Building a Culture of Philanthropy
What are some ways you can begin to lead?
1. Ask a program staff member his or her advice on an appeal letter. People love it when you ask their advice, and it's a lesson in the importance of story gathering. Please note that I didn't advise you to necessarily take their advice.
2. When you receive special "thank-yous" from clients, copy them and send them on to board members.
3. Keep a desk drawer full of cards — birthday, anniversary or "just because" — to send to your board members.
4. Schedule thank-a-thons, where your board members pen thank-you notes to donors. Make it a fun experience by scheduling 20 to 30 minutes within the course of a board meeting, serving refreshments.
5. Spend one-on-one time with board members getting to know them individually.
6. At every staff and board meeting, share your latest "story," whether it's about one of your agency's clients, a donor or even a recent visitor to your organization. Encourage staff members to share their stories as well.
7. Shadow a member of your program staff for several hours or even a day.
8. Think outside of the proverbial box. Recently I attended a United Way branding workshop on behalf of a client. Among the participants, I was delighted to see that one organization had sent program staff in lieu of marketing or development staff. I spent some time chatting with the program staffers, and it was clearly an eye-opening experience for them in terms of how they could better share their own work with their development department.
9. This tip came via my friend Andrea Kihlstedt, principal of nonprofit consulting firm The Kihlstedt Group. Create a habit of celebrating every little success. When you reach 100 percent board participation, celebrate it — perhaps with a pizza party at your next board meeting or by breaking out a bottle of champagne! Has a board member brought in three new donors? Send a thank-you gift or present a token of your gratitude publicly at your next board meeting. Celebrate what you want to see more of!
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.