This is blog number 2 in a 5-part series on The 5 Points of Possibility and how you can implement them in your organization. Today I will expand on Point 2, “everyone shares some responsibility for a Culture of Philanthropy”.
The 5 Points of Possibility
- Culture of Philanthropy Is Integral to Our Mission
- Everyone Shares Some Responsibility for a Culture of Philanthropy
- We Build and Maintain Deep Donor Relationships and Partnerships
- Community Engagement Is What We Do
- We Recognize Every Contribution of Service, Items or Money as an Expression of Philanthropy
Everyone Can Share in the Success When Everyone Shares Some Responsibility for a Culture of Philanthropy
There are countless ways in which your staff, volunteers, and board members can partner with your development staff, in order for them to own some of the success associated with building a Culture of Philanthropy. One of the best strategies is to get to better know your staff and volunteers and find out what they have in abundance. Discover what will make their hearts sing and also be relevant and useful to your development efforts. Is it hosting a gathering for donors? Connecting the agency to a businessperson who can give a needed pro bono or discounted service? Being the grill master at a BBQ? Providing a homemade microbrew at a gathering? Volunteering to build something for the agency? Perhaps someone is a DJ or a musician or a comedian who can provide entertainment at an event. When you are able to successfully match peoples’ talents and interests, it not only empowers them but deepens their engagement with your organization. (Read this related article by bestselling author and consultant Lindsay McGregor at https://apple.news/AYKYQaAqqSsyn7ifjpjiztw.)
You will find more ideas you can adopt throughout Choose Abundance, including the chapters in Part 4, where I focus on distinct roles. Before diving deeper into distinct roles in a Culture of Philanthropy, here are a few more things to consider:
What if there was a true partnership between the Executive Director and the development staff?
In the healthiest organizations I’ve observed, the Executive Director and the lead development professional meet weekly. They partner deeply. They take turns leading at different times, and support each other in achieving their goals. Each has a portfolio of major donors, whom they cultivate and steward. They use real data to determine which efforts have the best return on investment (ROI).
- What would that look like in your organization?
- How often would you meet?
- What would you work on together?
Ideas to Impact Hearts & Minds Agency-wide to Build a Culture of Philanthropy
In order for a Culture of Philanthropy to be successful, everyone involved needs to understand the values and behaviors associated with the culture. As I’ve mentioned, these values, attitudes, and behaviors are grounded in the Hearts & Minds domain from the Wheel of Change. Therefore, change needs to be addressed at this level. The following are some ideas to consider in order to ensure that behaviors, plans, and actions are consistent with your vision of a Culture of Philanthropy:
- Discuss a Culture of Philanthropy when you interview new staff and board members.
- Provide Culture of Philanthropy trainings for your board and staff members, in order to change some of their opinions, thoughts and attitudes about development.
- Integrate a Culture of Philanthropy training into your onboarding process for new board members and staff members. This could not only bring new members up to speed, but also maintain a critical mass of individuals who are steeped in shared language and understanding.
- Encourage the board to create a Culture of Philanthropy Committee. Ensure there are Culture of Philanthropy updates at each board meeting. Have the board consider organizational benchmarks in the light of whether they are consistent with a Culture of Philanthropy.
- Develop a process for gathering firsthand stories of success (Mission Moments) in your agency to share.
Pitfalls to avoid in Point of Possibility 2:
- Don’t force people to participate in development work! It can result in more harm than good. Think about when you are forced to do something that doesn’t resonate with you, or to give something that you feel you have a scarcity of—you likely feel pressured. When you are pressured to do something, it does not create warm and fuzzy feelings. On the contrary, it could make you reject the idea all together.
- After people are enrolled in taking on a Culture of Philanthropy role, be sure to have an accountability structure in place. If you adopt new behaviors without a support structure, your efforts may not only fail but also reinforce the idea that change is hard…and maybe even impossible.
- Don’t start board engagement in a Culture of Philanthropy by encouraging or even training board members to ask for money. This is the wrong starting point and it will backfire. Learn from others’ mistakes and don’t do it! Instead, begin by focusing on Mission Moments. Read how one of my clients put a powerful strategy in place by sharing inspiring success stories at meetings, in Chapter 8 of Choose Abundance, under Point of Possibility 2.
- Don’t start staff engagement in a Culture of Philanthropy by pressuring them to give money. Again, I’ve seen this done, and it backfires!
One of the beautiful things about a Culture of Philanthropy is that it is inclusive and offers opportunities for people to connect, build partnerships, and share in the joys of success. In this model, everyone has something to offer. To get more ideas, go to our book hub and download Community Roles for Supporting a Culture of Philanthropy. Stay tuned for the next blog for details on Point of Possibility 3: We Build and Maintain Deep Donor Relationships and Partnerships.