Growth 27 Percent This Year

January 19, 2011       Todd Baker      

Your legacy doesn’t guarantee you a place in the future. Your best year, how long ago was it? The new “up” is not flat. Up is and will always be up — growing the organization. Don’t accept less. If you have surrounded yourself with small thinkers, run for your life.

You want more revenue? Think Big. Testing blue envelopes against red ones is not big thinking. Eliminating homelessness in five years is thinking big. Stopping diabetes, curing cancer, saving disaster victims, empowering a village through training and education — all of these endeavors are big visions that people are inspired to join.

Stop trying to think of the next gimmick that will fetch the most money. Stop tricking your donors into reading your information. Your donors are smarter than you. They know why they give you money and you lack full understanding of their motivation. You over communicate hoping to strike an accord. Instead, try listening intently.

Stop focusing most of your attention on tactics that will move you an inch in one direction or the other. Stop implementing everything you see and hear at a conference without understanding how it fits in your overall strategy — if you have a strategy.   

In times like these, and really in all times, program people must lead and marketers need to follow. Get back the passion. Be driven by saving lives rather than making money. People have money but you fail to inspire. People line up to purchase a $10 DVD they’ve already seen multiple times. These people seek real meaning. Your vision can ignite a flame of true purpose in their lives. However, you are churning out the same message and plans from years past.

Time will make any plan yesterday’s thinking. Maintaining the status quo will be your last will and testament, for death is at your door knocking.  Refocus. Help those people right in front of you. Tell everyone you see your new story. Be bold. Know that one compassion-driven moment can change everything.

Audrey and Eldad Hagar started rescuing dogs from the streets of Southern California and videotaping their efforts. Hundreds of thousands of people have seen their videos on YouTube and now television. Their efforts have touched so many lives; they created Paws for Hope, www.pawsforhope.org.

Eldad holds a tiny hand-held video camera while he rescues dogs. Intensity is captured. You are there. Without a production truck, expensive lighting, or a camera crew, their brave acts of kindness still inspire. They are brave because they are not afraid to do what they know is right. Saving the life right in front of them, nothing more, and nothing less is today’s most important. One seemingly small compassion-driven act can inspire all of us.

Audrey and Eldad have accomplished what many charities only dream of and they did it largely on their own. Paws for Hope is driven by their vision and not by slick marketing tactics. In fact, a slick marketing expert might have said, “there are already more than 35 private and public animal shelters/offices throughout Southern California, so don’t waste your time competing for attention and donations.” Good marketing is only good when it works. Take good marketing over a self-proclaimed smart marketer.

Follow your heart. If your vision is big, it is hard to be ignored.  Good marketing is critical to growing. However, for your donor’s sake please don’t pick up the telephone to call them until you have something inspiring to share. Don’t lead with, “We need more money.” Claiming, “Contributions are down” whether true or not, is not a good lead either.

Remember, your donors fell in love with a vision. They have moved on and so have the rest of us. Begin with the new big vision. Watch their hearts open and embrace you greater than ever before. 

Now is the best time, when others claim it is the worst of times, to launch a movement greater than your organization can do on its own.

When everyone is cutting back, you are spending more time thinking about your community’s issues and problems. What will it take to finally solve the problem? Discover it. Win the prize.

Give people a legitimate role to play. Ensure people’s involvement matters. Share in the success. Share in the struggles. Go and do together.

People desperately need a life of meaning. Therefore, we must help them invest in something greater than watching the movie Turner and Hooch for the third time.

Go inspire. **** Todd Baker is vice president/senior strategist for Grizzard and is based in Poulsbo, Wash. His email is todd.baker@grizzard.com

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