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  • Wednesday, January 17, 2018 1:43 PM | Sharon Castle (Administrator)




    Sharon Castle

    Capacity Builder

    Sharon@nonprofnetwork.org





    “One of the things we often miss in succession planning is that it should be gradual and thoughtful, with lots of sharing of information and knowledge and perspective, so that it’s almost a non-event when it happens.”

    -Anne M. Mulcahy, Former CEO and Chairwoman, Xerox


    As we enter a new year, it seems all but impossible to not think about ways in which we hope to improve over the past and establish good habits. The challenge, of course, is sticking to our resolutions and embedding them into our lives so a year from now we can look back with the pride of knowing at least one of our resolutions stuck. 


    Here’s a resolution challenge for 2018: succession planning.


    Succession planning doesn’t just happen, but (and this is a big BUT) it doesn’t have to, and frankly, shouldn’t be a separate organizational activity. Upon realizing we are all dispensable and “things” happen, one habit I developed many years ago, was to always do my work so that anyone could take over at any time. Not only was a succession planning mindset great for the organization, but it also benefited me personally. 


    Think about the planning you have to do before going on vacation, taking maternity/paternity leave or caring for an ill child or parent. If you create succession habits regularly, anyone should be able to pick up the mantle of your job.


    Throughout my career. folks who took over positions from which I moved on have gone out of their way to thank me for “leaving a trail that was easy to follow.” How did I do it? It was easy once I approached my job with a succession planning mindset. In this digital age, it is easier than ever to insure that our successors have every advantage at succeeding.


    So, how do we embed succession planning in our daily work lives?

    • Establish a well-ordered, simple filing system for digital and manual files
    • Create a (insert your title here) “how to” manual file and include:
      • Updated job description for your position 
      • Updated job description for any position reporting to you
      • Updated organizational chart
      • Annual goals and objectives for your areas of responsibility—Review/update these goals and objectives quarterly
    • Create and maintain project folders and “next step” notes on ongoing projects
    • When starting a task, ask yourself, “If I had never done this before, what would I need to know?” and document the steps to complete the task for inclusion in your “how to” manual file
    • Develop KISS (keep it simple stupid!) systems that are easily followed
    • Don’t reinvent the wheel; create templates for all documents used on a fairly regular basis
    • Communicate regularly with co-workers about important projects
    • Mentor a colleague
    • Give continuous/helpful feedback to staff under your supervision
    • When attending a webinar, reading an article or joining a professional organization, include a brief summary of why the particular activity was helpful to your professional development


    Need help getting started? We can assist you with establishing good succession planning habits in your day-to-day operations or with developing a succession plan.





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  • Thursday, January 11, 2018 9:38 AM | Tom Williams (Administrator)












    Tom Williams

    Capacity Builder

    Tom@nonprofnetwork.org




    With the New Year comes a perfect time to wipe the slate clean and take some new approaches to better ourselves.  This is great time slot at the beginning of a new calendar to consider your professional development. We know that enhanced professionals (at staff or board level) will positively impact the accomplishments of organizations.  Higher skilled leaders get enhanced results.


    Now that that ball has finally dropped in Times Square, a fresh look at your personal professional development is in order.


    You may know that we at Nonprofit Network facilitate a lot of workshops. I’ve observed during those sessions that there is always someone who is overloaded with new and different. They are overwhelmed by all the ways they could implement the information and need assistance in identifying next steps that are achievable. 


    So my recommendation is to keep it simple. 


    Identify a single, key skill that you feel will impact your development. Mastering that skill in 2018 will make a difference.


    I’ve waited until now to introduce you to the hard part.  New skills will bolster your performance as you implement them, but the truly valuable impact only comes when you have mastered them. 


    Mastery requires changing your behavior.  Changing your behavior starts with forming new habit.  And habits take time.  


