What's a Culture of Philanthropy?

A Culture of Philanthropy exists when organization-wide attitudes, actions and systems reflect an understanding, respect and responsibility for philanthropy’s role in the success of the organization. 

Philanthropy, defined as ‘love of human kind’, is the generous way that community members can advance the cause, and can be expressed in financial gifts, volunteering, community engagement and in many creative forms of big-heartedness. This organization wide commitment to building a culture that fosters philanthropy is reflected explicitly in the mission and reinforced through continuous engagement of all stakeholders. As a result, each person sees their vital role in assuring the long-term viability of the agency.

Believe it or not, it’s not about money. It’s about empowering those in your organization—from staff to board members to donors and volunteers—and inviting them to eagerly be part of the mission. Every person understands the role she plays in sharing the power of your organization with others. It’s about authentic relationships and meaningful engagement. When you work to create such a culture, it eventually leads to more money. A lot more money, with greater ease and more fun. Bottom line, we can help you determine where you are on track to build a Culture of Philanthropy, and help you create a path to abundant resources for your organization.

We need a feasibility study for our upcoming capital campaign. Do you do this kind of work?

Why would you hire a complete stranger to meet with your most valued donors?

We think that the traditional feasibility study—as they have been done for years—is a generally ineffective way to determine how much funding you can secure for a capital project (or any other project). We don’t buy the idea that potential donors will be more candid and forthcoming with an independent consultant about their intent to support your organization. Imagine an independent consultant being hired to find out what your friends think of you, when you could just ask them for honest feedback yourself! So, we think traditional feasibility studies are a waste of your precious time and money.

What we think does work is for organizational leadership—staff, board members, volunteers—to interview the top prospective donors and engage with local community leaders about proposed major campaigns. We’ll teach you how to do this. Our approach enables you to connect with your prospects and introduce them to your future thinking. In the process, you will learn about what they are focused on, what matters to them, and have the opportunity to directly connect with your potential supporters. This way, your leaders will be well-trained and ready to succeed in the campaign fundraising stage. And your potential donors will be readier to invest in your vision when the time comes to ask for their support.

I’ve been an executive director for 10 years and in my field for even longer. Why do I need executive coaching?

Even seasoned professionals have something to learn. After winning two Masters Tournaments, Tiger Woods went back to a swing coach. And Neal Peart, drummer for the band Rush, took lessons from a jazz drummer in New York City to “re-learn” drumming even after being rated one of the “Top 10 Rock Drummers of All Time.” The best professionals seek ongoing development and support so that they can keep improving their performance.

We have seen that dozens of executive leaders—development directors, executive directors, board presidents—have found executive coaching with Rainmaker to be useful in navigating new challenges, changing their style to support organizational growth, and having a trusted, confidential ‘sounding board” in dealing with situations they can’t discuss with peers or subordinates.

All of the Rainmakers have served in executive roles at organizations of varying sizes and stages of development. While we may not have experienced your exact scenario, we definitely have been there, done that, gotten the T-shirt.

My board of directors is burned out. All we really need is some new money (by next week). Can you help with that?

Uh, probably not. As with all organizational success, it takes time and effort to effectively create what we call a Culture of Philanthropy. Rainmaker works with our clients to undertake a full organizational Assessment to ensure that you are well-positioned for fundraising. We make sure you have the right leadership and good systems in place, and then design a development strategy that will help ensure your long-term success.

Is Rainmaker going to help us raise a lot money?

Well, yes! But, we’re not going to do it for you. We’ll do it with you.

How long does a strategic plan take to complete?

The short answer is: It depends. We use a range of models for strategic planning. Some span a few months and, others, as long as a year, depending on the depth you want to explore and the complexity of your organization. One thing to consider is that a super-short intensive process may be helpful in looking at critical strategic issues, but that might not engage external stakeholders or give your organizational leadership the context it needs to make good decisions. At the same time, you don’t want the process to be so laborious that you suffer from Analysis Paralysis. (Studies show that good decision-making is not helped by over-thinking a problem.) Rainmaker will work with you to design an effective strategic planning process that suits your organization.

How much does Rainmaker charge per hour?

We don’t typically bill clients based on an hourly wage. We structure our fees around the scope of work, project period, project complexity, and other relevant factors. Not unlike other consulting engagements—such as building a new website or replacing a roof—we contract to complete the work that’s needed and deliver on that result, regardless of how much time it takes us to complete it successfully. We’re a results-oriented firm, and will do what it takes to get the job done well.

Does Rainmaker have funding leads or an Excel spreadsheet of prospects that you can provide us with?

In a word: “Nope.” We work with our clients to identify individuals, foundations, corporations, and others to support your specific mission and programs. We build on your prospecting and cultivation and work with you to create an effective fundraising strategy for ranking, cultivating, soliciting, and stewarding your prospects. We also do not share your prospects with others.

We have worked with consultants before, and it was generally a waste of our time and money. Why should we try doing this again?

Consulting engagements can succeed—or fail—for a number of reasons, some related to the organization and some to the consultant. At Rainmaker, many of our clients have worked with consultants before, sometimes with huge success, other times with disappointing results.

If we’re wasting your time, then we’re also wasting our time, and that’s not how we roll.

We’re committed to learning from your previous consulting experiences—what worked well? What didn’t work? Why? What useful products were developed, such as strategic plans, program assessments, or financial analysis? Then we’ll be able to target our efforts and approach to meet your specific needs in ways that really work for you and your team. And if we don’t think we’re the right fit for your needs at this time, we’ll tell you that and refer you to another consultant we respect.

What reasons might there be to choose not to work with Rainmaker?

You should not work with us if:

  • You were coerced into hiring a consultant by your board president or executive director. We only want to work with clients who think engaging with a consultant is a good idea.
  • You are not genuinely committed to working hard to improve your organization. We will work hard with you, but need you to be ready, willing, and able to engage.
  • You want instant results. Organizational progress is not “Add water and stir.” Rainmaker is committed to creating long-term positive impact for your organization. That takes time and sustained effort.
  • You’re looking for a Band-Aid rather than to address root causes of organizational struggles. Rainmaker doesn’t offer ways to cover up your challenges, we encourage customized solutions that help eliminate the root causes of your pain.
  • You don’t have time to commit to the project. All consulting engagements require time away from, or in addition to, your daily responsibilities.
  • You are not coachable. If you think you have nothing to learn, then you’re probably right.

Are you ready for Rainmaker? If these points don’t describe you, and you’re ready to experience breakthrough results, you should definitely consider working with us!