May 30, 2023 Doug Shaw

Douglas Shaw

I’m pretty certain most people have heard the old joke about the guy who buys a chainsaw from the hardware store and returns two days later, covered in sweat. He tells the guy behind the counter, “I can’t cut down trees with this! It’ll take a week just to cut one tree.”

The shopkeeper says, “Hmmm, let me look at it would you?” The worn-out customer hands over the saw and the shopkeeper proceeds to pull on the starter rope. The engine fires up immediately and he revs it a couple of times. The chain flies around the blade just like it’s supposed to. The amazed customer exclaims, “What’s that noise?”

It’s not a particularly flattering story for the befuddled customer, but it does illustrate the point that if you know what to do, and have done it before—regularly—it no longer feels innovative . . . it’s just standard practice.

So it is with the basics of direct response fundraising. To the beginner, it’s all trial and error—and mostly error, I might add. That’s okay; we all have to start somewhere!

I can remember the first time I created a major donor proposal for use in direct mail. The results were amazing, and I felt very innovative! Today, just about every organization we serve uses it as a part of their annual lineup of fundraising appeals. Now it’s standard practice.

In this issue of Donor Focus, several members of our team have addressed the topic of innovation from their own perspectives. Each has something valuable to contribute. May they be of help to you in your journey as you continue to be part of what is right with the world!