I hope that through this series you have begun to understand how important it is to develop a healthy, vibrant culture of philanthropy in your organization. Actually, it’s beyond important. Richard and I believe that it will be crucial if your organization is to be around in the next 10 years.
Yes, it’s that serious.
Folks, our industry has been talking about how we have to be donor-centered and donor-focused for a long time now. We can’t just give lip service to this any longer. It’s not just about thanking donors properly or sending out “donor-focused” newsletters (although both are important.) It’s about acting on a belief that our donors are part of our mission.
If we could do that, we would see a radical change in the non-profit world…a change that would not only affect how non-profits work, but a change in how donors respond to the world’s needs.
I want to leave you with a number of ideas, in addition to what I’ve laid out in my previous posts on this series, about how you can begin to build this new culture within your organization. If you have any other ideas, we’d love for you to comment below and share your thoughts.
- New staff or board member need to be educated on the role the donor plays in the organization.
- All communication from the organization highlights not only the need, but also the donors who have made an impact on the organization.
- All staff meetings will have discussions about donors.
- Program folks need to understand they will work with development to meet, talk and ask donors for gifts.
- Development staff will work in the program to understand what it is they do.
- Over half of the president’s time is devoted to cultivating donors either on-site or wherever the donor is.
- All board members are required to spend time working with program and development staff.
- The organization creates multiple opportunities for staff, board and donors to engage together during the year.
- Development staff is constantly communicating to the rest of the organization about how they are engaging donors.
- Leadership is actually LEADING on this issue and inviting staff, board and donors to the table.
If your organization, its leadership and staff, can embrace these ideas you will be well situated for growth into the future. Failure to move in this direction will be perilous.
You may say, “I’m not a leader in the organization. What can I do about this? I know we’re going in the wrong direction, but no one will listen to me.”
I say, “Lead by example.” Start putting these ideas into practice for the area you can control. Extraordinary things will happen when you begin to show that leadership. Donors will become responsive to your actions.
People will notice the change.
Finally, start the conversation. Take a risk. You have the power to do it.