DIABETES ORGANIZATIONS AND ORGANIZED DIABETES FOLK

It’s been a month of announcements from diabetes organizations. On July 1, “Big Red” made an announcement that their CEO will be stepping down at the end of the month and the search is on for a new CEO. This morning, JDRF made an announcement that their CEO was gone and a new one is coming in. Either way you look at it, this is big news. But the fact that these announcements happened within three weeks of one another is no coincidence. It shows there’s something larger going on.

This is, of course, pure speculation. I don’t have much of an inside track to either organization*. But I see it like this: These are both fundraising organizations. If fundraising were going well, no organization would be inviting their CEO to consider other opportunities. So this tells us that fundraising is not going well. And chances are that if you or someone you’re close to has diabetes, you’ve done some fundraising for one of these organizations in your time. So what’s changing?

I’ve worked for many health-related fundraising organizations over the last ten years and have seen a shift in what works and what doesn’t. Terms like “engagement,” “transparency,” and “social” have crept into the philanthropy vernacular – and for good reason. These days, we want to do more than simply give money. We want to be more involved and offer not only our finances, but also our smarts and our skills. We also want to know more about where our gifts are going so we can believe in our contributions. We want to be involved in the entire process. Why? Because we care. That part hasn’t changed, but the ways in which we express that care have.

Why is this happening? Oh, I could go on and wax philosophical about empowerment through social media or crowd sourcing, but those would just be theories. I don’t have the answer.

What I have seen is that some organizations are slow to adapt to these friendly donor demands. They found a system a while back that worked, so they continue to use that system to this day with minimal adjustments (e.g. they switched from “write a letter to your coworkers to ask them to donate to your walk!” to “send an email to your coworkers to ask them to donate to your walk!”). Sure, they’ll change up the messaging around this tactic to focus on their advocacy work or a particular person’s story. But too often our involvement with them is chalked up to dollar signs.

I do not say this to discount sharing our personal stories or volunteering or even our fundraising. I just think that things are shifting more quickly than many organizations are able to keep up with. And when they come up short, their CEOs get the boot. And I don’t have a solution for this, but I hope that the organizations recognize that the world around them is changing and evolving beyond marketing that may have been successful once. As for the two CEOs, I would love to buy them a beer and maybe set them up in a karaoke bar together to, well, (I cringe to write this, but…) let it go.

On a brighter note, let’s talk about organized diabetes folk and #dblogcheck. This is something my better half came up with last year and is encouraging folks to participate in tomorrow, Tuesday, July 22. You can read more here. Or here. Or, better yet, with gifs here.

The basic concept is this: You read diabetes blogs. So why not at least let people know? Leave a comment, anything you want, simple as “check” to let them know you’re reading. Happy checking!

*Yes, I worked for “Big Red” and have had many a pleasant conversation with outgoing CEO Larry Hausner, even after I left my position there. I’ve never met former JDRF CEO Jeffrey Brewer, but he seems like a cool guy. I have donated to both organizations during the tenures of these two CEOs.