GuideStar Blog

Do You Have a Culture of Philanthropy?

We’re all in development. It doesn’t matter if you are the CEO, major gift officer, program director, communications VP, CFO or Board chair, we are all in fundraising. We may not all be soliciting gifts but we are all in development.

I train people to become great fundraisers at Pursuant. Often in the middle of a training at a client site a staff members hand will go up and in a shaky, unsteady voice they begin, “I’m not in development, but…”

The truth is that every person in your organization has a role to play in fundraising. Naturally, it makes sense that fundraising would work infinitely better when everyone sees the value of philanthropy. This is why creating a culture of philanthropy is so important. Creating a culture of philanthropy isn’t about making everyone a fundraiser. A culture of philanthropy is one where everyone’s focus is on the mission, vision and values of the organization and the role of philanthropy in fulfilling that mission is embraced.

The best laid plans can go awry but in fundraising we risk our focus drifting from serving our mission to just filling budgetary gaps. My colleague Gary Cole explores what happens when board and internal conversations shift to from serving the mission to serving the organizational needs in his Rethinking a Culture of Philanthropy whitepaper.

So, how do we stay true to our mission? How can we avoid mission creep by chasing funding? How do we engage everyone to embrace the role of philanthropy?

It starts with knowing what we stand for and having core values that reflect who we are and the values we hold dear. These are the beliefs we have about ourselves, our purpose and our values that underlie every choice we make. The next layer is our fundraising philosophy of how we will treat our donors. Everything, from our proposals to our messaging is centered around nurturing a relationship with donors based on trust and partnership. We tell them how they are making an impact and we honor their wishes.

Curious how your organization stacks up? Ask yourself these true/false questions:

  1. Most people in the organization act as ambassadors and build relationships.
  2. Everyone in the organization can articulate a case for giving.
  3. Fundraising is perceived as a mission aligned part of our organization.
  4. We put the donor’s needs first and our internal systems support this.
  5. Our leader is personally involved in fundraising.

Rome wasn’t conquered in a day and building a culture of philanthropy takes time! If you want to learn how to create a culture of philanthropy at your organization please join us for a free webinar on Wednesday June 25th at 12pm CDT. You’ll hear lots of tips from the trenches and walk away with key insights to start your transformation.

The preceding is a guest post by Rachel Muir, CFRE and Vice President of Training at Pursuant where she transforms individuals into confident, successful fundraisers. When she was 26 years old, Rachel Muir launched Girlstart, a non-profit organization to empower girls in math, science, engineering and technology in the living room of her apartment with $500 and a credit card. Several years later she had raised over 10 million dollars and was featured on Oprah, CNN, and the Today show. Follow Pursuant on Twitter @pursuant, and Rachel Muir @rachelmuir.

Topics: Nonprofit Leadership and Practice