Can you create a culture of increased giving?

Propelling your organization to double-digit growth, exponential mission impact, and leadership in your movement, there are only a few strategies that consistently make the grade.


Defining our terms

A culture of philanthropy exists when everyone within the organization values and strives for INSPIRED, JOYFUL, GENEROUS INVESTMENTS of wisdom, insights, time, energy, expertise, talents, connections, and money. Every constituency understands, embraces, believes in, and acts on his or her collective and individual roles and responsibilities in philanthropy, in a collaborative and donor-centric manner.

This can feel like a daunting task.

In my experience, however, when you expose the team to the transformative power of giving time, talent and treasure freely and joyfully beyond expectations, the results are not only amazing for the organization but also awesome for the investors.

Drivers of a Culture of Philanthropy

  1. CEO leadership is number one. When the CEO builds a strategically composed and engaged board that understands its role in philanthropy and a staff that includes philanthropy as a shared responsibility, a culture of philanthropy can thrive.
  1. Engagement of mission staff – make sure program staff, physicians, faculty members are actively participating in the engagement and stewardship of donors
  • Help them understand their roles
  • Make it easy for mission staff to participate by providing training, stewarding their efforts, tapping into their strengths and providing tools
  1. Philanthropy is infused throughout the organization
  • It’s a core revenue “lever” – part of the “resource engine”
  • Is based on relationships with donor/investors as trusted partners (not just sources of money)
  1. Philanthropy is tied to the core vision of the organization
  • Not funding the “frills” or “extras”
  • Central to achieving vision for the future
  1. Philanthropy is donor-centric
  • All decisions throughout the organization are focused on developing “360 degree” relationships with donor/investors
  1. The team shares data and relationship management. Everyone who has a relationship with a political leader, media rep, donor, potential donor, or grantor is updating the database with information.
  2. When a Culture of Philanthropy exists:
  • Leaders demonstrate the behaviors they seek.
  • Success is celebrated throughout the organization or institution, credit is shared
  • The CEO and board adequately resource the fundraising office.

Getting There

1. Assess where your organization is on a scale of 1 to 5. (A terrific staff and board retreat activity). Consider surveying your donors and team in advance.

2. Set SMART three to five year goals (specific, measurable, actionable, results oriented and timed)

3. Create a plan with strategies for how to get there

4. Create accountability standards for all staff and Board members and then collect data and analyze progress against goals

5. Have a system to train, support and coach staff and Board members

6. Enlist and empower your team to help problem-solve and identify opportunities for progress

Consider starting with something easy that will have a HUGE impact. Make October or November, “Donor Care Month.” Ask all staff and board members to make 30 calls and/or visits over 30 days to donor thanking them and providing impact stories. Wow. Just getting that going would be a big step towards achieving a culture of philanthropy.

 Impact and Outcomes

  • Growth, reach, change for the people and causes you serve
  • Increased gifts, more major gifts
  • High donor retention
  • Donors and clients who spread the word about your organization
  • Loyal, productive, happy employees and Board members
  • Generous good people wanting to be part of your organizational family

 A culture of philanthropy is a great goal. It is in keeping with your aspirations for every person you serve. You would be remiss to strive for less.

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