- Wed, November 12 2008
- Filed under: Fundraising essentials
I’ve left Philadelphia and am now in Houston to speak at the National Arts Marketing Conference. I can sum up the final day of Independent Sector yesterday in this way: lots of excitement and optimism about our new president and the opportunities ahead, tempered by very serious worries that we’re facing an era of enormous problems and huge human need. The final speakers echoed this sentiment. A lot.
So what do we do? There is still a lot of fear in the air. At my keynote in North Carolina last month, I tried to hit this head-on and encourage nonprofits to face the economic downturn with a sharply defined, well positioned identity that stands out—at a time when it feels safer to stick with the same old, same old. It’s time to take the risk of showing what makes us a different, unique investment. It is not a time to simply say we need money.
There is a great Get to the Point edition from MarketingProfs that defines how you do this especially well. (If you don’t already, you should subscribe to MarketingProfs.) This is what they said about how Warren Buffett reacted to the economic downturn:
In a post at Harvard Business Online, Bill Taylor highlights a Warren Buffett interview on Charlie Rose in which the billionaire investor responds to the question “Should wise people have known better?” in the affirmative, with the note that there’s a natural progression when things go wrong:
An innovator spots an untapped opportunity; the imitator attempts to capitalize on its merit; finally, explains Taylor, the idiot goes and apes the imitator, and with avarice “undoes the very innovations [he is] trying to use to get rich.”
According to Taylor, avoiding this cycle means developing the ability to distinguish between “genuine innovation” and “mindless imitation.” In other words, he asks, “Are you prepared to walk away from ideas that promise to make money [when] they make no sense?” Taylor, like Buffett, concedes this is easier said than done when you see competition heading in a particular direction and fear you’ll never catch up if you don’t join the charge. It takes discipline, notes Taylor, to remain conscious of the difference—taking advantage of innovation without getting caught up in the idiocy.
The Po!nt: “[D]on’t use the financial crisis as an excuse to stop taking chances or downsize your ambitions,” says Taylor. “But do use the crisis as an opportunity to take stock of what really matters—and to stop looking over your shoulder.”