There are few people alive today who are as consistently insightful in their analysis of the changing world around us (especially in the marketing realm) and as prolific in sharing their insights as Seth Godin.
When I read the blog, I was stunned. His thoughts captured and encapsulated the emotional tug-of-war that many baby boomers face as they lead fundraising organizations today in a world that we personally enjoy but aren’t certain how to navigate professionally.
“Malaria, the atomic bomb, the McCarthy hearings, television’s ubiquity, the decay of the industrial base – these are mammoth changes, changes that came from all around us, changes we had to withstand.”
Seth is talking about changes that personally affected us. You and I could name other changes in our lives over the past 50 or 60 years that we had to endure. They were forced on us. For us in fundraising, we have recently had to endure changes that are ending the era of the printed word, and with it direct mail as well as the shrinking pool of supporters with a trusting nature of institutions. As Godin says, these are mammoth changes that we have to deal with whether we like them or not. They are forced on us. But then he switches gears and talks about us personally.
“Today, we’re personally faced with an entirely new kind of change – changes we can choose to make, the changes that are available to us as opposed to changes that are forced on us.”
From a personal perspective, we as customers are facing a widening world of choices. You don’t have one choice in a phone. You aren’t tied to one cable monopoly. We can shop online or at the mall. Walls are falling and choices are opening up. You have freedom and options.
“No one had to cajole you into living with the changes of the last fifty years, because here they were, like it or not. You had no choice. Today, most of the change – in media, in culture, in commerce – is there if you want it. You can choose to be a media company, a buyer, a seller. You can choose to go out on the long tail, choose to be weird, choose to enter the connection economy.”
Freedom and choice are becoming the watchwords of our new world. The consumer … and the donor … are now in charge, which has huge implications on how companies must treat their customers if they want to keep them. And for charities, which have long been organization-centered (read self-centered when it comes to being transparent and accountable), they, too, must become customer oriented. In other words, charities need to be what you would personally expect them to be.
“In many ways, this choice makes the change ever more difficult, doesn’t it? The future isn’t so much about absorbing or tolerating change, it’s about making change.”
That’s really it in a nutshell isn’t it? We all personally love the freedom and choice of our changing world because we can personally choose or not. It’s up to us. We have the choice.
But it also means that our organizations have to change to offer choices that are in line with the terms of the people who may want to connect with us … not just our terms.
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