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Are nonprofits a-changin’?

In 1965, Bob Dylan, the de facto leader of folk music, took the stage at the Newport Folk Festi­val and busted out on electric guitar. Though he was nearly booed off the stage, that set would literally transform the American music industry.

This was right after the British Invasion, when most folk fans viewed rock music as too “mainstream”; it came as quite a shock to them that Dylan would “conform.” Music critic Tony Glover noted that Dylan had “apparently evolved too fast for some of his young followers, who [were] ready for radical changes in practically everything else.” Glover pointed out a compelling contradiction: for an audience pushing pointed political and social change, shouldn’t Dylan’s switch to electric guitar have signified the very cultural shift they were looking for?

At its core, the nonprofit sector is about the business of transfor­mation. We may work along a spectrum of vital causes, but the objective, for all of us, is to move the needle. Why, then, do our organizations and our sector change so slowly? We live in an era where big data, hyper-connectivity, and collaborative innovation are accelerating ideas and progress exponentially, not incremental­ly. To remain relevant, the sector must evolve just as explosively.

Philanthropy is one area leapfrogging over antiquated systems. Crowdsourcing enables donors to deal directly with those in need, and gives individuals immediate access to a wide world of funders. Giving has gone online, mobile, and viral. In other words, the ways in which we find, engage, and inform donors is changing rapidly. If we stop protecting our norms, and instead open our arms to the possibil­ities of change, we find there are far more resources, far more ideas, and far more opportunities available than ever before. Georgia Gives Day, GCN’s online giving campaign, is your opportu­nity to plug into this new way of reaching and activating donors.

Georgia Gives Day is not just a day of generosity—it is a movement. There is no reason why, in this digital age, that (1) Donors should have a hard time finding great causes to support, and (2) It should cost your organization anything to get their support online. To do just that, Georgia Gives Day provides a free platform and a statewide wave of awareness designed for nonprofits to capitalize on. Georgia Gives Day is a stage. We are asking you to pick up your electric guitar and join us. What Dylan said has never been more true: The times, they are a-changin’.

Karen Beavor is President and CEO at the Georgia Center for Nonprofits.

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