    Most people expect a short journey to mastery and when it takes more time than anticipated, the effort is reduced, or maybe frustration stops the effort entirely.  Workshops are fantastic venues for exploring new skills, but the full potential comes from practicing what was learned and implementing the skills every day.


    Habits were once thought to be created over a three week period.  However, recent studies now tell us true “habits” will actually take 66 days or more to form.  Yes, that’s slightly over two MONTHS (not weeks). Don’t despair! Creating the new and powerful habit will be worth it. It will be a skill that not only immediately benefits your organization, but one that will stay with you for the rest of your life.  


    When to start?  I really like the old saying of the best time to plant a shade tree—the best answer: 20 years ago.  The very next best answer is TODAY.  If you start now, by the time our snow is gone for good, you will have a new habit.  


    Coming up are some workshops that may address the skill you identify.  Need to focus on self care?  We've got you covered.  Want to improve employee management and retention?  Not a problem. Ready to elevate the quality of your board management?  We've got that too.


    I’m not going to be so bold as to tell which skill you need to acquire. You know what it is already. Say it out loud. Now take a deep breath and get started identifying what you can do today on your journey to mastery.


    Touch bases with us if you want to talk it through.




    Do you want to talk about coaching?



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  • Wednesday, December 20, 2017 12:52 PM | Carrie Heider Grant (Administrator)



    Carrie Heider Grant

    Program Coordinator

    Carrie@nonprofnetwork.org




    As we look forward to new opportunities in the new year, I want to share some of the exciting things on the horizon for Nonprofit Network.  Our 2018 workshop calendar is live, and there will be a few more workshops and tools added in the coming weeks.  This calendar looks and functions a little differently than those of previous years, and I want to take a few moments to highlight some of the exciting developments.  


    Let's take a look.

     

    Nonprofit Network Leadership Academy

    Calling all new executive directors! In early January, we will be opening registration for the Nonprofit Network Leadership Academy.  This is a training that we have developed exclusively for executive directors who have been in their role for fewer than 3 years.  Participants will be part of a cohort that will meet monthly June 2018 through December 2018. Academy registration includes a copy of the Michigan Nonprofit Management Manual.


    Innovative and Accessible Board Training

    Nonprofit Network is thrilled to say that we have a new vehicle to deliver board training.  Thanks to the support of Community Choice Foundation, we have been able to develop an innovative tool that nonprofits of all sizes, budgets, and life-cycle stages can implement to strengthen the board. I am excited to share more about this seriously cool tool in the next few weeks!


    Brand New Workshops

    We have a *slew* of brand new workshops in the coming year!  We’ll cover topics like planning, employee management and retention, understanding how policy changes will affect the sector, self-care, grant writing, and so much more!  Heads up, though: with the exception of a select few workshops, we will not be repeating classes. So register early when you see a session you want to take—it won’t come around again later in the year!


    Conference Content without the Week-long Commitment

    Multi-day conferences are expensive—both in cost and in time away from the office.  We know how hard it can be to carve out those resources, so we are offering a variety of full-day trainings in 2018 on governance, fund development, and leadership to make deep-dive, professional development more accessible and manageable.  



    Bridges Out of Poverty Workshops

    I cannot stress enough how much impact the Bridges Out of Poverty framework can have on communities.  We will offer at least four public sessions in 2018 and, as the content has recently been updated by the authors, now is the best time to register for a Bridges Out of Poverty workshop. 


    Foundations of Board Governance (aka Board 101)

    Foundations of Board Governance is the new name for our long-standing Board 101 workshop.  This foundational class has been polished up and will now be offered quarterly and at varying times to accommodate the schedules of more people.  We will rotate between mornings, afternoons, and evenings.  We’ll also offer Starting a Nonprofit Organization quarterly in 2018.  We want to make these basic and critical classes more accessible.  The first session will be on January 18spread the word!


    Nonprofit Network wishes you a very happy holiday season! 2018 is shaping up to be a busy and exciting year, and we look forward to seeing you there!


