Today is October 21st, 2015.
It’s the late Dizzy Gillespie’s 98th birthday, Kim Kardashian’s 35th, and THD’s own Sherri Mayer and Cris Parisi are celebrating today.
The USS Constitution "Old Ironsides" was launched on this day in 1797, cement was patented in 1824, Thomas Edison invented the lightbulb in 1879… and in 1985 Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox traveled through time in a Delorean.
As Marty and Doc, they got their hands on enough plutonium to generate a charge of 1.21 gigawatts and set the date to October 21st, 2015.
The movie, released in 1989, made some pretty bold and surprisingly accurate predictions.
Some have come true…
Flat screen TVs, drones, 3D, Holograms? Check.
Artificial Intelligence? Hello IBM Watson.
Some seem close…
Hoverboards? Getting close, thanks to Lexus. Flying cars? Not so much, but probably only off by a decade or so. They also predicted fax machines on every corner… whoops!
All this got us thinking about, well, 1985 and what we, as fundraisers, might have predicted.
"My fundraising program won’t survive – my donors are dying!"
Here we are in 2015 and charitable giving is at an all-time high. Your audience has shifted, sure, but a huge number of baby boomers are just entering the most charitable stage of their lives.
"I just added an 800# into my last direct mail piece! My fundraising practice is REALLY integrated now!"
None of us could have predicted that "integration" would grow to include such an incredible, ever-evolving mix of channels. Or that good ol’ direct mail – whose demise has been forecast for decades – would continue to thrive as a cost-effective part of your marketing mix.
"My brand? What do you mean, my brand?"
In 1985 we were organizations. Not "brands" with stories, unique voices and instantly recognizable wristbands, clothing lines… or ice buckets.
Fundraising databases were stored on mainframe computers that covered the area of several football fields. Imagine telling someone in 1985 they would be in a "cloud".
In 1985 "Omnichannel" was likely to be a new venture brought to you by Ted Turner. "Cross Channel" was a swim from England to France. A "viral" campaign was something you probably wanted to avoid. And "mobile" was... well, moving.
What hasn’t changed?
Americans continue to be among the most generous people on earth. They might lend their support differently than they did in 1985, but their ability to feel compassion – and act on it – remains the same.
Say what you want about the impact of modern technology on our lives. But no one can challenge the fact that it has provided us with new and innovative ways to support the things that mean something to us.
It’s an exciting time to be a fundraiser! Imagine what we’ll have accomplished when Marty and Doc land in 2045, in their fully electric, self-navigating Google Delorean.
BTW, the movie also predicted the Cubs would win the World Series in 2015. As of this writing…