Drakes Bay Fundraising
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Archive for the ‘Dreamforce’ Category

Notes from Dreamforce: Scale and collaboration

Posted by Christopher Dann
Tuesday September 25, 2012
Categories: Dreamforce, Fundraising

The disruptive technology and revolutionary enterprise that has become Sales Force hold great promise for the nonprofit sector, but they could not have been incubated and grown in the sector. The nonprofit sector is too fractured and doesn’t present sufficient scale to make venturing capital of sufficient magnitude a reasonable proposition.

Even now that the platform is built and Sales Force Foundation partners are developing applications for the nonprofit sector, the benefits of the technology will not accrue to a vast majority of nonprofit organizations for a long time. As we learned from those offering the most useful tools, their target markets are organizations raising $10 million or more. While that threshold offers Sales Force Foundation partner businesses an ample market, it is a market comprised of just 3% to 5% of reporting public charities, those charities whose minimum income requires filing with the IRS.

The one opportunity for organizations under that threshold is through collaboration. It is terribly ironic that collaboration is less likely in the nonprofit sector than in the for-profit world and that its best opportunities are among organizations that would most benefit from Sales Force technologies.

Collaboration is unlikely in the nonprofit sector for reasons of institutional ego. In its benevolent aspects, nonprofit institutional ego arises out of conviction that an organization is best suited to fulfill the mission it is addressing. But, alas, the non-benevolent aspects of institutional ego seem to prevail: the convictions of board and staff members that it is they who are most responsible for the organization’s suitability.

Why would organizations under that $10 million individual contributions threshold most benefit from Sales Force-engendered technologies?  Because most of them are community-based organizations with both support and program constituencies. And while Sales Force rightly insists that “business is social,” there is nothing more social than community-based nonprofit enterprise.

Collaboration in this sub-sector of the nonprofit sector should actually come easiest. Think of the numbers of organizations not competing with one another, addressing the same mission with essentially the same program in cities all across the land.  United Ways. Hospices. Community animal welfare organizations. Libraries. Symphonies. Food banks. Land trusts.

There is enormous opportunity for leadership here. It must come from within, because whatever comes from without is likely to exploit more than benefit the organizations.

Next Generation Fundraising and Drakes Bay Fundraising merged in the fall of 2013, bringing the longstanding professional acquaintances of their four principals – Tim Oleary, Carol Leister, Cindy Germain, and Christopher Dann – into a single company and combining the special resources and experiences of each to provide clients greater breadth and depth of service.

For more information about Next Generation Fundraising, click here.