  • Friday, December 08, 2017 9:26 AM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)



    Regina Pinney

    Executive Director

    Regina@nonprofnetwork.org






    December is the giving month. According to Charity Navigator, 31% of annual giving occurs in the month of December and 12% of annual giving occurs on the last 3 days of the year. Which means that you will be sending lots of thank you’s in the coming weeks.  


    How much planning have you done around the strategy and content of those thank you letters?


    If your answer is "little-to-none," then know this:


    The number 1 reason that people keep giving is because they were thanked well. 


    Let's dive in.


    The follow up and thank you to a gift is the most important step of the donor journey. Thoughtful and strategic follow-though helps you build a stronger bond with your donor, it connects them with the impact of their gift, and it communicates their active role in your success. 


    When done well, a thank you may be the reason a donor considers giving an increased gift next time. Remember, it costs less to retain a donor than it does to attract a new one. Fundraising expert Harvey McKinnon says “Donor loyalty is not about the donor being loyal to you, it is you being loyal to the donor.”



    Here are some simple strategies to ensure your thank you is impactful and works toward retaining your donors.


    1.     Make it prompt.

    • A really prompt thank you note impresses your donor. It indicates to them that your organization is well run.
    • A great rule of thumb is “Thank before you Bank” – meaning, put the thank you in the mail before you deposit the check.
    • During December or other high donation times, be sure to make time every day to work on your thank you’s.

    2.     Make it personal.

    • Use “I” and “we.”
    • Count the times you use the word “I/we” and make sure the number of times you use “you” is far greater. Give your donor all the credit.
    • Be warm – remember, you are thanking a friend
    • Use casual writing, this isn’t the time to be ultra –professional. Use contractions such as We’ll rather than We will.
    • Use an exclamation mark if appropriate.

    3.     Start in a personal way.

    • Yes: Dear Ms. Smith or better, Dear Jane - Never: Dear Friend.
    • Hint: use technology to help personalize the letter as much as possible.
    • Never, never, never begin with “on behalf of . . .”
    • Try “I’m so happy to hear from you!” or “You have made my day!”


    4.     Use a warm tone.

    • Be sincere.
    • Show thoughtfulness.
    • You spent all that time writing notes on the solicitation letters – but usually, a donor won’t read the solicitation letter but will read the Thank You! Use the space and the paper wisely!
    • Don’t forget to send warm wishes in the thank you!


    5.     Be emotional.

    • Don’t bury it. Wear your heart on your sleeve.
    • Try to convey excitement about what can happen with the donor’s gift.
    • “ I can’t begin to thank you enough for . . .”
    • “We are absolutely thrilled to have your support again this year.”
    • “Because of your gift, a family will have . . . or a kid will get . . . art and music will . . . our water will be cleaner.”
    • "Your gift is helping to improve the lives of . . .”


    6.     Send a real letter, not a pre-printed card.

    • Never send a pre-printed card. It’s just too impersonal.
    • Your donor has just sent you their money. They are saying that they believe in you and trusts you.
    • Sending a pre-printed card is a turn off – no matter what the size of the gift.


    7.     Thank smaller gifts warmly.

    • All sized gifts get warm, prompt, personal thank yous.
    • Send thank yous for in-kind gifts


    8.     Refer to the donor’s past support if you possibly can.

    • Acknowledge the long term partnership your donor has with your organization.
    • Celebrate the ongoing relationship


    9.     Send more than one thank you letter.

    • All from different people at the organization – clients, other volunteers, other donors, etc.
    • In this day of shrinking donor dollars, this small step could help your organization stand out and forge a much stronger relationship with your donors.
    • Some organizations that bring stationery to the board meetings and have board members hand-write letters. This process helps connect board members to the fundraising process.


    10.    Offer a next step

    • Invite them to an upcoming event or encourage them to check out your website for interesting articles
    • Invite them to sign up for your emails or to subscribe to your Facebook or Instagram to see their donation in action
    • Note: You do NOT say “Please donate more!”


