Surveys show that nonprofit organizations that are successful at fundraising fully embrace the value of philanthropy. They include it as part of their organizational culture. They understand it to mean more than simply “raising money.” They consider their volunteers to be part of the mechanism needed to fundraise, and they also view their employees in a similar manner.
Fostering a climate of giving, or culture of workplace philanthropy, requires certain steps be taken. The following five questions outline crucial elements of a climate of giving, and provide a starting point to evaluate whether your nonprofit organization is doing things correctly and doing more than just raising money.
- Does philanthropy have a prominent place in your strategic plan?
The development department should be perceived throughout the organization as a revenue center. Ensure that philanthropic contributions are reflected clearly in annual financial reports.
- Do board members share fundraising responsibility with development staff?
Board members working closely with development directors clearly indicates a healthy giving environment. Such cooperation is viewed as essential in fostering a strong philanthropic culture.
- Is the organization perceived favorably by the community it serves?
Establishing your organization as a model citizen means serving as a strong community asset and an information resource as well as volunteering in other worthwhile causes in the community. Increasing philanthropic revenue poses serious challenges for any institution suffering from unfavorable perceptions among the people and the community it serves.
- Is the executive director or chief executive officer a major proponent
of your philanthropic agenda?
Charismatic, fully engaged executive directors are well positioned to advance a philanthropic culture. Encourage them to give philanthropy a prominent place on staff and board meeting agendas and require that philanthropy be used as a criterion for board member selection.
- Is philanthropy visibly evident throughout the organization?
Provide a philanthropy update to staff members on a regular basis. In larger organizations, include a discussion of fundraising programs in employee orientations. Seek to include fund development information in every publication and on every brochure.
If you answered yes to these questions, your organization possesses the major attributes necessary for an institutional culture of philanthropy, and a high level of fundraising performance. Your answers may also indicate areas for improvement. By establishing the importance of a culture of philanthropy, you will position your organization as a leader in providing the means to fulfill your mission—a leader with a giving heart.
Custom Development Solutions, Inc. (CDS) is one of the most sought after fundraising consulting firms specializing in the strategic planning and tactical execution of capital campaigns for non-profits throughout the United States and Canada. If you have a fundraising question, please call CDS at 800-761-3833 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.