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Blog > Fostering a Culture of Philanthropy in your Organization

Fostering a Culture of Philanthropy in your Organization

posted on Aug 15, 2017

by Maria Lahiffe

“At the heart of every organization is its people. They create the culture and determine the direction that the organization takes, so if the people are not bought in to the fundraising process, then raising funds will always be an uphill climb. The key, therefore, is to encourage buy-in throughout the organization, from the Board onwards.” [1]

Mena Gainpaulsingh is a highly-regarded fundraising professional who writes and speaks extensively on this topic. She has a series of posts about involving your whole organization in fundraising, including one on signs your fundraising is in trouble and another on roles and responsibilities related to fundraising. Following is a précis of her article on how to build a culture of philanthropy in your organization.

Identify Barriers

You can’t build buy-in unless you know why it’s not there in the first place. Consult your staff, board, and key volunteers about their motivations, fears, and resistance. The consultation process itself, if you do it well, can be an opportunity to educate people about what fundraising really is, and what roles people can play to support it.

Confidentiality is key!

It is crucial that the consultation offer opportunities for people to give you their input confidentially, so that they can be completely truthful without fear of reprisal. That is the only way to really get to the bottom of what is standing in your way.

Ethical Policies

Fundraising buy-in often comes down to trust. Your stakeholders deserve to be confident that the fundraising team will treat their contacts with respect, and also that the needs of beneficiaries are at the heart of everything you do.

Strong ethical standards can help to build that confidence. For example, your stakeholders would be justifiably put off if the fundraising case for support portrayed your organization’s beneficiaries as people to be pitied, rather than strong human beings who need specific support in order to achieve certain goals. Similarly, everyone justifiably wants their contacts to be communicated with in a respectful manner.

You don’t need to start from scratch

The Association of Fundraising Professionals has some excellent guidance on developing policies, such as a Donor Bill of Rights and the Code of Ethical Standards. You can use these as models for your own policy development.

Help people understand the opportunity and the risks

Just as you work to demonstrate funding need to your donors, such as through your Case for Support, you may also need to work to demonstrate this need to your staff and key volunteers. It may not be obvious to everyone just how important fundraising is in making your organization tick.

Use your Case for Support internally

Massage your Case for Support to focus on your board, and a second time to focus on staff. The key messages and the statement of need will be the same, but you can give explicit, position-specific guidance on how each person can help your organization understand what they can do to help the process. Everyone wants the organization to do important work; help them understand what they can do, specifically, to support that important work.

Click here to read the rest of Mena’s post on this topic, or better yet, come to her upcoming seminar. She will discuss these key success factors and give you a chance to consult on how they fit into your unique organizational context.

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[1] M. Gainpaulsingh, "Part 2: Building a Culture of Philanthropy in your organization," Purposeful Fundraising, 21 April 2016. [Online]. Available: [Accessed 14 August 2017].
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