Martin Letter.Culture[8]


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Martin Letter.Culture[8]

  1. 1. T H E martin L E T T E R P u b l i s h e d b y M G I / S e r v i c e s a n d C o u n s e l i n f u n d - r a i s i n g a n d c o m m u n i c a t i o n s Creating a Culture of Philanthropy By John A. Martin, CFRE hy do some institutions consis- tently meet their fundraising targets, year in and year out, including capital campaigns, while others soar and dive? What is it that drives consis- tent, quality performance? When MGI Fund Raising Consulting began exploring these questions several years ago, we quickly realized that neither institutional size nor fundraising goals were relevant markers in identifying “sustained perform- ance” institutions. Neither was organization type; successful educational institutions and health care organization displayed a consis- tent set of characteristics. And while maturi- ty of the fundraising programs played a part in these success stories, not all mature fundraising programs maintained the same level of success. Our analysis led us to conclude that top-per- forming institutions share a “culture of phi- lanthropy.” Every employee plays a part Some people define philanthropy as volun- tary action for the common good. Many talk about fund development as the engine that drives philanthropy. Without charitable giv- ing, most not-for-profits cannot survive. Philanthropy and fund development -- inex- tricably entwined -- belong to the entire organization. Every individual. Every depart- ment. All volunteers. For a not-for-profit organization to be truly successful and effec- tive, the organization must develop a culture of philanthropy. This means that everyone in the organization ... from the janitor to the president of the board ... understands that philanthropy and fund development are critical to organiza- tional health AND that each individual (both the janitor and board president) has a role in the process. But too often, this does not happen. Fund development is isolated in one corner of the organization. Or assigned to staff and/or a committee of the board. First and foremost, everyone should be an ambassador for the organization’s service, and for philanthropy and fund development. Being an ambassador means doing one’s own job well, understanding how all the var- ious jobs in the organization create one inte- grated system, and – most especially – treat- ing all of the organization’s customers (clients, donors, volunteers, community people, etc.) with care and respect. If board members don’t talk enough about the organization with their friends and col- leagues, it doesn’t matter how hard the executive director tries to raise funds. If the receptionist isn’t sufficiently helpful, the best direct mail solicitation will not be as effec- tive as it can be. This is the culture of philanthropy. An atti- tude. An understanding. A behavior. After the culture of philanthropy is firmly established, fund development is more effective. Tools for success Organizations that have successfully estab- lished a culture of philanthropy share these characteristics: 1. The governing Board accepts responsibility for and leadership of the annual and capital giving pro- grams. Many organizations hire develop- ment staff or assign development to their executive director. All organizations should establish a board-level develop- ment committee. But regardless of staff or committee, the board is ultimately responsible for the financial health of the institution. That means that the board is ultimately responsible for fund develop- ment. Governing boards at philanthropi- cally savvy institutions understand the importance of investing in their founda- tion or development office staffs to realize the potential within their constituencies. Such boards are populated with individu- als equally adept at making solid business decisions and helping raise annual and capital funds in partnership with CEOs W
  2. 2. M G I / S e r v i c e s a n d C o u n s e l i n f u n d - r a i s i n g a n d c o m m u n i c a t i o n s Publisher: John A. Martin, CFRE Editor: Pamela Capriotti, CFRE Contributing Editors: Elizabeth Hamrick John Schwietz Published by: MGI Fund Raising Consulting, Inc. 600 South Highway 169, Suite 180 Minneapolis, MN 55426 For information on our services, call toll-free 1.800.387.9840 (U.S. or Canada) Visit our website: Reproduction without permission is prohibited. Brief extracts may be made with due acknowledgment. Additional copies are available free of charge by contacting The Editor at our South East office. T H E martinL E T T E R and fundraising staff. They take personal responsibility for the success of annual and capital programs. 2. The CEO understands his/her role in the fundraising effort and uses every opportunity to communicate the importance of philanthropy to inter- nal and external constituencies. Top fundraising institutions are headed by individuals who blend management acu- men, vision, and interpersonal skills into the ability to communicate to internal and external constituencies the value of phi- lanthropy to their organizations. During capital campaigns, these CEOs may spend a significant amount of their time on advancing the campaign — overseeing the strategic planning/needs assessment processes, recruiting campaign leader- ship, rallying staff around the institution’s needs, addressing civic groups, attending campaign leadership meetings, and culti- vating and requesting gifts from the top 25–30 prospective donors. Their institu- tions benefit from their investments in private philanthropy that can produce fairly predictable results and a handsome return on investment. 3. The institution is open and frank in describing its dependence on pri- vate philanthropy in its Board meet- ings, publications, constituent events, and personal visits with con- stituents. There is a regular spot on Board meeting agendas for reporting and discussing private philanthropy initiatives. The Board openly celebrates positive results or is visibly excited by news of a major funding commitment, and Board members openly volunteer to take on fundraising assignments. Regular publica- tions inform, educate, and celebrate phi- lanthropy. Publications and websites openly evidence the connection between About the author… John Martin, has more than 30 years experience in the not-for profit field, on both the organizational and consulting sides. Through his consulting work with clients seeking counsel for major capital and endowment campaigns, Mr. Martin has earned a reputation as one of North America's top strategists for the not-for- profit sector. His brash mix of social con- cern and aggressive business smarts has helped raised hundreds of millions of dol- lars for colleges, hospitals, human service organizations and arts and cultural groups throughout North America. He can be reached via email: MGI is a full service fund-raising and com- munications consulting firm operating across North America. We consult through- out the United States and Canada for a wide range of not-for-profit clients: • Hospitals and Health Care Organizations • Social Service Organizations • Private Schools, Colleges, Universities and Post-Graduate Schools • Cultural and Arts Organizations • Churches, Synagogues and Religious Organizations The experience and resources of the firm have been used by a variety of clients from well-established national not-for-profit organizations looking to prepare themselves for the 21st century to first time start-up capital campaigns. For more information about planned giving and planned giving consultancy, please con- tact John at: or call our Toll Free Number: 1-800-387-9840. private philanthropy and excellent service to customers and community. Successful institutions carefully craft personal com- munications to their most consistent and generous donors, which are often deliv- ered in person. 4. The foundation or development staff is proactive in explaining the insti- tution’s funding priorities to prospective donors and stewarding relationships with existing donors. Publications and events may inform and educate constituents, but gifts that make a difference are obtained by building and maintaining personal relationships with prospective donors. Development or foundation officers cannot increase annu- al giving totals nor achieve campaign suc- cess while working behind their desks. The institution that develops the closest relationships with prospective donors, and stewards well the gifts of existing donors, will receive the majority of those donors’ philanthropy. The desk and the office may hold the keys to donor strate- gies, but the strategy must be implement- ed frequently and in person. 5. Employees recognize the integral nature of philanthropy in generating revenue for the institution and, thus, are willing to support the activities of the foundation or devel- opment staff. 6. Foundation and development staffs are acknowledged as important con- tributors to the life of their institu- tions and are accorded appropriate respect. 7. The institution is genuinely proud of its fundraising accomplishments and expects to continue a pattern of ever-increasing fundraising success.