Posts Tagged ‘relevant’

Tactics, Templates, Trash

It’s clear that organizations need to adapt and evolve in order to attract, engage, and retain future generations of members, donors, customers, and shareholders (my alarm sounding post).  Or be lost to irrelevance and obscurity.  At least it’s a choice.  Playing basketball or learning to swim with us at 6 years old no longer means a committed volunteer and donor at 26 years old.

The “how” in remaining being relevant is still being written — dictated by the largest generation in history by the way.  Too often we hunt for the tactics — “just give me the ‘how-to’ list and I’ll follow it.”  Unfortunately, there will not be a “How to market to a Gen Xer/millennial so they buy or give” in-a-box kit.  Maybe I need to develop and market an out-of-box kit.  We’re making our own shoes (NikeID), our shoes result in a tangible donation (Toms Shoes), building our own cars (Mini), designing our own computers (Dell), designing our own philanthropy (Donors Choose), we can design our own credit cards.  Customized, synchronized and personalized — a creative stamp on MY world…a brief and virtual legacy.  We need tactile, not tactics.

Trash the Templates
Nonprofit organizations (and most small businesses I work with) love templates, I mean really, really love them.  Boiler plate, back when I had your job, why reinvent the wheel, just change the date from 1987, have you seen my leg warmers, it’s on this 3.5″ disk, been-there-done-that leadership at its finest. Big donors, loyal members, big loyal customers all get the same stuff — little cut, copy and paste and “voila!” a retention loyalty program.  The future has us creating customized individual plans and programs, texting, tweeting, bumping, IM’ing, foursquaring, gowallaing, Facebook paging, and yelping.  If I told you 5 years ago that being “liked” (thank you Facebook) was going to be a success metric, you’d laugh me off stage; which, ironically, I was 2 years ago…twice.  And mass direct mail…”dude, just send it to my parents’ house I guess, I might get it when I’m back from Costa Rica where I’m working on a clean water project” — yeah, that’s a strategy for a different era.  Baby boomers may have broken the mold — we’re breaking the templates.

Are the new T’s: texting, touching, technology?  Connecting the relevant dots will insure a relevant future.  Otherwise, it’s an uphill walk to school: both ways, barefoot, and in 10 feet of snow.

The landscape is fast changing, what can we be doing to ensure we’re a part of it?


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?