How to Build a Culture of Philanthropy

We work with non-profits across the country on capital campaigns, feasibility studies, and strategic planning sessions. Most often, the top concern for organizations is that a culture of philanthropy doesn’t exist, and they do not know how to build one.  With that in mind, we came up with four simple actionable steps a non-profit can take today to build a culture that is both proactive and sustainable.

  1. Regular Philanthropic Education for the Board: THG conducts several strategic planning sessions a year, but even if you don’t want to conduct a formal session you can still make philanthropic education a regular part of your board meetings. Your Board should know the importance of things such as 100% Board giving (often, foundations will not make gifts to an organization unless their board gives at 100%), the sources of philanthropy (this is data provided by Giving USA annually, and states approximately 85% of all giving comes not from foundations and corporations but from individuals), and other relevant factors concerning philanthropy.
  2. Board Messaging Sessions: Every board member should be a brand ambassador for your nonprofit. To attain this goal, regular training is required. Staff should inform the board on success stories with their client base, develop a brochure or one-pager to capture the nonprofit’s vision, and establish an information repository system (i.e., Dropbox) where the board can easily access this type of information. Additionally, hosting experiential activities where the board can interact with the client base, and sharing the mission and vision of the organization regularly at board meetings can help cultivate this culture of philanthropy.
  3. Data is Everything: We at THG say if a contribution was made or an event occurred and it wasn’t entered into a CRM (Client Relationship Management) tool, it doesn’t exist. Every successful organization has invested time and money into a CRM that captures three items for all contacts: demographic metrics (name, age, etc.), relationship metrics (did they attend a certain event, donate because of a particular event, etc.), and engagement metrics (have you spoken to them recently? Where does their grandchild go to school?). This data is pivotal to building a long-term relationship with donors.
  4. Treat Donors Like People, NOT an ATM: Having a CRM is also key in making sure your donors feel like more than just ATMs for your organization. Make sure to speak to your donors regularly, without asking for money. Provide them updates on your organization so they understand how valuable they are to your success. Given that donor retention is significantly less expensive than donor acquisition, ensuring your donors maintain a positive impression of your organization is vital in maintaining and building donor relationships.

These are a few tips for you to utilize to begin building a culture of philanthropy. Contact us today if you are ready to become Hyper about Philanthropy.