In this webinar, Lani Hart shows how to build a strong culture of philanthropy that values donors, places them at the center of the organization, and builds capacity and systems to support its fundraising success.
Steven:All right, Lani, my watch just struck 11:30 Eastern, so is it okay if I go ahead and kick us off officially?
Lani:Yeah, sounds great.
Steven:All right, cool. Good morning, everyone, thank you all for being here for today’s Bloomerang webinar, “Building a Culture of Philanthropy: Your Work Through a Fundraising Lens.” My name is Steven Shattuck and I am the Chief Engagement Officer over here at Bloomerang and I’ll be moderating today’s discussion, as always.
And just a couple of housekeeping items before we begin officially. I just want to let you all know that we are recording this presentation and we’ll be sending out the recording as well as the slides later on this afternoon in case you didn’t already get the slides. So if you have to leave early or perhaps you want to review the content later on or share it with a friend or colleague, you’ll be able to do that. Have no fear. Just be on the lookout for an email from me later on this afternoon with all those goodies.
And as you are listening today, please feel free to use that chat box right there on your webinar screen. We’ll be saving some time at the end for Q&A, so don’t be shy about sending in your questions or comments throughout the next hour or so. I’ll be keeping an eye on that, so will our guests, and we’ll try to get to just as many questions as we can before that 12:30 Eastern hour.
If you want to do the same thing through Twitter in addition to or just on Twitter, that’s fine with me. I’ll be keeping an eye on our Twitter feed as well. Just use the #Bloomerang or you can send us a message directly @BloomerangTech.
One last bit of housekeeping items, these webinars usually are only as good as your own internet connection. If you’re having any trouble with the audio quality through your computer, we find that it’s usually a bit better by phone. So if you have a phone nearby and you don’t mind dialing into the webinar for audio, do that before you give up on us completely. There is a phone number that you can dial into from the email from ReadyTalk that went out about an hour or so ago, so phone is usually best if you have any problems there.
If this is your first Bloomerang webinar, I just want to say a special welcome to you. We do these webinars just about every Thursday. This is our penultimate webinar of the 2017 year. We’ve got one more coming up next week. It’s one of our favorite things that we do at Bloomerang. Actually, Lani and I were adding them up earlier, we’ve done over 45 webinars this year, so pretty much one per week except for holiday weeks.
One of my favorite things for sure, but in addition to that, Bloomerang is primarily a provider of donor management software. So if you were interested in that, especially maybe the year-end is coming up or new budget years are going into place, check us out. It could be a nice alternative to what you are using now or maybe your first system. So check it out after the presentation. Don’t do that now. Wait until an hour has gone by because you’re going to get some great information.
Speaking of that, I want to go ahead and introduce today’s guest. She is joining us from a cold and blustery Chicago. She is Lani Hart. Hey, Lani, how’s it going?
Lani:Great. How is everyone today?
Steven:I’m doing good. I hope everyone else listening is doing good. Tell us how you’re doing in the chat for sure. I just want to take a couple minutes to brag on Lani in case you guys don’t know her, and if you do not know Giving Tree Associates, you’ve got to check them out. Lani is a Senior Associate Consultant over at Giving Tree. One of our favorite agencies, they have provided webinars to us and they always put out great content and advice so it’s always a treat to have someone from Giving Tree join us.
Lani has over 10 years of experience in philanthropy, social entrepreneurship and leadership development. Prior to joining Giving Tree in 2016, she spent eight years working for the Jewish Federation System where she has been the Assistant Director of Talent Acquisition and Talent Development. She’s also served as Assistant Director of Young Leadership at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington, where she handled things like the annual campaign, events, worked with donors, wore all kinds of hats, as I’m sure most of you do at your organizations as well.
She’s got an MPA in nonprofit management and a Master’s degree in Jewish Studies from New York University, super smart. I’ve enjoyed planning this webinar with her and I don’t want to take up any more of her expertise or her time. So, Lani, I’m going to hand it over to you to tell us all about building cultures of philanthropy. Take it away, my friend.
Lani:Thanks, Steven. Hi, everyone. Thank you so much for taking an hour out of your day to come together to talk about this topic and do some learning together. As Steven mentioned, our call today is going to be focused on “Building a Culture of Philanthropy: Your Work Through a Fundraising Lens.” Just to give you a bit of background about—and Steven already did this briefly—to give you some more information about Giving Tree Associates and our firm.
We, as Steven mentioned, are based out of Chicago. We were founded in 2008, and since then have worked with over 160 nonprofit institutions both in Chicago and across North America and we really focus on a lot of different areas, including annual and capital campaigns, we do strategic planning, executive search and board and leadership development and I feel very honored to be able to talk with you all today to be able to provide some insight into what we’ve learned in working with nonprofits across faith denominations. We work with nonprofits in the human services sector, the arts and humanities and other sectors.