    We know that many donors don’t give again because they weren’t thanked properly. 'Tis the season of giving. Remember the power of a strong thank you!


    Do you want coaching on how to strategically 
    build thank yous in your fund development?  




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  • Wednesday, November 22, 2017 8:07 AM | Regina Pinney (Administrator)



    Regina Pinney

    Executive Director

    Regina@nonprofnetwork.org




    From the moment we are brought into this world, we begin to hear how important it is to be kind to others. Whether it was sharing your toys with a sibling, or including someone at recess, shoveling a neighbor’s driveway, delivering a meal to a sick friend,  we have always been encouraged to give to others. While we heard it often, most of us never questioned the phrase, “Sharing is caring.” That is, until we grew older.


    It happens to all of us at some point. We begin to question if our efforts are really worth it. We begin to calculate if we have enough resources to allocate to others. Eventually, the kid who valued the idea of sharing whenever possible begins to question if they should even share at all. I’m here to tell you to that you are more influential than you think and that every act of giving you perform creates a butterfly effect that changes the world.


    Giving your time or a donation to an organization creates a shockwave. A small donation to an organization can help carry out a mission that inspires others to give as well. Giving your time can inspire others to join an organization or be the extra boost it needed to succeed. Helping spread a message can help educate someone that otherwise would never be exposed to it.


    You see, the simple act of giving is not so simple. Sir Isaac Newton's first law states that every object will remain at rest or in uniform motion in a straight line unless compelled to change its state by the action of an external force. 


    As long as you are trying, as long as you are giving in some way, you are that external force. 


    You are the difference maker. 


    You don’t have to give a million-dollar donation to make a shockwave, you can it give your time to help build a playground. A playground where someone may learn for the first time that “sharing is caring.”




    Want more? Click here to sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and announcements.  Each week you'll get a link to the most recent blog post. We promise to respect your time and will not flood your inbox. We only send one or two e-mails each week.


  • Thursday, November 09, 2017 12:51 PM | Katena Cain (Administrator)



    Katena Cain

    Management Consultant

    Katena@nonprofnetwork.org





    Bridges Out of Poverty is the most important work that I do as an employee at Nonprofit Network. We have been teaching this model to organizations and individuals for over three years, training city staff, hospital residents, housing sector employees, school districts, medical professionals, police departments, and so many more. 


    That’s 30 organizations and over 3,000 individuals.


    Bridges Out of Poverty is a proven way to counter poverty and its impact on people and businesses in your community. And it’s working.


    In fact, here are the immediate changes one group that serves and employs people living in deep poverty implemented as a result of our work with them:


    • All employees can request half of their paycheck early to help prevent the need for payday loan services
    • All forms have been rewritten in plain language
    • To increase staff's accessibility to residents that cannot take time off work, staff now works four 10-hour days instead of five 8-hour days.
    • Baskets of toiletries, toilet paper, and cleaning supplies are available to staff


    In September 2017, an updated revision of Bridges out of Poverty resources and materials were released. I traveled to St. Louis and spent three days immersed in the content and sharpening my skills and knowledge as a certified trainer of the Bridges material. This training and the updated material have changed the way I teach Bridges Out of Poverty. If you have already been to a training, it’s time for you to come back for a refresher and new insights.


    If you haven’t experienced Bridges Out of Poverty before – or are ready to take the next step – then now is the time to take action. The insights and strategies you learn have the potential to transform your entire community.


    Nonprofit Network’s vision is to transform nonprofits to transform the world, and this work is making that vision a reality.


    For more information on Bridges or to sign up for an upcoming public workshop—there’s one on the November 28th—visit our website or reach out to me. I love to talk about this work.





    Want to know more about having a customized Bridges Out of Poverty session for your organization? 








