Saturday, October 6, 2012

Quote of the Week: Building a Culture of Philanthropy

"Donors are not considered a means to an end, but just as vital as the work you carry out meeting the worlds greatest needs." 
Jeff Schreifels 

The Passionate Giving blog is launching a six part series about how to build a culture of philanthropy at your nonprofit. The brains behind The Passionate Giving blog, Jeff Schreifels and Richard Perry, know their subject well. They have over 55 years of experience fundraising for nonprofits such as Oxfam, The Salvation Army, World Harvest Mission, and United Cerebral Palsy.

Here are the key elements mentioned in their first blog post that they state must be part of an organization intending to build a vibrant culture of philanthropy:

  • The mission of the organization includes donors.
  • The leadership of the organization and the entire staff embrace the idea that fundraising is essential in fully carrying out the work and that it brings joy to donors to  give.
  • Board members are your biggest cheerleaders.
  • It's hard to tell who is working in "program" and who is in "development".
  • Donors of the organization trust it.
  • Everyone in the organization knows "the story".
  • When anyone walks through the doors of the organization what is felt is love, empathy, righteous anger, grace, hard work, personal care, and...more love.
Here are my comments regarding these excellent points:

- I am not sure I have ever seen a nonprofit mission statement that includes donors. (If you have one that does I would love to see it.) What a great idea! 

- Although most nonprofit employees will grudgingly admit that fundraising is a "necessary evil", fewer accept the need for everyone to participate in the fundraising process, and still fewer believe that true philanthropists delight in giving.

- If board members are not your biggest cheerleaders, should they be on the board?

- Too often staff and program people see themselves in completely different worlds. How often have you heard program people speak disparagingly about "the suits", or development people complain of the unrealistic demands of the field staff? An organization with a flourishing culture of philanthropy respects each other's work and worth. 

- A nonprofit will not survive if there is no trust.

- Does everyone at the nonprofit have the same vision, a sense of the mission, a passion for the organization's core story regarding why it exists? Do they appreciate the incredible impact it is having on their community or even the world? Is it a culture where each employee can't wait to go to work each day?

- Walk through your door some day with the mindset that you are a new visitor. How are you greeted by the first person you see? What kind of small talk happens in the hallway, in the lunchroom, around the water cooler? Is it whiny and critical or is it filled with positive enthusiasm. Office atmosphere has a way of creeping into all that you do, even your interactions with your supporters. Make sure it is filled with the same optimism, care, and compassion you bring to your mission.

These are great ways to ensure that your organization is fostering a culture of philanthropy. Be sure to check out the Passionate Giving blog for their next five installments.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Thinking Outside the Box: Donation Payments

I don't know about you but I don't keep a lot change -- or even cash -- in my pocket any more. I use my discount debit or cash rewards credit cards nearly exclusively. Recently, I have been wondering how that might affect charities that depend upon "point of sale" or impulse contributions.  How has that adversely affected an organization such as the Salvation Army and their extremely lucrative Red Kettle program. Even though Red Kettle contributions exceeded $147 million in 2011, how much revenue was lost because people don't have as much loose change?

Well, the Salvation Army isn't taking any chances and last year started using a device that can be plugged into a smart phone, an iPad, or an Android device and accept credit card donations on site. A volunteer can take a contribution with his left hand as he continues to the ring the kettle bell with his right. It is called Square and it was developed by Jack Dorsey, the fellow that created Twitter. Unlike the clumsy credit card machines that could barely be jerry-rigged on a remote site, Square is really simple. Plug the Square device into your smartphone's headphone jack.

You can then swipe your donor's card, punch in the payment or donation amount, and have the donor sign the touch screen. Done!

Pretty cool, huh?

There is another device that might just be a boon to nonprofits unwilling to leave even the smallest contribution on the table. It is called DipJar. DipJar was developed in 2008 by another enterprising entrepreneur, writer, and (aspiring) academic named Ryder Kessler. As the story goes, Kessler was at his favorite coffee house and remarked to one of the baristas that although the place was "crazy packed" that night, the tips must make up for the mayhem. He was shocked to learn that this wasn't the case and that gratuities had really plummeted in recent years. Apparently, few patrons had much pocket change since they were making their beverage purchases on plastic. Well, as any brilliant entrepreneur would do, Ryder decided that this problem needed a solution. Hence, DipJar was created.

DipJar is particularly spiffy because it blends high-tech with high-tactile. Its design is simple and familiar. Slide your card into the opening just like dropping a tip into a cup. DipJar is set up to accept $1 dollar donations for each dip or swipe but it could be modified to charge different amounts.

How could you use tools such as these to advance your fundraising? Let me know about great, outside the box ideas.

*Thinking Outside the Box is an occasional post about innovative possibilities in fundraising.