So welcome to everybody and I also want to hear from you all before we jump into our content for today. So if you haven’t already gotten the chat box, just take a minute and tell me what organization you’re from and your role. I just want to get a sense of who’s on the webinar today.
We have someone from the Heart House Hospice. We have a program director on the webinar, an executive director, someone from an arts organization, amazing, sports organization, philanthropic outreach, a consultant like myself. Very nice. Development officer, great. Wonderful.
It’s really helpful to me to have this background because today our conversation will really touch on all of your backgrounds. So whether you represent a small organization, a large organization, an established organization that’s been around for 50 or 100 years or startup, whether you’re on a development team or program team or otherwise, all of you have the opportunity to build this culture of philanthropy, which is what we’re going to talk about today and to really create this with your colleagues and with your lay leaders. I think it’s an exciting opportunity for us to talk about this together and we’re going to focus our agenda today on main areas.
The first is going to be we’re going to talk a little bit about how to define a culture of philanthropy. I’ll give you some language to think about what a culture of philanthropy looks like and the difference between creating a culture of philanthropy and creating a culture of charity. Then I’m going to provide you all with some key characteristics of a culture of philanthropy, which involves your leadership thinking about what systems you have in place and the opportunities in your own organization.
We’ll spend a couple minutes talking about the role of the board, which I think is really important to building this culture and making sure that board members are aligned and they understand and they’re leading this effort at your own organization. And then finally we’ll talk about some easy steps that you all can take out of today’s webinar and start to implement tomorrow, and as Steven mentioned, we’ll have some time for questions at the end, but obviously if anything comes up before then, feel free to chat it and I will try to get to it.
I’m going to start us off with a brief exercise to kind of get us up and running today. All of you on this webinar came here to explore how to build a culture of philanthropy at your own organization, to learn about it. And so I recently came across an article on GuideStar’s blog that was written by a company called Clarification, and they focused on how you build a culture of philanthropy at your organization in response to what your fundraising problem might be.
So I’m going to ask all of you to think about your own organizations and your own fundraising and think about where you fall into one of these three buckets, and in this case we’re going to focus on the red, yellow and green lights in a traffic light. So when I describe these three, feel free to chat in the box if you feel like this represents you and your organization.
The first problem that some organizations face in fundraising is the green color where your organization might perceive that you really don’t need much philanthropy. Maybe you have a small budget and only a part of that budget needs to be fundraising related. Maybe you feel like it’s not essential that you’re fundraising right now and you really don’t have an issue finding donors as a result.
One organization we work with at Giving Tree, they’re kind of fitting into this bucket. They get a lot of their funding from school districts in the local community so 90-plus percent of their budget comes from this income, so they don’t really feel the need to have to raise money. So that’s the green bucket.
Some of you might feel like at your organization that you haven’t had very reliable sources of income in the past but now they’re drying up, whether that’s government funding, in some cases it might be membership dues or tuition and you’re feeling like you can’t find the funding that you’re looking for. You have some history of raising money but you’re kind of cautious, you’re yellow. You don’t really know which steps to take and you don’t know really quite the way forward. So if you feel like that represents you, feel free to write that into the chat box.
And then finally, are you or your organization in the red zone? Which we can say it kind of feels like a dangerous place to be. Have you faced such cutbacks at your company or your organization where you feel like you don’t know what’s next or how to get there and you’re kind of in this point of danger where you’re either considering closing or thinking about merging or just trying to figure out a new income stream? So that’s the red.
I wanted to start with a visual exercise because regardless of where you fall on the spectrum, I’m sure many of you, it looks like from the chat box, are falling into the yellow, into the red zone, a little bit of green. That’s okay. Whatever you’re bringing to the conversation today is exactly where you need to be coming from. We’re all going to be in agreement as we go through the rest of the presentation today that you can plan for where you want to be regardless of where you’re coming from and there’s nothing wrong with being where you are and also training and thinking about the future. So I think that’s just an important point going into this conversation is for you to just know that you’re not alone.
I also just wanted to share some findings that came out in a recent study by CompassPoint. They did a national study of challenges facing nonprofit fundraisers and there’s a full report that you can find online, but I wanted to bring this to your attention because you might be, at your own organization, you might be feeling alone, like you might be the only person in that red zone or in that yellow and that this is really an issue across the sector.
The CompassPoint study actually surveyed more than 2,700 executive directors and development directors and I kind of pulled out a few key findings that I thought would be interesting to all of you on this webinar. The first is looking at the size of an organization and how that affects their ability to create a culture of philanthropy. So 41% of respondents felt that their organization did not have a culture of philanthropy and that the larger organizations in particular, 50% reported that they lacked it compared to just 38% of small organizations.
