Can’t wait to find out what happened 18 months ago? …GET A LIFE!

And so it begins… the annual summer discussion about what giving did last year – 2010 in this case.  Whose number is more accurate?  Is any number accurate?  Is it too high or too low?  How did we do in comparison?

Honestly, why waste your time?  If you have to wait six months to find out what the giving environment was for last year – you really don’t have enough to do.  And, you are looking in the wrong direction.

Until now, charitable giving has been the only $300 billion dollar a year industry trying to drive forward while using only the rearview mirror. 

At the Atlas of Giving we are all about looking ahead.  Yes we measure, but we measure monthly so that we can note how giving is trending.  More importantly, we are providing a reliable predictive forecast for the months ahead and are analyzing the impact of current events on giving.  The name of this game is ‘utility’.  How can you use data and information to raise more money and create better budgets?  I’m pretty sure that Mattel isn’t focused on how accurate the retail sales numbers were for December of 2010 – their profitability depends on what the forecast is for this coming December.

So, as you watch the annual spectacle of the June release of Giving USA numbers and the frenzy of speculation related to accuracy, you’d be smart to ask yourself – Why is this important?

Until September 8, 1900, the National Weather Bureau mostly measured weather.  Everything changed on that fateful day when as many as 12,000 were killed in Galveston, Texas in a strong hurricane (the biggest loss of life in a natural disaster in US history).  As a result, the National Weather Bureau changed its focus from measuring to forecasting for the obvious reason that reliable forecasting would save lives… and it certainly has.  It’s time for our sector to stop its infatuation with the past and focus on a brighter future.

Greater accuracy has little utility – especially if it is more than 6 months old.  A reliable forecast and an ongoing monitoring of events and conditions that are currently affecting giving are the tools of that will bring real advancement and better results.

The Atlas of Giving is focused on the future but will continue to accurately measure the past and learn from it.

“The future belongs to those who prepare for it.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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