Posts Tagged ‘nonprofit innovation’

No medium has ever survived the indifference of 25 year olds.Clay Shirky

If I worked in the 8 track tape industry, I’d be real nervous.

What if we altered the brilliant Mr. Shirky’s statement a little:

No organization has ever survived the indifference of 25 year olds.

The generation born between 1978 and 1992 are referred to as Millenials.  They are one big and powerful crowd — sorry Boomers, but in 2008 there were 77.6 million millenials to your 74.1 million and despite your best efforts, the fountain of youth has eluded you as it has generations prior.  Enjoy your time leading while you can — there is a strong and larger generation coming and they are very, very different.

In their book The Networked Nonprofit (Amazon link), Beth Kanter and Allison Fine state:

If alarm bells aren’t ringing inside of nonprofit organizations right now, they should be — loudly.
Millenials represent a potential fatal blow to the large, ongoing membership donor bases for traditional organizations.

If that doesn’t send a chill up your spine…it should.

Millenials are like weather vanes, moving with the slightest change in a societal, technological, or cultural breeze.  They are fickle and move from flavor-of-the-month at a breakneck pace with a different definition of loyalty (just ask MySpace).

Strong organizations will not try to “capture” the millenials it hopes to serve, hire or involve.  Strong organizations will restructure in order to evolve with millenials, it will be the only way to remain relevant.  Don’t focus on the generational divide, focus on building the bridge.

Start having the conversation now or soon no one will be talking about us.  What steps are your organization taking to engage the millenial generation?

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Swim with sharks

Duplicate Survival?  No Thank You.
This economy sucks.  Really sucks.  Attend any meeting, conference, or networking event and it’s like the scene from Jaws — everyone’s showing their scars — the largest is the winner.  Interestingly, survival is being celebrated more than success.  No offense, but I’d much rather duplicate success strategies right now than survival tactics.

Back to my Jaws analogy — the successful people in rooms are occasionally being thrown into the ocean like chum (bait or luring substance for sharks) and you hear comments like:

  • She got lucky
  • Well look at their market, they throw money at them
  • He was just in the right place at the right time
  • They broke the rules to do that
  • Anyone in that position could have had success there
  • She won’t be able to sustain that, it will crash
  • He’d be nowhere without his support network
  • Her staff does all the work

Little mention of the risk taking, pioneering, leadership, innovation, passion, drive, motivation, recruiting, intelligence, etc.  The qualities and activities that bring the really cool scars — because pursuing success can also bring failure.  Struggle to succeed, not survive — it’s a lot more fun and rewarding despite the risks and naysayers.  It’s time to acknowledge and commend the successful, they are the ones we should learn from and emulate.  Aren’t you curious at why they’re thriving?  I sure am.

Non-Profit Does Not Mean Non-Success
Because we are serving our communities through non-profit organizations does not mean we are non-success organizations.  We need to know what is working (in any industry), where innovative opportunities are waiting, we need to respect those individuals and organizations that are taking risks and applaud their successes.

There are some great stories and great things happening — great success.  I regularly troll (not sure what’s with all the fishing analogies today) the following sites to find superstars and learn:

Good http://www.good.is/ a collaborative site “pushing the world forward”

Cool People Care http://www.coolpeoplecare.org/ “to save the world”, can’t beat that mission

DesignM.ag http://designm.ag/inspiration/best-non-profit-websites/ a list of some really great orgs and their sites (more of a design thing)

Organizations cannot grow through cost cuts after cost cuts and re-engineering and not every success has to be of epic proportions — the small wins count too.  Find those doing great, survival is for the mediocre.

Choose your platform: survival or success.

Doggy paddling with the sharks,

Mike