Fundraising can sometimes be viewed as a means to an end within nonprofits. Silos may exist between program, development, and finance staff and cross-departmental collaboration may be limited or nonexistent.
Does this sound familiar?
All nonprofits require fundraising to exist. However, the word fundraising on its own may cause misconceptions for those that have not been trained or versed in the field. To shift an organization’s mindset about fundraising, nonprofits must develop a culture of philanthropy.
A culture of philanthropy refers to an organization’s attitude toward philanthropy and fundraising. It is a mindset and behavior that recognizes the importance of philanthropy to delivering the mission.
To create a culture of philanthropy, everyone within the organization must understand that philanthropy isn’t just about raising money to raise money — it’s what makes the work of the organization possible.
With this understanding, everyone within the organization must serve as an ambassador for philanthropy. From finance staff to the board chair and everyone in between, there is a role to play.
Program staff isn’t only responsible for delivering services. Finance isn’t only responsible for budgeting. Facilities teams aren’t only responsible for maintaining the building. They are responsible for all those things and creating, cultivating, and participating in a culture of philanthropy. Otherwise, you risk losing donors, losing funding, and not being able to fulfill the mission.
At the board level, a culture of philanthropy correlates with the board’s role and responsibility to “Ensure Adequate Financial Resources” per BoardSource. To achieve this role while cultivating a culture of philanthropy, every board member is expected to make a personal gift and assist in raising resources from current and potential stakeholders.
Among staff, the development team can create a culture of philanthropy within their individual roles. For instance, grants managers can lead a grants management work group that consists of representatives from program, finance, and development who meet regularly to coordinate the grants process. The work group creates transparency among those responsible for implementing the project, managing the financial aspects of the grant, and keeping team members informed of progress, which helps nondevelopment staff understand their role in philanthropy.
In creating a culture of philanthropy, everyone within the organization:
- Creates and builds lasting relationships.
- Understands the need to raise money and knows their role.
- Serves as a mission ambassador, helping to identify new prospects.
- Can articulate the mission and answer basic questions about mission, programs, and finances.
Ultimately, when a culture of philanthropy is created and embraced, the organization is more effective at delivering the mission.
Article by: Jenny Bergman, Director of Communications and Operations and Morgan Veach Kerns, Assistant Director of Communications