At Rainmaker we talk a lot about building a Culture of Philanthropy. Personally, I love talking about it, I love training people on it, and mostly I love the breakthroughs it provides to organizations who embrace it. But periodically people get stuck with the name. “What does this mean?” “I know what a philanthropist is, Bill Gates!! If I only knew him!” “Let’s go find a rich person!” “Let’s make everyone in our organization ask for money, that’ll do it!” “I just don’t relate to this phrase Culture of Philanthropy, let’s rename it!”
Well after hearing from a number of skeptics, I got overwhelmingly frustrated. I GIVE UP! (I said quietly to my husband – not too loud and not where others would hear me). Hmmm….smells like a breakdown to me. And I know when there is a breakdown, there is a breakthrough lurking around the corner!
Then, my husband said something quite insightful… “If you’re pushing to do something revolutionary, you shouldn’t be surprised that there is opposition! If it was an ordinary idea, no one would be resisting it! It’s the fact that it pushes people into the extraordinary that gets people riled up or has them resort to confusion.” That was exactly what I needed to hear. His words connected me back to my vision. Furthermore, they inspired me to get into action and had me get in touch with just how powerful a Culture of Philanthropy can be. This scenario had the Rainmakers start to really look at some questions. How do we share what this Culture of Philanthropy thing is, and how does it help create breakthroughs? And specifically, what breakthroughs have our clients achieved?
Rainmaker utilizes Robert Gass’ Wheel of Change, designed to better understand culture and to produce the desired result. The Wheel of Change is the synergy of three domains: Hearts and Minds, Structures, and Behavior. So, we went back to our clients to see where they advanced their organization toward building a Culture of Philanthropy.
Specifically, we asked our clients these questions about their own breakthroughs:
Where did your organization shift regarding Hearts and Minds?
- We used to perceive fundraising as a ‘necessary evil’. Now, we see that donors are partners who are invested in our vision.
- As the executive director, I see my partnership with the development director as a critical one. I used to expect the development professionals to save me from doing any fundraising.
- We stopped seeing development just in dollars and cents. Now instead, we embrace the various resources that everyone brings to the table.
- We pay attention to the language we use and the attitudes we have about fundraising, about money, and about donors.
Where did your organization shift regarding Structures?
- We are buying a relationship database and have committed to updating the donor record after every donor interaction.
- Now, we have weekly time for the executive director and the development director to plan next steps in fund development.
- We have a whiteboard in the staff room where they share the stories they experience on the front line of the organization. In our staff meetings, we ask them to tell the story to all of us. This inspires us all to share the stories in our community too.
- We are setting aside time every week to make individual plans for every major donor.
- The board has now set aside 15-20 minutes in its agenda for the “Development Minutes” at the beginning of every board meeting…this is a radical departure from the old habit of having a development report at the end of every board meeting.
Where did your organization shift regarding Behavior?
- For the first time, we invited community members to be part of our strategic planning process. It allowed us to get to know people in the community better and they loved contributing their ideas to our work. As a result, these folks will ultimately become ambassadors for our mission.
- We now have every board member trained to articulate the moving and exciting stories about how the organization makes a difference.
- When we meet with donors, instead of being focused on “getting the gift”, we ask questions, intent on learning what this person is about, and what they have in abundance that they would like to share with us. Since then, we’ve gotten wonderful resources such as great advice, connections to others in our town, legal advice, auction items, people hosting their homes for gatherings, and the list goes on!
- As the executive director, I’ve committed a significant part of each week to development efforts. I see this as a critical part of me creating a movement around our mission.
- Thanking people used to be just an activity of the development staff. Now, we have tools in place where any staff person or any board member can acknowledge the resources that people contribute to our organization. This also includes when people have given advice, their time, their ideas, and their skills (leadership, technical, crafts, or facilitation).
What do you do when you ‘give up’? Do you have someone who supports you in getting in touch with your vision and helps you move to breakthroughs from a breakdown? If not, call Rainmaker.