So much of fundraising success stems from having a great team, from top to bottom. And you can’t have a great team without a strong organizational culture.
My favorite definition of organization culture underscores how the concept enables a highly-functioning team:
The set of shared attitudes, values, goals, and practices that characterizes an institution or organization
There are many steps to creating a strong culture. We are going to explore five of them. Fundraising effectiveness is impacted by each and every one of them. Here are the five:
When you evaluate any successful fundraising team, whether it is just one or two paid staff supplemented with volunteers, or a paid staff of ten or more working closely with volunteers, the success begins with recruiting.
The right organizational culture spawns referrals of friends, former associates and sometimes even family for full-time, part-time and volunteer roles. People only go to work recruiting the best individuals they know when the culture is one they adore!
This type of avid recruiting is the foundation of virtually every top fundraising team I have seen in action. They love to work together, and just as impactful, is that they stay together over time.
One of the most strategic areas of any interview process for an organization with a culture they are proud of is:
Will this person fit in to and add to our wonderful culture?
The existing team will want to spend as much time as possible with any potential hire or potential volunteer. The current team knows the foundation of any excellent culture is the people who comprise it. They will work vigorously to protect and enhance this culture by insuring the right people are added to the team.
When any fundraising team is smashing all of their stated goals, training can be accomplished by merely immersing the new volunteers or hires into the daily flow of activities. There they can witness the organization’s culture in action first hand. This is a superb way to insure the culture is maintained and improved.
Such on the job training can and should be supplemented with a top-notch orientation for both new employees and volunteers.
This is very similar to having an outstanding board orientation where we allow the organization’s S.M.I.T. (Single Most Important Thing) to ring out loud and clear.
Such an orientation blends the organization’s culture throughout. Before it is over, the new employee or volunteer just senses the impact of the culture and is truly anxious to be part of it!
4. Day-to-Day Practices
As you might guess, daily routines become extensions of the training and orientation mentioned above.
What is special in culture packed organizations is how every employee and volunteer looks out for each other and for the absolute good of the organization. There is no finger pointing or saying something does not fall into this department or that department. Everyone just jumps in to do all of the little things that enable donors, sponsors, volunteers, mission work recipients and prospective donors feel like they one in a million!
Innovation cannot happen unless the status quo is always viewed as something to be improved.
Organizations possessing top cultures never rest on their laurels. The constant need to improve and better results is part of their DNA. This is where innovation, especially in fundraising springs from.
When you combine this innovation with people and processes that are already achieving success, even higher levels of success is the most common result.
Does your organization’s culture influence all five of these aspects in the manner you desire? Are fundraising success and funding of your mission key results of your culture?
If so, congrats! Work hard to keep that culture intact.
If not, perhaps sharing the above aspects with your team will move you closer to such success.
A 30+ veteran of the nonprofit software industry, Jay Love co-founded Bloomerang in 2012. Prior to Bloomerang, he was the CEO and Co-Founder of eTapestry for 11 years, which at the time was the leading SaaS technology company serving the charity sector. Jay and his team grew the company to more than 10,000 nonprofit clients, charting a decade of record growth. Prior to starting eTapestry, Jay served 14 years as President and CEO of Master Software Corporation. MSC provided a widely used family of database products for the non-profit sector called Fund-Master. He currently serves on the board of the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University and is the past AFP Ethics Committee Chairman. Jay is also the author of Stay Together: How to Encourage a Lifetime of Donor Loyalty.