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  • Friday, October 27, 2017 11:24 AM | Tom Williams (Administrator)



    Tom Williams

    Capacity Builder

    Tom@nonprofnetwork.org




    Decision making is the core role of a board of directors. So why do so many boards spend more time sharing information that could’ve been an emailed report instead of having high level, crucial conversations that lead to strong decisions? 


    You might be amazed at how many board meetings I have been a part of in the past at which zero decisions were reached. Or maybe you’ve experienced this also. Are your board meetings consumed with verbal reports on the status of this issue or that project or how this person performed during the last 30 days? Informing—while incredibly necessary—is not a good use of your short time together as a full board. Spending board hours giving verbal reports is, at best, barely beneficial and, at worst, a danger to your mission. 


    Instead,share data with board members before the meeting via the board packet. Provide those would-be verbal reports as written reports and give your board multiple days to read them and come to the meeting prepared..


    Empowered board members assemble to make decisions. However, empowerment requires the members to come already informed. Prior access to data not only makes decisions easier to settle, but also more likely to stay made as well. Board decisions made without solid data have a tendency to make the deciders less confident that their conclusions are correct and will ultimately bring the issue back in front of the board to wrestle again in the not-so-distant future. Examining the issue once and reaching a solid decision that stays made is the best process to build momentum in the organization.


    Board members are recruited from the community not for their ability to be updated, but rather so they can use their life skills to reach the best decisions that benefit the organization. It is a misuse of this valuable human resource to assemble simply to hear a report. The misuse is even more egregious if the entire meeting time is about reporting out data. Leaders view their roles differently when they associate board time with reaching solid decisions; one effect of transitioning to a decision-centric board agenda is better attendance.


    Imagine a board meeting at which every member is in attendance and already fully informed as to the status of programs, finances, staff and committee efforts—they are empowered by the most relevant data and with full participation of all voices around the table. That is the scene where the mission of your organization is about to be moved forward. Conversely, assembling all these valuable human resources so that they are merely more informed than they had been 90 minutes ago does not advance the mission any further and sets the stage for people to see their board participation as less relevant, or maybe even optional.


    Do you know where your board is on the Decision-Informing continuum? Here’s an exercise for you to conduct that will gather data to confirm your assumption:

    Review the board minutes from your most recent three board meetings. Take note of time spent informing and time when decisions were discussed and conclusions reached.


    Then, at your next board meeting, record how much of your time is spent informing members as to status of finances, staff efforts, program progress, or committee activities, and compare that number with how much time is spent discussing issues and data to reach decisions.


    The closer your results are to mostly decision making, the more movement you will see towards mission fulfillment.


    Continue this process each month, refining your agenda and practices until the majority of your regular board meetings is spent discussing and making decisions. Make the meeting entirely about decision making and that mission fulfillment will be even more observable.


    The transition to conduct decision-centric meeting begins by deciding to change. Then you follow up that decision with new processes and a transition to a meeting agenda that reflects your new direction. 




    Want to discuss this transition in more detail?  

    Give Tom a call at 517-796-4750 or click the button below.





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  • Friday, October 20, 2017 9:27 AM | Carrie Heider Grant (Administrator)



    Carrie Heider Grant

    Program Coordinator

    Carrie@nonprofnetwork.org





    As a capacity building center, Nonprofit Network teaches best practices for nonprofits. Depending on your organization's size, stage, structure, or mission, there may be some variables in how you should operate and govern.  But there are some things that are universal and apply to us all. 


    Myself? I'm a data person who values evidence and solid science when it comes to my perspective on the world.  So if I told you that there is a way to improve the quality of conversations and decisions at your board and staff level that may take you out of your comfort zone, andwith enough hard work and planningwill be worth every minute, would you bite?


    I recently came across some research from 2008 that looks at the impact of diversity on group functioning—specifically on how a newcomer impacts decision-making and the quality of decisions made by a group.