So that may be surprising to some of you, maybe not. But I think that this is a reality. A lot of larger nonprofits, some of you represent these across the country, you might have a very professional development team that is departmentalized and kind of runs itself and is self-sufficient, and that you don’t really feel integrated with the rest of the organization, and because of that, you feel like they’re really isn’t a culture of philanthropy.
Whereas, if you come from a smaller organization, you might feel like you have to utilize your team in a different way to raise money, then you kind of are sharing roles or combing roles. So the size of an organization does affect your ability to create the culture, but again, it’s possible across all shapes and sizes.
The second point I want to make related to this study is that leadership makes a big difference in how you create a culture of philanthropy. So you can see on the screen that 20% of executives who were polled strongly agree that they had a culture of philanthropy while only 12% of development directors felt the same way. So as you can see here, there’s sometimes a disconnect among leadership. Some leadership on the executive team might feel like the culture is there, whereas the people who are implementing day to day, many of you on this call, don’t feel that same message and that same culture. So there’s a lot of work to do there to make sure people are aligned.
And then finally, 14% of development directors dislike asking for money, while 18% of executive directors feel that the same way. What this says about our sector and specifically around fundraising is that there’s a lot of education to really get to a point where people feel like they feel comfortable asking for money, but that there’s a plan in place to get there. So today’s conversation will really help to illustrate how you get to that new culture of philanthropy.
So I just want to take a moment to explain for everybody on the call, when I say “culture of philanthropy,” what am I talking about? So the definition I’m going to use today is from that same report, the CompassPoint report, which is that a culture of philanthropy refers to a set of organizational values and practices that support and nurture development or fundraising within an organization.
Also, Giving Tree really believes very strongly in this. We recommend this across the board to our clients that building a culture of philanthropy should be a priority and it needs to be a priority. And in order to reach that point, it needs to be something that everyone at the organization values and supports.
So even if you at your organization feel like, “Well, we have a development person so we’re good.” At the Giving Tree, we feel like that’s not the starting or the stopping point. That’s really an opportunity for growth. It’s an opportunity for organizations to shift their mindset and to really be able to create something that’s sustainable and long term and is done across the organization.
So we’re going to share with you today ways to create that and the first thing to understand in order to do that is to think about your own fundraising at your organization. Again, as I describe these, feel free to chat in where you feel like you are at your organization. If you’re a development staff person or not, feel free to comment where you feel like your organization lands in these two areas.
At Giving Tree, we often talk about fundraising in two different ways. There’s a lot of organizations out there today, some of your organizations might be in this place of what we call transactional fundraising, where maybe once or twice a year you reach out to your donors and you send a direct mail piece or you call them over the phone and ask them to make a donation, but that’s really the contact you have with your donors.
Sometimes that means that you don’t talk to your donors throughout the year and the only times you’re talking to them is when you’re asking them for a gift. So if you feel like that kind of represents your strategy currently, feel free to comment.
Then secondly, where we try to push organizations to get to is a relationship-based model. Relationship-based fundraising is a year-round approach. It’s gradual. It’s open-ended and it’s an opportunity to have a process around your fundraising. So relationship-based fundraising is happening between those asks. You’re engaging with donors throughout the year, you’re inviting them to events, you’re reaching out to them personally. You’re giving them active communication and information.
So it sounds like from the chat boxes, some of you feel like you’re in the transactional space and some of you feel like you’re in the relationship. So what I’m going to say to that is that regardless of where you are, the goal is really about building lasting relationships. You want to build relationships with your donors so that they’re giving multiple gifts of increasing value, not just a one-time donation, that you’re building a committed donor base that continues to grow over time, and the way to do that is to really make sure that you’re interacting with them on a frequent basis and not just during that ask. Having this approach will help you create that culture of philanthropy.
Another way to look at it for all of you, and again, feel free to comment if you feel like this describes your organization, so many of you might be coming to the conversation today thinking, “Well, I have a donor list that I’m responsible for or my team is. We’re taking in gifts, we’re receiving money every year. We’re reaching our budget. We’re in a good place,” and that might be very true.
These are actually all characteristics of what we refer to as a culture of charity. A culture of charity is really focused on the short term and making sure you’re meeting your organizational needs on a yearly basis. For those of you who feel like you’re in that yellow or in that red zone, this is maybe where you need to be right now, and that might be your reality. But I want you, as part of this webinar, just encourage you to think about how you kind of shift from that culture of charity to that culture of philanthropy. And that culture of philanthropy is really about thinking through how you pursue philanthropic investments in the longer term, so I’ll give you a quick example, which I think will be helpful to think about for everybody.
If you’re a culture of philanthropy, this is a very busy time of year for many of us on this call. It’s December, it’s a busy time for a lot of nonprofit organizations at the end of your fiscal year and an opportunity for you to meet your budget and your goal for the end of the year. And let’s say you have a potential donor that you want to have a conversation with and ask them for a $5,000 gift in order to reach your goal.
