by Dan Schipp
JGA regularly works with clients seeking to build organization-wide ownership of their development programs. It’s a challenge many not-for-profits face.
How do you get people throughout the organization – board, administration, program staff, and support personnel – to “own” and participate in fundraising? How do you create a culture of philanthropy?
When working with organizations I encourage them to think about three key factors in expanding ownership of fundraising beyond just the “development people.”
- Articulating philanthropy’s role in advancing the organization’s mission and values. Staff need to be able to see how fundraising “fits” with the organization and how fundraising is essential and noble work. The more you help all staff understand that development enables the organization to sustain and strengthen, enhance and expand its service of others, the more cooperation and ownership you’ll encourage.
- Creating opportunities to engage in development activities. There are many powerful ways for staff, board, and volunteers to participate in development activities ranging from identifying potential donors, to cultivating relationships, to soliciting gifts, to thanking and stewarding donors. One of the clients we are currently working with – a community of women religious – involves a number of its retired sisters in the cultivation of donors through ongoing correspondence, email, and phone calls. Another has put in the job description of every employee an expectation that each co-worker will devote at least 10% of his/her work hours to development-related activities, appropriate to the positon the individual holds in the organization.
- Apprising internal constituents of development’s goals, progress, and impact. Share the stories of donors, the individuals whose lives have been changed by the donors’ gifts, and the internal constituents who had a role in bringing about the donors’ gifts. These stories help to impress upon individuals within the organization the difference their actions, words, and witness can make in bringing about gifts to the organization. Clear and regular communication about the dollars raised, the people engaged with the organization, the benefits to programs, and the individuals assisted is essential to keeping your entire team engaged in development.
Those organizations that don’t apologize for fundraising but fully embrace it and intentionally work at building an internal culture of philanthropy put themselves in the best position to succeed. In those organizations, all members recognize that they have a vested interest in development, they step up to play their appropriate fundraising roles, whether direct or indirect, and they are well informed of development’s goals, challenges, achievements, and impact.