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.

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