If you’re in a culture of philanthropy, you would consider potentially not asking that donor right now for that $5,000 gift. Maybe that’s a new donor to your organization who just got involved and doesn’t really know a lot about your organization. They have the capacity but what if you waited three or four months to ask them for a gift? If you did some more cultivation and getting to know that donor, maybe you could increase that gift to $10,000 or even $15,000.
So meeting your goals and also thinking long term, this is a challenge and everybody on the call, I just want to acknowledge that I know this is challenging and that there is a need to raise the money you need to reach your goal, but it’s important that you also think about the long term, especially as you grow.
I just had a question come in that I think I’ll try to answer very quickly about if you’re building your endowment department from scratch, do you have to build a culture of charity before you build a culture of philanthropy? That’s a really great question. I think, yeah, we’ll talk about that a little bit later on in the presentation. We’ll be able to talk through kind of what the infrastructure needs to be in order for you to start to build out your development department and your development team, and ultimately you should still be planning for that culture of philanthropy.
I’m going to move us along and talk a little bit about culture because we’ve spent a lot of time talking about fundraising and what fundraising looks like and so I think it’s important that we also define culture. So for all of us at our own organizations, you all have existing cultures that are embedded within your organization and we at Giving Tree like to think about culture and define it as an organization’s attitudes and beliefs, and ultimately, the behaviors that they take as it relates to, in this case, the philanthropy.
We often say to our clients, and believe this strongly, that your own organizational culture is what’s going to drive your outcome, your outcome being raising money and reaching your fundraising goal. From our perspective, if you have a director of development or a development manager or a team doing development, that’s great. But you don’t just want to limit it to this team. You’re limiting how many people you can engage and what you can accomplish if you’re not utilizing the resources of the entire organization.
So if you are able to shift the behaviors of your organization and ultimately shift that culture, what does that mean? It means being able to involve your board, your executive director, your program staff, even your operations staff. Everybody can be involved in this culture shift. If you feel like you’re kind of stuck right now and you’re not sure who to ask to help to build that culture, that’s totally okay. We’ll explore that a little bit more during this call. Or if you feel like your board doesn’t really do any fundraising right now, that’s okay too.
But, again, the ultimate goal here is to create a culture where everybody is involved and that you can shift the culture of your organization and over time, culture shift can happen. I just want to take a moment to acknowledge that this topic is very great in theory but it can be challenging during implementation, so just know that if you decide this is a priority that you want to try to integrate into your own organization, that it can take time, but ultimately, you’re trying to reach a better place and also be able to, again, change the outcome so that you can continue to grow as an organization.
So if you have questions about that, feel free to chat it or I will answer them a little bit later. But I want to take us through now what I see as some of our key characteristics of building a culture of philanthropy and for many of you on this call, these are some things that you feel like represent you very well, and then some of them maybe less so. So feel free to chat in the boxes as I run through these if you feel like this defines your organization or if you feel like this is an area of growth for you.
The first characteristic I want to talk about with all of you is this concept of viewing development and valuing it as much as your mission-aligned program. So all of you represent nonprofit organizations with amazing missions, you’re doing programs and services and other offerings. And our biggest recommendation when thinking about a culture of philanthropy is making sure that you’re valuing development in fundraising just as much as those other areas of focus.
One way to do that that’s really simple is just to think about a staff meeting that you’re a part of or a board meeting that you might be involved in. Where is fundraising on the agenda? Is it at the last five minutes of your board meeting, somebody comes up to the front and said, “Okay, this is how much we’ve raised so far?” Or is it prioritized on the agenda?
Organizations that prioritize it have it higher up on the agenda, they spend more time focused on it, talking about it, sharing resources, conversing about it. So I would recommend that that’s one place to start is to think about where your own organizations talk about fundraising within your agendas.
Then the second thing I would say to think about is how you make sure that everyone is accountable to fundraising. So fundraising can’t just be a priority for one individual. So all of you on this call joined because you see it as a priority, which is great, but it’s a shared responsibility, as we’ve talked about. It’s a shared responsibility for the board, it’s a shared responsibility for your executive director, your director, your CEO, and the entire staff and your colleagues.
So part of what you recommend for me out of this webinar is to think about how to create that shared accountability for fundraising, and one way to do that is to make sure that you have the systems and technologies in place to support it. So how many of you on this call have a donor database, for example? Have you chatted in which donor database people are using? Bloomerang? That’s good. Anyone else using Little Green Light, it looks like, [inaudible 00:28:28], Salesforce, DonorPerfect? Great. Raiser’s Edge, very nice. And Google Spreadsheets, okay. Wonderful.
