ABCR Festival Sao Paulo, Brazil Panel Discussion: Creating a Culture of Philanthropy Bob Carter, CFRE, Chair, AFP • Consider the impact of the charitable sector and the increasing role it plays in our societies. o Millions of programs and services. o Connecting individuals to causes. o Fostering civic participation. o Improving the quality of life for all people. • Charities don’t just help people and improve society anymore. More and more, charities are leading society. Developing new ideas and ways to think about things. Creating change. • Charities are a critical way societies and communities advance. They are a critical force in uniting and rallying people around causes and ideas. • That’s why organized philanthropy is critical. It’s about engagement; how we work together to improve our
communities. Informal giving will always be important, but it needs to work hand-‐in-‐hand with the infrastructure and processes of more organized philanthropy. • This is why working with individuals in giving and philanthropy is so critical. Corporate and foundation giving is important, but it doesn’t create the societal bonds that individual giving and volunteering create. Individual engagement creates the building blocks of philanthropy. • One of the most repeated comments I hear is how fundraising practice in the U.S. and Canada is far more advanced than anywhere else in the world. Given the amount of giving that occurs in the United States and Canada alone annually—well past $300 million—one can understand the sentiment. • But from my experiences in the U.S., Canada, the U.K. and in other countries that this expectation simply isn’t accurate. The philanthropic culture may be stronger in U.S. But as to the actual nuts and bolts of creative fundraising, I would argue that many U.S. charities today need to look outward beyond their borders to countries precisely such as Brazil.
• It’s true that Brazilian charities and fundraisers can learn a lot from their North American counterparts. But the reverse is also true. North American charities have been slow to innovate as the global economy has faltered, new technologies have arisen and younger donors have begun to make an impact. • But where U.S. and Canadian fundraising does have an advantage is in the culture of philanthropy and engagement that has been built in the U.S. over centuries. In the U.S., being part of a community means supporting that community. There is an implicit understanding that the community cannot move ahead—if everyone is not pitching in and showing their support. • Part of that understanding is that fundraising plays an important role in moving our communities forward. Nearly all citizens view the process of being asked to engage and give as a basic part of their lives, integrated seamlessly into community life and action. • Let me stress: this isn’t about Brazilian generosity. The Baazilian people ARE generous. The critical difference between the US and Brazil is a philanthropic culture where fundraising is viewed as an integral part of achieving
impact in the community. Fundraising is not yet seen as a natural part of the community throughout most of Latin America. • Big challenge for Mexican philanthropy: creating that sense and culture of community where fundraising and engagement are seen as normal, important parts of society. Implicit in that goal is the need to articulate these principles as well—we can’t be afraid to talk publicly about the importance of fundraising and philanthropy and of the need for public support. • Culture building must begin with each organization. We have to integrate the principles of philanthropy—engagement, community, impact, generosity and respect, to name just a few—into everything we do. This culture of philanthropy has to extend to donors through inspiration and stewardship, but apply equally to staff and volunteers as well. • Culture building has to start with trust. has to start with trust too. We have to be accountable to our donors, and show that accountability to them whenever possible. We have to live up to the standards of our Code of Ethics, as well as the principles outlined in The Donor Bill of Rights.
• There are important questions we have to ask of our organizations. o Do our boards and our leadership understand the philanthropic relationship? o Do they see its impact on fulfilling their mission and providing their programs and services? o Do they understand what philanthropy is, what drives it and how it relates to fundraising? o And the biggest question of all – do our boards and our organizations embrace philanthropy as a key part of their organizational culture? What do you think? • If we focus just on the getting the gift, then we have failed. When you focus on ‘fundraising’—when it is not in the bigger context of philanthropy—the tendency is to focus on the problem rather than on the solution. • Philanthropy, however, is a much broader concept, the goal of which is to systematically solve problems. It is based on carefully thought out plans, built on previous successes, focuses on the community and benefits many people.
• So how do we get there? This is a big question. But I do have some ideas about starting that process and what we can look for in our organizations to assess where we are. These are ways you can tell how philanthropic your organizational culture is, and I think these ideas can be a springboard for further discussion. Sign #1: Your organizational leadership understands and acknowledges the difference between philanthropy, development and fundraising. • Philanthropy is the giving and receiving, the exchange based on shared values. • Development is the management of all the processes and relationships. It is the enabling factor for donors to fulfill their philanthropic goals and dreams. • And fundraising is the methodologies and functions themselves. It is really the carrying out of specific activities to raise a gift. This is what our volunteer leadership so ably does – hopefully! • And there’s a hierarchy here too. Fundraising and development are critical, but philanthropy is on top, it’s the most important.
