Friday, December 5, 2008

Who Needs a Museum of Fundraising Anyway?


Many of you have heard of SOFII and have even registered. I'm an early adopter. Working in a small organization SOFII has proven to be an invaluable resource. We use it. We love it. We talk about it.

Ken B and I (not Branagh the other one)have had discussions about whether SOFII is a museum of fundraising or a database of best practice that can be pinched and used to help people like me.

I argue that museums are dark, dusty, old, irrelevant and places for people who have run out of things to do. Fundraisers live in a fast paced world and need, new, relevant, tested, examples of best practice.

During my reading time this morning all the newspapers were saying the same thing (Canadian Government is in chaos did you know?) so I thought I'd poke around SOFII a bit with my coffee. I discovered an article "Dislocation, dislocation" by George Smith. I don't know George and wouldn't dare say he should be in a museum, but I'm guessing he has been around awhile. The essay is something to be savoured, read slowly - with a dictionary, reflected on and thought about. It is difficult to decide what to quote because every word has a purpose and is important. George says things like:

"This used to be such a simple business. Your communications always sought to explain a need, to make the point that we privileged people should help less privileged people. If you were healthy, well-fed, well-housed, then do something for cancer patients, the hungry, the homeless. Say please. Say thank you. Treat people as adults. Give them a sense of achievement.

Such simplicities, though they have underpinned do-gooding for centuries, now fall foul of the new need for pomposity and the new and cerebrally-terrifying craving for conformity – a world in which the only prizes will go to those who look, sound and act familiar. You only have to look at your television schedules to see how far and how quickly we have tumbled into this world. Can you see any programme there tonight that is not a derivative of something you have seen before?"

That is briliant! The difference between the two paragraphs is case and point really. I read it twice and am still thinking about it hours later. Spending time reading this essay left me richer for having had the experience. Sort of like how you feel after going to a museum!

So if you have registered for SOFII surfed around once and moved on I encourage you to take a slow stroll through the website again this weekend. Use it, think about it, talk about it and contribute to it. We are all building something really important here. Our history AND our future - at the same time.

Thank you for spending time here.

PS There are now over fifty of you reading this blog. Some of you even come back again. If you find it even moderately entertaining, can you please do me a favour. Sign up as a follower. I'd like to have more followers than Sean Triner before he gets back from vacation! Can you do that for me? Thank you.


  1. I think, depending on your understanding and experiences, words like "museum" or "fundraising" can mean such different things that you don't realize you may not be on the same page with someone else until you're halfway through a conversation.

    When I hear "museum" I think of incredible cultural experiences that point to a past that leaves me in awe and a future that I can't wait to see come true.

    SOFII is unique. We all sense that and not just because it's a portal for information but because there is a spirit behind it that celebrates what was, what is, and what is to come.

    SOFII is THE showcase in the worlds largest fundraising museum (or at least aiming to be). An "exhibit" people usually would line up to see as if it were at the Museum of Modern Art or the Museum of Science and Industry.

    As long as we keep clarifying definitions and pointing people to the essence of SOFII, I think the world will realize, or at least those in fundraising, that a museum of fundraising is very much needed.

  2. Great comment Leanne and welcome!

    It is amazing to see all the new exhibits on SOFII - it really is turning into a warm gathering place for fundraisers. A place to visit often!

    Now let's work on getting more exhibits up there.