So there’s a lot of different, as you can see, systems and processes that you can take. But the important thing is to make sure that you have those in place as you do your fundraising. So as I mentioned, the database is important. Do you have pledge agreements? Do you have a gift acceptance policy? Do you have ways to track not only current donors but prospective donors?
Is your accounting department synced up with your development department so that they’re talking to each other and you know when a gift comes in how that’s being tracked financially? Does your website have a donation page where people can donate? These are all things and systems that you should be thinking about putting in place as you build this culture of philanthropy.
Then the next two I want to just briefly talk about are what it means to have a clear and concise mission and vision, and also a need for support, which is sometimes called “a case for support.” We feel like it’s very important that you have language to describe what your fundraising needs are and this collective commitment to what that is. It’s not enough to be able to say, “We want to raise money on behalf of children in this area,” but to be a little bit more specific and to be able to offer what the value is for the donor to be able to donate to that cause, what do they get out of donating? What does that need look like for your organization?
By having those materials and having that language, there will be a shared, again, accountability, a shared language that people can use when talking about your fundraising effort. So how many people feel like they have this case for support already in hand and know it for their own organization? Yes, a lot of people do. Great. But for those of you who feel like you have it, that’s great.
And think about if you don’t have it or you’re not sure what it is, who can you ask at your own organization to get a sense of what that case is? Can you talk to your CEO about it? Can you talk to your marketing person, your development team? If it needs work, taking the time to really focus on that because, again, having that case for support is going to help you in all areas of your organization in building that culture.
I want to spend just a couple more minutes talking about key characteristics. There’s a few more that I think are probably relevant to many of you on this call. So I want to talk for a moment just about having an engaged, professional, and lay leadership. We’re going to talk about the board specifically in a couple minutes, but it’s really important when you’re thinking about building this culture to know that you have the support of your leadership and that your leadership has a good reputation, that people respect your leadership, your executive leadership.
If you are in a place right now where you don’t have an active CEO or are searching for that, this might be a time to take a pause on building this culture until that leadership is in place. And same with the board. Sometimes organizations are building or restructuring their boards. That’s something that we work on at Giving Tree with some organizations, and so you really want to make sure that you’re in a good place in both of those areas before launching into building this culture.
Then from there, an important thing to do is to think about your donors. So specifically your donors, there needs to be a commitment to dialog and stewardship. These are all words that we hear a lot in fundraising, but it’s really important that you have a plan in place throughout the year in order to continue to have conversations and to steward donors, and again, this goes back to relationship-based fundraising.
An example I’ll give is that I talked a little bit earlier on in webinar about an institution that we work with who gets most of their funding from school districts locally, which is great. But because of that, they don’t have a donor base and right now they’re trying to launch a capital campaign and that can be really challenging when you don’t have the donors or the relationships. So regardless of where you are, whether you’re in that green area, as I talked about earlier, or the yellow or the red, it’s important that you prioritize. That’s your chip piece and that relationship piece that we talked about earlier.
Then from there, you’ll have the opportunity to hopefully provide engagement opportunities with your donors. How many of you have opportunities for donors to come see your program or experience one of your services or attend one of your classes? Do people have examples? A lot of people are doing this currently. Wonderful.
Another example of this someone just gave is if you have a facility where people can take a tour, that’s a great way for a donor to learn about your services. Office tours or classes. Great. Wonderful. So there’s a lot of different ways to do this.
But, again, you want to be thinking about how you are creating that ongoing relationship and, ultimately, when you’re able to do this and create a culture of philanthropy, you’re not only creating a culture of giving where people are being able to contribute to your organization, but you’re creating a culture of asking, so you’re going to be doing both, which is amazing when it works well together. If you’re aiming for this characteristic, you’re really building a long term strategy at not only giving but asking. And donors are going to want to be engaged and involved within your organization and that’s really the ultimate goal here.
One last but very important part of this is to think about your board. Some of you on this call might not have a direct relationship with the board or work directly with the board and that’s okay, and some of you might. So I think it’s just as important to clarify what we see as the role of the board in creating a culture of philanthropy and I’ll just start by saying that we feel like it’s very important for the board to be involved in creating this culture and this is really an indicator of success. We really believe that it’s not just the responsibility of a small group of volunteers like your development committee or your fundraising committee, but the entire board should see this as a priority that building capacity is important.
I know many of you on this call might feel like, “Well, our board is involved. They help with our endowment campaign,” or, “We have an upcoming anniversary that our board is helping to plan for,” or, “We’re about to launch a capital campaign and our board is involved.” All of that is wonderful and it’s great to see that engagement, but I think it also needs to be taken a step further and the board should be involved 100% of the time in all fundraising efforts.
We also encourage all board members to give a gift to the nonprofit that they sit on their board. A hundred percent participation and leading by example are all things that help to build this culture of philanthropy. So you can see on this slide that having the whole board involved and making sure that they understand their role in building this culture, and then they can also articulate your own case for support, which we talked about earlier. These are all markers of building a culture of philanthropy.
