2014 has started off with a bang. Our clients and colleagues have come back from a well-deserved end-of-year break rested and ready to focus on the challenges of a new year. The past two weeks have been a flurry of emails and calls about scheduling budget planning, innovations presentations, new business inquiries, integrated execution support.
Over the break I reread our most recent issue of Production Solutions‘ December, 2013 PS Insider newsletter. In our lead article, five industry leaders enlightened us to the hidden threats direct marketers and fundraisers face in 2014.
• AARP’s Chief Development Officer, David Whitehead, discussed the imminent threat of cutting, capping or limiting the charitable tax deduction.
• Blackbaud’s Vice President, Strategy and Business Practice, Dennis McCarthy, addressed the opportunity costs of not integrating your databases and fundraising programs.
• Leading Economist, Anirban Basu, shares with us the threats to the economy of rising interest rates and instability in the Middle East.
• Quad Graphics’ Joe Schick, Director of Postal Affairs, discusses the postal increase on January 26th and the future instability of postage rates.
• And Production Solutions’ own George Lizama talks about the growing challenge of defending fundraising agency fees.
Direct marketers and fundraisers…we have our work cut out for us this year!
Several people have asked me what I predict for 2014.
Stand back…my response may surprise you! At the very best, I hope it makes you think twice about your strategies this year and prepares you for a throw-down.
Overall, we are all going to have work smarter instead of harder. There will be a greater focus on integration, and digital will continue to play an ever-increasing role in organizations’ fundraising programs.
So what can you do? Let me rephrase that…here’s what we all NEED to do:
• Cost Review – Now is the time to focus on program efficiency by doing program, not project, bids. You are sure to find some cost savings with this approach. Look for ganging opportunities for high ticket items like calendars and greeting cards.
• Integration Audit – Now is the time to look for ways to better integrate your fundraising programs. With all of the channels now available to fundraisers, clean and synchronized data between channels is critical.
• Innovations Audit – According to Roger Craver in his April 26, 2013 The Agitator post, “…even the strongest of businesses must innovate or die.” That’s a warning if I ever heard one! It is time to sit down and personally research or call in the experts to advise what the winning formats and trending techniques are that may fit your budget and help you innovate before your program shrivels up to die.
• Let Your Voice Be Heard on Capitol Hill – The looming threat to the charitable tax deduction can be defeated if the opposition is loud enough. We may be able to head off this threat. We were just hit with a very large postal increase because congress is forcing the USPS to pre-fund its pension plan to the tune of $6 billion a year. Only political pressure will move the needle on this crucial issue.
• Pray – All we can do is pray for peace and harmony in the Middle East.
This is not a year to sit back on our laurels, my friends.
The threats are no longer hidden. I just told you what they are.
Now…join me in FIGHTING these threats head on so our organizations’ missions might prevail.