5 Ways to Build a Culture of Philanthropy at Your Organization
Type “culture of philanthropy” into your browser and you’ll find article after article about why it’s important to build one. And it’s true. Having a culture of philanthropy at your nonprofit is crucial to fundraising success.
But what does it really mean? How DO you build a culture of philanthropy?
On the most basic level, a culture of philanthropy exists when everyone in your organization understands that they are responsible for fundraising and agrees that it’s a priority – not just the fundraiser and Executive Director. An organization with a healthy culture of philanthropy will see fundraising success which means stable programs and the opportunity for organizational growth.
Here are five concrete ways you can start building a culture of philanthropy at your charity:
1. Start at the top
Your Executive Director and Board need to lead in building this culture. Your leadership should be setting the example for the rest of your employees. This means they should be donors to your cause, active networkers, and supporters of investing in fundraising at your organization. If your board is new to fundraising, consider hiring a consultant to help train them, or find an online resource to get them started.
2. Include the fundraising perspective
Fundraising staff must be included in all planning processes for your organization. If you don’t have fundraising staff, make sure to think about your plans from a fundraising perspective. Is the program you’re planning something that would excite a donor? Will the new policies you’re implementing put up barriers to raising money?
3. Train all employees and volunteers on how they can help support fundraising efforts
Your employees and volunteers should know exactly how they can help support fundraising. What this looks like can vary across organizations. It might include staff conducting or participating in donor tours, or training staff in data collection and analysis that can inform funding proposals and reports. It could also mean getting employees to tap into their networks or hosting third party events. Or it could mean encouraging employees to share your content online and participate in campaigns.
4. Build relationships between frontline staff and development staff
Relationship-building is one of the pillars of fundraising, and it’s no different within your organization. Tear down those silos between program and fundraising staff by getting everyone one excited about a common vision. Try some teambuilding activities to encourage employees to work together across departments. Some organizations even incentivize cross-department collaboration with gift cards and other reward systems. And when program staff help out, make sure your fundraisers report back to them, just as they would with a donor.
5. Create the expectation that all staff must contribute
In a culture of philanthropy, it’s expected that all employees must contribute to fundraising in some way, shape, or form. If your organization has a formal performance review process, consider adding fundraising support to your performance requirements. Make sure your managers and supervisors understand their roles in supporting this culture, and give them the tools and resources they need to support their staff.
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