that in the most part people are emotional and make emotional rather than rational and data led decisions in their lives.“

I couldn’t agree with you more. People respond to energy, enthusiasm and leader’s strong beliefs in what they are doing.

Most of us long for inspiration and a faith that we can somehow help others.

I wouldn't abandon facts and replace it with emotion. Because facts give permission to the donor to display their emotion with giving.

Jonathon Grapsas said...

Too true Ted, thanks for your comments.

See my post today and Ted Hart's poignant comments..