This week, we’ve shared 3 blogs in 3 days outlining Three EASY to Achieve Culture of Philanthropy Goals That You Can Take On for 2021. Using the Robert Gass Wheel of Change, we have already explored two of the three domains: Hearts & Minds and Structures. Today we dig into Behavior.
Behavior is what we do. All of us can take on behaviors supporting a Culture of Philanthropy. Consider the following activities that you could do (by role):
Strengthen your relationship with development staff. One of the most important
indicators of a healthy Culture of Philanthropy is a strong team approach between development
staff and the executive director. Exercise that organizational muscle. What would that look like?
In an ideal culture, you would establish a weekly meeting between yourself and your top
development professional that does major donor work.
If you don’t have this already, build plans for each of your major donors. Decide upon the
best staff person to be the main contact. As the executive director, you should have a group of
people that are assigned to you. During each meeting, go over your list of top donors and
strategize how to implement your plans. Use this time to support each other in moving forward.
If you don’t have a strong partnership currently with development, you might start by
asking them how it’s going. Find out what they need. What is working about their job? How can
you help make it easier? Do they have the right tools? Move toward building individual plans for
your top donors.
Insist that development be part of your senior leadership team. This will make a
significant positive impact on building your Culture of Philanthropy. By having a development
professional in this leadership role, you can make serious headway in breaking down silos and
integrating development into all parts of your agency. Why is this so important? Development
will be able to do their job better (securing funding) if they know the most exciting and
challenging things happening throughout your organization. It will also enhance their
effectiveness if they have the relationship with the other leaders to be able to passionately
communicate the on-the-ground-stories. It goes the other way as well. Program, administration,
and operations staff will learn what is involved in donor relations and will be able to make
connections and assist in donor engagement.
Get brilliant at telling your organizational story. If you are not already embedding the
success stories of your organization into donor communications, make it happen. Be curious and
get to know the program staff on every level. Ask a lot of questions. Ask them about what they
like about their job and how it makes a difference. Ask about the impact on the people you serve.
Focus on stewardship by making a year long stewardship plan (this combines the
domains of Structures with Behavior from the Wheel of Change). It is the number one way
you can retain your donors. They want to know that the money they invest in your agency is
making a difference. Show them. For your top donors, be specific. Make a plan for how you will
do broad spectrum stewardship in mass communications, as well as more specific acts of
appreciation for your largest donors.
Board of Directors:
Lead in culture change. As an organizational leader, you have a tremendous amount of
influence about the culture of your organization. If you consistently bring up development and
take aligned actions, you are exhibiting a deep support for the mission of your organization.
Have meetings with the development staff and executive director to brainstorm ways to model
powerful board engagement with fundraising. How can you lead your team (whether you are the
board chair or not) in assisting with donor stewardship?
Establish a Culture of Philanthropy Committee. You don’t have to be an expert on the
topic to get started. Choose a blog from the Rainmaker website. Here is one that you could use
at your next meeting. Have people read it before the meeting and take 15 minutes to discuss how
it relates to your organization. Do this at each board meeting for a Culture of Philanthropy
No matter who you are, a board member, an executive director, or a development professional
there are countless goals you could work on this year. I hope that you embrace at least one! Let
us know what you take on, and how it goes. Feel free to reach out with any questions you might