12 Steps to Building a Staff Culture of Philanthropy
We recently completed an advancement plan for a college. During this process, we held focus groups with faculty by department, as well as surveyed the entire faculty and staff.
The faculty—who are on the front lines of connecting with the industry, as well as knowing students and alumni and the resources they are connected to—had no understanding of how the fundraising functioned, felt that they had no support in developing corporate partnerships, and shared that effort to help with fundraising were not rewarded, and did not help with tenure and advancement.
Wow. Needless to say, this college had not built a culture of philanthropy. And one of its goals was to build a major-gifts pipeline and focus on corporate partnerships. It has a lot of work to do and changes to make.
What does a culture of philanthropy mean for your organization’s staff? Here are 12 steps to building that culture:
- Provide incentives and build an appropriate philanthropic role into job descriptions and evaluations.
- Share regular updates on what is happening in fundraising with your staff.
- Hold an annual staff giving campaign with a well-defined case, and appropriate follow-up. If possible, allow your staff to earmark gifts to programs of interest to them.
- Consider adding a small portfolio of prospective donors—of their choosing—to the responsibility of your senior staff. If you do this, be sure that you can provide the training, support and tracking needed.
- Include philanthropy as a part of your new employee orientation program.
- Provide regular updates on fundraising at staff meetings—sharing more at higher levels.
- Have systems in place to engage and reward staff for sharing mission impact stories.
- Hold annual training sessions for senior staff on basic fundraising principles and your plans.
- Meet regularly face-to-face with your senior staff to personally update and engage them in fundraising.
- Build a program for retirees. They can be among the strongest supporters of your worthy cause.
- Engage your staff in your donor relations program—in recognizing and thanking your donors.
- Tailor your donor relations program to ensure that you are appropriately recognizing and thanking your staff.
We have limited resources in fundraising. A key to success it to have a staff culture of philanthropy where your colleagues across the organization understand the importance of philanthropy and the valuable role that they can play to further the success of your organization.
Looking for Jeff? You'll find him either on the lake, laughing with good friends, or helping nonprofits develop to their full potential.
Jeff believes that successful fundraising is built on a bedrock of relevant, consistent messaging; sound practices; the nurturing of relationships; and impeccable stewardship. And that organizations that adhere to those standards serve as beacons to others that aspire to them. The Bedrocks & Beacons blog will provide strategic information to help nonprofits be both.
Jeff has more than 25 years of nonprofit leadership experience and is a member of the NonProfit PRO Editorial Advisory Board.