Something for everyone to be thinking about as you leave this webinar is what is your board culture look like currently? For example, how often does your board meet? What do those meetings look like? Are there term limits? What is your board giving structure? I know we have some questions coming in about that. What does that currently look like and how could that be different in order to create this culture of philanthropy? These are all things to consider as you’re building this culture.
Again, the most important thing is that this group of people who represent your organization, they understand the importance of fundraising and are able to lead by example.
I wanted to spend a couple minutes talking about next steps and then we’ll spend some time answering questions and having some conversation about this further, but many of you on this call are probably thinking about, “Okay, how do I take the theory that Lani has just shared and apply it within my own organization?” I think it’s really important to know that this can actually be applied as soon as you get off of this webinar.
We really believe that building a culture of philanthropy can start tomorrow. Consider tomorrow your day one. So even if you’ve been with your organization for a month or 2 years or 10 years, you all can make a difference, and that’s within your own organization, that everyone bears some responsibility for improving the attitude toward philanthropy.
Again, we’ve talked about this earlier that making sure that there’s a partnership between your board, your executive director, and the development team and yourselves, making sure that there is a partnership happening to build this culture. My first recommendation to all of you as you jump off this call is to have a conversation with your supervisor and discuss what you learned on this webinar. Share some of the 10 key characteristics that we talked about earlier and spend some time conducting assessments of your organization. So get a checklist, have a conversation and kind of explore where the areas of growth are for you.
As you have these conversations, I think there was also this mentality and it’s important to remember that this is about developing something in the long term. It’s about having this perspective of long term planning and long term thinking. Building a culture of philanthropy is not something that happens overnight. It’s not something that happens at one board meeting or during one staff conversation. It’s about coming up with a plan for [ inaudible 00:40:40].
There are a lot of resources out there on how to build a culture of philanthropy. I would say it’s definitely a hot topic right now. There’s a CompassPoint report that I referenced earlier that’s a really great resource. Forward Source, which does a lot of work with nonprofit boards of directors has a lot of good information about this topic, and there’s others too, including Black Box Institute recently came out with a report focused on building a culture of philanthropy. All of these different organizations can help support you and are things to think about.
And then of course, Giving Tree Associates, we’re happy to be a resource to you as you think about how to build this culture of philanthropy. We do blogposts and other resources that we give out on similar topics related to philanthropy. We’re also on Facebook and Facebook Live if you ever want to tune in and ask your questions about this topic or any other fundraising-related topic. Then we also offer coaching and consulting services to you all in the nonprofit sector.
So there’s opportunities to continue the conversation and as you think about how to shift to a culture of philanthropy and begin to build this for your own organization, it’s just important to note that you can prioritize this and know that there are steps you can take to get there. And I appreciate you all taking the time to listen in and think about this for your own organization.
Steven:Cool. Thanks, Lani. Really great information. I knew it would be and I appreciate you taking an hour out of your day to put this together for us. Thanks for being here and thanks again to all of you for also taking an hour out of your day. I know it is a super busy time of year, you’re probably doing year-end giving stuff and maybe even thinking about next year, so really appreciate you being here.
Yeah, we do have time for Q&A. We’ve probably got about maybe 11, 12 minutes for Q&A. If you haven’t sent a question in yet, please do so. We’ve got some time. Lani, if it’s okay, I’m just going to roll through what we’ve already seen in the Q&A.
A lot of people are asking about the board and the staff members. You touched on it a little but Emily here is wondering how does soliciting, asking staff members for donations fit into a culture of philanthropy? Do you think that it should be 100% blanket requirement that all employees give? Should it be optional but maybe you kind of encourage it? What have you seen maybe from organizations you’ve worked with or maybe some of your clients in terms of employee giving?
Lani:Sure, Emily, thank you for that question. That’s definitely something to be thinking about. We talked about this a little bit earlier on in the call that you can be fundraising from a lot of different audiences, whether your funding comes from the government or foundations or corporations or major donors, individual donors. Your board members, obviously, should be giving to your organization, and then, yeah, there’s obviously the staff component to this.
We often encourage organizations to think about doing a staff campaign. Before I joined Giving Tree Associates, I worked, as Steven mentioned, for the Jewish Federation System and we created an entire staff committee that was committed to soliciting donations from staff members.
Again, the important part doing that is to think through what that messaging is, how you want people to feel connected. They obviously feel connected to your mission but they’re working for you and on behalf of you, but what is the reason they should be giving as part of this campaign. I think building that into your culture can take time. I don’t think that there is one way of doing it.
