Building a Culture of Philanthropy
Are you the sole person responsible for fundraising in your organization? Running a one-person development department can feel like you're spinning 10 glass plates in the air. You're the grant proposal writer, database administrator, director of individual gifts, webmaster, event planner, social-media director and more! And every day it seems as if "they" — the trendsetters — are dangling more bright, shiny objects in front of your face.
When this topic recently came into scrutiny in a LinkedIn discussion, I found one respondent's answers so telling that I asked for permission to reprint. Frank Donaldson, president at the Institute of School & Parish Development in the New Orleans area, offered his thoughts on why development staff turnover is so great within Catholic institutions.
- The leadership of the Catholic institution (pastor, principal, board, pastoral council) does not really understand development.
- Everything is measured by the amount of immediate money that "must" be raised.
- There is no written strategic plan in place with measurable, reasonable outcomes.
- No training is provided for new development directors and continued professional growth.
- The development director is hired, and the people who have been involved in the past seem to wash their hands of the responsibilities and take the attitude, "I'm glad that's out of my court."
- The entire effort is simply one fundraiser after another fundraiser, and the "nickel-and-dime" mentality never ceases. Total burnout.
- Too many "guarded kingdoms" to overcome. Therefore there's a lack of acceptance of the new development director's vitality, energy and creativity.
- Not enough team building on all fronts, and this is really all about people engagement.
I think Donaldson absolutely nailed it — and I don't believe that these eight reasons are limited to Catholic institutions.
The good news?
You can avoid many of these pitfalls by heading them off at the gate. How? Start by creating a culture of philanthropy within your organization.
Pamela Grow is the publisher of The Grow Report, the author of Simple Development Systems and the founder of Simple Development Systems: The Membership Program and Basics & More fundraising fundamentals e-courses. She has been helping small nonprofits raise dramatically more money for over 15 years, and was named one of the 50 Most Influential Fundraisers by Civil Society magazine, and one of the 40 Most Effective Fundraising Consultants by The Michael Chatman Giving Show.