Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Learning to Catch Nonprofit Donors from a "Blue Ocean"

Chan Kim and Renee Mauborgne present their idea about Blue Oceans, as they relate to company strategies, in their article "Blue Ocean Strategy". Using the example of Cirque du Soleil, Kim and Mauborgne discuss how for-profit organizations can work to “give rise to completely new industries” or “alter the boundaries of an existing industry”, known as creating “Blue Oceans”.  They provide their readers with an understanding of how “Blue Oceans” are characterized, and their importance to the future. But what about nonprofit? How do they fit in?

In researching “Blue Oceans” and nonprofits, I found several resources that speak to how nonprofit agencies can work the Blue Ocean Strategy. Many strategists discussed the strategy in terms of mission and vision, as well as services and programs delivered to clients. However, I see the Blue Ocean Strategy relating to service organizations a bit differently, not through services or clients, but through donors.

Regardless of the focus, all nonprofits require money. With competition increasing, donors remaining stagnant and dollars donated decreasing; the economic pressure felt by nonprofits is real. It is time for Executive Directors and Donor Relation Managers to begin using the Blue Ocean Strategy to alter the boundaries of or even create new donor markets. To do this, service organizations need to seriously focus on increasing donor value while simultaneously lowering the cost of services.

By attacking both cost and value to donors, nonprofits will be able to not only make donating a more impactful action, but they could also bring in new donors who have not found donating to be beneficial. But catching nonprofit donors from “Blue Oceans” is much easier said than done. It will take serious planning, rethinking how organizations reach out and involve donors, as well as reexamination of service processes and procedures. The road ahead will be difficult, but if nonprofits are up for the challenge, I know they will soon find themselves with enough fish to feed the world. 

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