I think that it’s important to think about it as you think about your whole strategy and you’re building that culture and I think this is something that is really useful to work on and to express interest in if you are interested in building it with your team, with your supervisor, and start to have that conversation and create that culture shift if it’s a new priority for you. So it’s definitely, I would say, an important thing to think about and to do as you build this culture of philanthropy.
Steven:Yeah, I would just add, Lani, it seems like it’s more prevalent, and you can correct me if you think I’m wrong, but it seems to be more prevalent among kind of those national kind of chapter groups. Like my wife works for the Alzheimer’s Association and employee giving is a very big thing for them. It’s not required but it’s strongly sort of impressed upon them that it would be nice if you gave an an employee. Yeah, I love your advice there about there not being a one-size-fits-all answer.
Lani:Yeah, I agree with you. It really depends on the organization. Yeah, go ahead.
Steven:What about board giving? I think you got people thinking about how the board can play a role in this. Abby, in particular, says here . . . it sounds like she’s thinking about introducing the concept of an expectation of board giving but there hasn’t been one with the current board, so how do you make that shift? Do you just all of a sudden present it and hope it doesn’t freak them out? Do you have to fire your board and bring on all new board members with that expectation? Is there a happy medium? What should you do there?
Lani:Great question, Abby. It’s a challenging area. I think that generally fundraising organizations prioritize fundraising differently on their boards. It’s something that we’re seeing in our work. So one of the things that we work on a lot is how to shift that culture, starting with the board, so you can ultimately build this culture of philanthropy. I would say one of the things to be thinking about are a few things.
One, does your board have a policy related to board giving? A lot of times when we work with nonprofits, some nonprofits have what’s called a give-get policy, which is a policy that’s in place that nonprofits either give a minimum donation personal gift to the nonprofit that they serve on the board or they raise that money from others. A lot of organizations are putting this in place and finding that it’s important to have guidelines. If you do want to create this culture of giving, that there’s guidelines in place that the board members know they need to reach.
I would say that if it’s something that your organization is interested in, that it can take time to adopt it. It might take a year or two years, three years, before board members feel like they’re bought into it and understand it and are reaching for it. And in some cases if you do institute this policy and a board member says, “I’m not interested,” sometimes that does cause some board members to shift off the board or to be asked to leave.
Sometimes that culture shift does happen to allow you to reach the better fundraising culture for your organization in the long term, but there’s oftentimes coaching and conversations that need to happen around that. So that’s definitely something that I’ve seen a lot. It’s something we work on at Giving Tree with our clients.
Steven:I think we have to be okay with some of those board members potentially rolling off, right?
Steven:I mean, it’s just something we kind of have to . . . yeah.
Lani:And it does happen, and depending on when your organization was founded, how long the board has been around for, sometimes, especially if you are a newer organization and you did not start with that culture of philanthropy, sometimes that shift does need to happen and some board members might leave, which can be very difficult and it’s challenging. So part of, again, building this culture is thinking about this in a more longer term.
Steven:Katherine just added a comment in the chat I wanted to share, that most foundations, granting organizations require 100% board participation to even consider you for funding. So that may be the biggest reason alone, if you go after grants and other types of funding like that, to go ahead and do this.
Lani:That’s a requirement, exactly.
Steven:What about volunteers? We’ve had a lot of people asking about the role of volunteers. We’re just kind of ticking off all the constituent types here. This is great.
Heather is asking about heavy volunteerism at her organization, maybe feels a little bit nervous about also asking them to donate. It seems like there’s always this hesitation, right, to not ask volunteers to donate in addition to volunteering because they’re already giving their time and their manpower/womanpower and energy. Should we just get over that and ask for money? Should you consider different volunteer thresholds in terms of what you ask? What do you think about that?
Lani:Yeah, I think that’s a great question, Heather, and really interesting to think about. I know nonprofits in general rely very heavily on volunteers for their programs, their services, obviously the board as well as the volunteers [inaudible 00:50:55] in a volunteer capacity. So I think in particular for volunteers, there are different ways to approach this. I think that most important is that you’re offering multiple opportunities for people to give back.
So one way that people like to give back is obviously through their time. Some people have more time than others. Some people are able to serve on a committee or plan an event or be involved in a board, which is a very time-heavy commitment, which is great. So I think you can obviously ask people to donate their time while at the same time asking them to give back financially. I think framing it in that way, that there’s a lot of different ways to be able to give to an organization, is key.
It’s all in how you approach those conversations which we can talk more about offline, but I think, just to start, that it’s important to feature it as an option for volunteers. And then I’ll just say based on my experience working for the Jewish Federation System, that a lot of times there are giving requirements to being involved in certain volunteer roles. For example, a lot of times boards have a minimum gift, but also if you want to serve on a committee to plan a fundraising event for the organization, well, then there’s also an expectation that you’re giving towards that event or towards that effort as well. So there’s opportunities to think about how you recruit volunteers and what the expectations are for the people within your network.