Sign #2: Your organization recognizes that its primary role is NOT fundraising. It is building the philanthropic culture in your organizations so that philanthropic relationships can survive and thrive. • is where philanthropy and building a philanthropic culture begins. By putting a priority on building relationships. If we think our role is to ‘raise money’ then we will forever be locked in the charity approach. • This isn’t a challenge unique to Brazil. Charities have no problems “getting” donors, or attracting them. Our issue is keeping them. According to the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, of which AFP is a sponsor and participant, most charities churn though donors very quickly. For every 100 new donors we get a year, we are losing 107 previous donors. And while that figure is for the U.S., we’re seeing this trend around the world. • We’re not focusing on our donors enough. We’re not treating them like they are important once the gift is made. • It can’t be just the job of the fundraiser. Regardless of position, we are ALL facilitators of the philanthropic process, catalysts for social change and the conscience of
our charitable mission. Fundraising is important but it can’t be seen as our primary role. Or we’ve already failed. Sign # 3: You have a statement of philanthropic values. I almost made this my first sign, because a statement of philanthropic values is a great way to start thinking about a culture of philanthropy. • Many of you probably have statements about your mission and vision. So why not have a Statement of Philanthropic Values as a way of nurturing a common understanding among volunteers and staff of how and why development efforts should be designed and implemented? o Get some discussion and consensus going, seek and acknowledge input. o How do you want to treat your donors? o How important are they to your organization? o What is everyone’s role in the philanthropic process? • A statement like this can be a powerful tool. Coming together and examining our own concepts of philanthropy is a terrific way to begin the conversation of building a culture of philanthropy.
Sign #4: Development isn’t seen as a necessary evil, but is rather a core function that is long term, strategic and responsive to community needs. • So many organizations fail to see development as a core program. I’ve even worked with Executive Directors who see it as a necessary evil. • “Selling the Institutional Soul: The Heart of Development” Terrence C. Deal and Casey Smith Baluss: “The further nonprofit organizations allow the cultural values to shift away from the responsibility to contribute ideas, services and human capital to improve society, the more difficult fundraising becomes. Fundraising professionals should help nonprofit institutions renew their symbolic cores and strengthen their links to donors and beneficiaries.” • We must be working in sync, in tandem with other facets of your organization that are relying on philanthropic support to deliver their programs. o Philanthropy and development must be ‘at the table’ when strategic planning is being conducted. o Philanthropy and development must be pursued as a ‘strategic’ direction of the organization.
o And philanthropy and development must interact and be integrated into all other functions of the organization. Sign #5: Accountability is a word your organization lives by. • Ethics and public trust are incredibly important to philanthropy. Because while the for-‐profit sector can offer profits and products, what we offer is change. But donors have to trust us to make that change. They trust us to act ethically. And if we don’t, that trust is lost. • The way we show our ethics is through accountability—doing what we said we would do. And it’s one of the most popular reasons why donors stop giving. • I know that all of the AFP members here subscribe to our Code of Ethics? o What about your organizations? Your boards? o Do you subscribe to an organizational code of ethics and follow it, or did you just pass it as a motion at a board meeting because you were submitting a grant request to a Foundation? o Have you ever put it into your policies and operationalized it? Had discussions about it?
o How about the Donor Bill of Rights? Has your board adopted it? Is it posted somewhere in plain view – and I don’t mean on the bulletin board in your office? • I think charities are, to an extent, afraid to talk about ethics and trust and accountability, as if by bringing it up, we’ll start people thinking about past controversies. But the truth is, people want to hear about the ethical safeguards we have in place so they know their contributions will be used well. Sign #6: And Last but certainly not least, donors are viewed as stakeholders in your organization . • They are not a necessary evil, a burden, all rich, your best friends, your board members’ best friends, suckers, targets, or a nuisance. They are stakeholders, they have invested because they care. • There is communication between your organization, your board, your leadership and your donors on a regular basis. They are celebrated and recognized and probably most importantly – appreciated for the tremendous gifts they make to the community through your organization.
• And that is what philanthropy is all about: focused on the donor and making them an equal partner in the philanthropic process. • Fundraising can certainly occur in the absence of a philanthropic culture, it just won’t go as far, soar as high and achieve as incredible impact for your mission. • So those are my ideas, and hopefully you have your own and have some comments to add because I’d love to hear them. • People want philanthropy as a key part of their life, something they integrate into their daily routine, just like their new smart phone. And that’s going to require us to be prepared to integrate them into our lives—that is, our organization’s culture of philanthropy. • Fortunately, there is a growing tradition of philanthropy here in Brazil, and we can use that traditino to build our cultures of philanthropy at our organizations. And we can use the tools and knowledge we have to engage people and inspire them.