We are often asked “Why should we take the time to provide orientation and training to all of our staff and board towards a Culture of Philanthropy? Don’t we really just need our key leadership trained in donor relations?” Our answer is simple: Because creating and maintaining a culture of philanthropy is an all-encompassing team effort. The following case study is but one example illustrating how much impact even one training can have on your organization.
The Case Study
I am coaching an environmental education center as they launch their first-ever capital campaign. It is for a new large building to house their programs, get their staff out of a cold office trailer, create a year-round community center and establish a small endowment fund. I “convinced” their leadership to invite all the staff and all the board members to a morning orientation on “How to Build a Culture of Philanthropy“.
Several months go by and one of their staff educators is leading a paddle trip across north Wisconsin lake in a traditional Native American birch bark canoe . While the group paddles, she recalled my main message of “get to know your stakeholders”. So she made a point during the excursion strike up a conversation with one of the attendees. After doing so, she learned he was a seasoned architect and building developer. Then, she mentioned the strategic vision of creating a new facility.
Fast-forward a few months. That canoe paddler has donated close to $25, 000 of intensive, program-centric building design. He has enthusiastically worked with staff to re-design the facility with programming, client experience and staff needs in mind. And, he and his wife are ready to make a campaign contribution in the five figures.
How did this happen? A culture of philanthropy—at its core—is simply connecting with individuals on common values and offering an engagement opportunity in a shared vision for the community. In the real life example, a line of curious inquiry from the staff person to the program participant has lead to a partnership which transforms the organization and the individuals involved.
We strongly urge you to engage all staff and board members in the basic concept and action steps towards building a Culture of Philanthropy. Let’s not be shortsighted. Why bring all of your board and staff together on this approach? Seriously, why ever would you not?