I’ve seen numerous blog posts lately talking about innovation and the fact that many associations and non-profits aren’t really keeping up in terms of new ways of thinking or implementing new technology.
Old Dogs and New Tricks (or treats)?
Many blog posts and twitter chat discussions have suggested that the “old guard” leaders aren’t willing to change or aren’t listening to their younger members or staff. But is it really a question of trying to teach old dogs new tricks?
Well, I can’t speak for any association or non-profit Exec Directors, and I certainly don’t consider myself an “old dog” (OK, I’m no young pup either!). But while I love learning new things, the speed at which technology is changing and new online tools are emerging can really make your head spin! And let’s be honest, change can be scary!
"Shiny Object Syndrome”
While some individuals and groups want to rush to adopt anything new and shiny, organizations large and small, non-profit and private need to ensure that they adopt new tools or tactics as a means of addressing an identified issue or need. Associations and non-profits need to avoid the “Shiny Object Syndrome.” As Beth Kanter suggests:
What lies beneath a request for technology capacity or skill building or the rush to adopt the newest social or mobile tool? Are there other more pressing organizational issues that should be addressed first such as poor program quality or lack of a overall communications strategy or leadership issues. Should a nonprofit hold off on spending time exploring new technologies and do the organizational work first?”
Moving Towards Innovative Solutions
The key for member-based organizations is to listen to and understand their constituents so that their needs, and the objectives of the organization, are driving innovation. Here’s an example of an organization that appears to be transforming and innovating to meet their constituents current needs, while retaining and respecting their original roots.
What Happened to the Unicef Halloween Box?
Since it is Halloween today, I was thinking back to the days when I carried around a Unicef box and wondering if I should bother gathering up all of the household change. This led me to visit the Unicef Canada website - where I discovered they don’t provide Halloween boxes here anymore – “it’s gone virtual.”
These days, Unicef Canada offers “a virtual box or e-box.” Their website suggests: “you can then share your e-box on Facebook with family and friends, (which is easier than going door-to-door). It's fun to see the box fill up!”
At Unicef USA, they are still offering the Trick-or-Treat Collection boxes, but they are also encouraging folks toTrick-or-Treat for Unicef Online by creating their own fundraising pages. In addition, this year, “the iconic orange box goes mobile with a “Scan to Donate tag on the Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF collection box and on fundraising materials.” You can also text the word “TOT” to UNICEF (864233) to make a $10.00 donation to Trick-or-Treat for UNICEF *.
Unicef USA has also produced a Trick-or-Treat for Unicef Costume Party website where kids can use their virtual costume creator; plan a Halloween Party for a purpose; donate; and find out more about Unicef’s work.
I think Unicef – both in Canada and the USA – has found a way to balance tradition with innovation. They’ve embraced and enhanced their web presence and interactivity for online kids, while maintaining either a virtual version or the real tactile version of their iconic collection box. This appeals to the older, more nostalgic generation as well as the newer digital-only generation.
It’s fitting that the group that made Halloween their “national Unicef Day” aren’t scared of a little change and innovation.
Want more on change?
Check out this Wild Apricot post - Never Try to Reason With An Elephant
- that discusses the actual steps you need to take to implement the changes you want to see.