    Here’s a breakdown of how they conducted the research:


    50 fraternity and sorority members were placed in same-gender groups of four people each. Every group comprised three members of the same fraternity or sorority (the “oldtimers,”) with a fourth person who was either another member of that same fraternity or sorority (an “in-group”) or was a member of a different one (an “out-group).


    The old-timers came together in their individual groups after reading a series of interviews from a murder investigation and discussed which suspect was most likely the murderer. Their task was to discuss the case for 20 minutes and reach consensus on the culprit. After five minutes, the fourth person—either an in-group or an out-group—joined them.



    Here are three of the most significant findings from this study and some suggestions for how you might apply them to your own organization:


    1) The groups that were all in the same fraternity or sorority (oldtimers + in-group newcomer) were more often wrong in their final decision. While the groups that had an out-group person added to the mix were more frequently correct. Having a homogeneous group was a clear disadvantage.


    Study your recruitment strategies at the board and program level.  How are you ensuring that you are bringing people to the table who have different perspectives and experiences?  



    2) The out-group newcomer didn’t necessarily bring in new ideas. But rather their presence raised the water level of the quality of the group’s discussion. The presence and influence of an outsider disrupted the cognitive processing and the exchange of information within the group. This study specifically sought to “determine whether the benefits of newcomers only occur when they brought in a new idea.” The results overwhelmingly demonstrated that the advantage of an out-group newcomer was most valuable when they did not bring in a new idea


    Examine your culture.  How are you intentionally building relationships in your group that allow for discussion and constructive conflict?  Are you allowing newcomers to influence your discussions? How are you planning crucial conversations to grow your capacity and effectiveness?



    3) When the 20-minute discussion ended, the groups were surveyed about their experience. As you might expect, the groups of like-minded people were more comfortable during the process—but they were also more confident that they chose the correct answer. The groups with an out-group newcomer reported being more uncomfortable during the process and less confident in the accuracy of their decision—even though they were right!


    Evaluate your effectiveness. Do your perceptions line up with how well your organization is actually performing? Measure the data and identify how to improve as a whole.




    Nonprofit Network strives to be a model of inclusion. We engage all people with dignity and respect. We believe that bringing diverse individuals together is essential to effectively address the issues that face current and prospective partners.


    We know that conversations around diversity, equity, and inclusion can be difficult and uncomfortable.  But we also know that they can be enormously valuable and it is imperative that the nonprofit sector pursues these values.


    Looking for more general information? Check out this resource page from the National Council of Nonprofits. 


    Nonprofit Network has worked tirelessly for the past three years with the team at Michigan Nonprofit Association to build a comprehensive tool that assesses an organization's practices. This Diversity, Inclusion, and Equity Assessment is one the many ways we can walk with you to build your capacity. 




    If you're ready to talk about how you can move your organization forward in this critical work, let us know.








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  • Tuesday, October 10, 2017 3:54 PM | Katena Cain (Administrator)



    Katena Cain

    Management Consultant

    Katena@nonprofnetwork.org




    I was recently organizing a bookshelf at home and came across a book that I originally read over 10 years ago: Soar With Your Strengths by Donald O. Clifton and Paula Nelson. It reminded me of a time early in my career when I searched for the motivation to encourage others using a strengths-based approach. Walt Disney, the visionary who turned a single mouse into an entertainment mega-empire, boiled his success down to a simple premise: “Of all the things I have done, the most vital was coordinating the talents of those who work for me and pointing them at certain goals.” 


    While there are not many Disney-type fairy tales in the real world, supporting weaknesses and leveraging strengths can take your team to levels of success you might not have previously imagined—perhaps the “happily-ever-after” of ultimately obtaining your vision. As leadership engineer John Maxwell asserts, “Work on the weakness that weakens you, and there is no telling how far you will go.”




