Technique-driven philanthropy is a method of fundraising based on specific actions non-profits must take to achieve desired results. The idea is the amount of money raised is directly related to particular actions non-profits take, and these actions are regimented and repeatable year-after-year.
Many years ago, I worked with a small non-profit whose primary fundraising revenue came from a gala. Everyone in the community knew it the social event to attend. Hundreds of people gathered every year for free food, drink, and entertainment. The event required months of preparation, hundreds of hours of staff time, and produced minimal results. The non-profits expenses were well over 50%, and when you accounted for staff time, I am reasonably sure they lost money on the event every year. But, because the organization focused on technique-driven philanthropy, they couldn't see other ways to raise more money with less time, energy, and effort.
How many times have you personally been involved with or seen other non-profits do the same fundraising activities over and over with the same results?
Organizations with technique-driven philanthropy often see fundraising as a set of pre-determined events and activities. Some examples of technique-driven philanthropy activities may include special events, letter campaigns, end-of-the-year appeals, and online giving. This philosophy simplifies fundraising into tasks and activities.
One of the problems with technique-driven philanthropy is it limits non-profit's creativity. When non-profits believe fundraising only occurs through specific methods, they often fail to adapt to changing circumstances and miss new and unique funding opportunities.
It is important to understand being technique and results-driven are not the same. A trap many organizations fall for is believing specific "techniques" or "best practices" will guarantee increased funding for their organization. While the following specific steps can help keep your fundraising organized and structured, technique-driven philanthropy alone will not increase your organization's fundraising capacity.
Which begs the question, "If technique-driven philanthropy is not the answer, why are the majority of non-profit fundraising plans based on doing specific activities a certain way?"
Perhaps it is time for non-profits to re-evaluate their priorities and focus.
Check out a previous blog post I wrote about community-centered philanthropy.