    Top Five Tips for Leveraging Strengths and Supporting Weaknesses:


    1.  Pay attention

    Survey individuals' unique leadership styles, work ethics, skill sets and personalities. Some successes and failures may be a fluke, but if you pay careful attention, trends will likely emerge in relation to a person's strengths and weaknesses.


    2.  Make them aware

    It is easy to recognize an individual for something at which they excel—chances are they already know it is one of their strengths. The harder part is pointing out a weakness. However, it is likely that he or she already realizes some of their own inadequacies.


    3.  Utilize Mentors

    Partnering an individual who has a particular weakness with someone who exhibits strength in that same area creates ample opportunities for that person to sharpen a skill.


    4.  Consider professional development

    Consider utilizing your own resources as well by having the employee who has the sharpest skill set in a particular area lead a company-wide workshop on how they developed and best employed that strength.


    5.  Allow for failure

    By letting team members know they are being given the opportunity to fail for the sake of strengthening a weakness, not only will it give them confidence for developing a skill set or overcoming a shortcoming, but it will prepare them to use that very attribute for future successes.





    Once upon a time, most leaders focused solely on utilizing the strengths of their team members for achieving directives. 


    But the best leaders today realize that in order for real achievements to become a reality they must focus not only on the preeminent attributes of employees, but also on their weaknesses, initiating efforts to both buoy and leverage those shortcomings to achieve greater success.





    Ready for some coaching on how you can leverage strengths and support weaknesses on your team?









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  • Thursday, September 28, 2017 10:08 AM | Sharon Castle (Administrator)



    Sharon Castle

    Capacity Builder

    Sharon@nonprofnetwork.org





    “The three most important ways to lead people are: by example…by example…by example.” - Albert Schweitzer


    Fundraising doesn’t happen in a vacuum. If you want to move your organization toward a culture of fundraising lead by example – educate and advocate on behalf of your organization; make a personal gift and volunteer to assist in areas for which you are not responsible.


    As a consultant, I often find myself repeating to potential clients, “If you want to hire me to fundraise for you, I’m not that kind of consultant. Effective fundraising is the product of a cohesive organization with strong and viable programs where all members are engaged in fundraising. What I can do is help you strengthen your fundraising capability and success.”


    The strongest fundraising programs are often found within organizations that embrace a culture of philanthropy. Merriam Webster defines philanthropy as “goodwill to fellow members of the human race; especially: active effort to promote human welfare.” And, “an act or gift done or made for humanitarian purposes.”


    Creating a culture of philanthropy does not happen overnight – particularly in organizations that have been without such a culture – and requires the buy-in of everyone, including grounds keeping and housekeeping staff to administrators to volunteers helping run a program or answering phones to the board chair and everyone in between. Turning the corner and establishing a culture of philanthropy can be done with time, patience and buy-in from board, staff and volunteer leadership. 


    Here are some strategies that you can start using today:


    Include all staff in fundraising activities and treat them well. I organized a grand opening event and invited the program staff to attend with the one stipulation that they sit among donors and enjoy dinner. Unbeknownst to me, I was breaking a long-standing tradition of not inviting staff or inviting them with the understanding they would take tickets, help set up or tear down or some other chore. I held my ground and, in the short term, was the beneficiary of a grateful program staff and donors who were regaled with interesting stories. In the long term, the program folks understood the importance of being ambassadors for the organization and became my link to prospective donors.


    Ask program staff their goals and aspirations. Encourage them to share program stories including struggles and successes. This will help build trust and provide a link between program and fundraising. As a development officer, I shared my annual goals with program staff and asked them to share theirs with me.


    Include fundraising as part of the recruitment and orientation of board members, volunteers and staff so they understand and view it as “part of the whole” and as well as their role in encouraging a philanthropic culture.


    When recruiting board members, ask them where they think they best fit in the philanthropic process. It may be by acting as an ambassador for programs; hosting a small gathering of friends to learn more about your organization, and of course making a personal gift.


    And, most importantly: Lead by example…lead by example...lead by example.





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