Steven:I guess it all just comes back to setting the expectation upfront, right?
Steven:It’s really hard to introduce it, yeah. That may be the entire takeaway from this presentation. That’s probably my biggest takeaway is to do that first. From a tactical standpoint, would you put those things in maybe your bylaws and those sorts of documents that you give to new board members that sort of run the governance of the organization? Is that kind of what you’re saying, that they should be written into those types of governance items?
Lani:Absolutely. Some of this can be written into your board bylaws, but one of the other things we recommend creating is just some board member expectations, which is for many of us who work in the nonprofit sector, we were given a job description on our first day or leading up to our first day in our staffing role and very similarly, volunteers also need that. They need to understand, and board members in particular need to understand what the implications are of being in their role.
Part of that is being able to describe for them not only, as I talked about earlier, how often the board meets, what the meetings look like, what the expectations are there, but to be able to talk about what those giving expectations are and to be able to very clearly outline what value you place on that and how the board can be involved, which can be a whole separate webinar. I think, Steven, if there’s interest in talking more about the board, I feel like we could do an hour just on that topic but there are definitely things that can be done to help that.
Steven:Yeah, I love it. Yeah, we’ll definitely cover that topic, hopefully with you guys next year. We’d love to have you back because this was awesome. We’re kind of running up against it and I want to give, Lani, you time to let people know how they can get in touch with you, maybe follow-up with you offline with questions because I know I didn’t get to nearly all the questions here and I’m so sorry for that. But, Lani, how can more people get in touch with you? Is it okay for people to email you additional questions? Would you be willing to do that?
Lani:Absolutely. My email address is up on the screen. It’s just firstname.lastname@example.org. Our website is givingtreeassociates.com if you want to learn more about us. We will also be just sending out some information to everyone who joined and also were unable to join with some resources and ways to get in touch with us. We look forward to continuing the conversation and if I can clarify anything or add any other feedback, feel free to reach out to me. It was a pleasure getting to speak with all of you on this Thursday morning and wish you the best of luck in creating this culture at your own organization.
Steven:Well, thank you for being here and sharing all this great wisdom with us. This was fun. I love how you made it super interactive. That was fun to see all the great ideas and questions and comments come through the chat.
We’ll call it a day there. We’re getting close to the 12:30 Eastern hour. I definitely appreciate all of you hanging out with us this morning. I know you’re very busy, got a lot of things going on. But if you enjoyed this, we’ve got a lot of other resources on the Bloomerang website. We’ve got tons of downloadables, templates, more webinar recordings.
We have recorded every webinar we’ve ever done for the last five years. I think there’s over, like, 300 topics and presentations that you can peruse if you’re interested and if you like this format of information. So check all that stuff out. We’ve even got a lot of year-end and gift acknowledgement resources that you may find useful coming up this month and next month, so check that out.
We’ve also got our annual BloomCon conference coming up in February. We’re going to be down in Phoenix, Arizona. We’ve got an awesome lineup that includes Adrian Sargeant, Claire Axelrad, Kivi Leroux Miller, and Kent Stroman. It’s a one-day conference. Really affordable, it’s only $99 and if you live in the Phoenix area, it’s an easy commute for you to get there. Check that out if you’re free on that day or maybe if you’re in the Southwest area.
We’ve also got a second BloomCon coming up in May in Baltimore. If you can’t quite make that date or location, you’ll have another chance to join us at BloomCon. Check that out. Early bird pricing, that $99 pricing does end at the end of December, so take advantage of that now.
We’ve got one more webinar. I can hardly believe we are at the end of the 2017 webinar schedule, but this is it. We’re going to have Terry Axelrod from Benevon joining us. We’re going to do a total Q&A session. This is an hour-long Q&A session. We’re not going to have a lot of prepared slides. This is your time to come to us with questions about donor recognition for all those gifts you’re going to get this month.
So if you’re looking at maybe revamping your thank you letters next year for January receipting purposes, thanking your year-end donors, thanking Giving Tuesday donors maybe, be on that call. You can send us your questions ahead of time when you register and me and Terry are just going to answer your questions live for an hour. It’s going to be a lot of fun.
We’ve done a couple town halls with Terry, it’s always a fun format and obviously it’s super interactive because we’ll just be answering your questions live. So check that out if you’re interested and we will have all the 2018 webinars up available for registration soon as well. So bookmark that page and be on the lookout for emails from me.
Speaking of emails from me, we’re going to be sending out the slides and the recording in just a couple hours, so be on the lookout for that. When we close the webinar you’re going to get a quick survey. I always love to hear your thoughts and feedback on the presentation, the format. You won’t hurt my feelings. I don’t think you’ll hurt Lani’s feelings either so do share your thoughts with us and hopefully we will see you next week, next Thursday for our town hall.
So we’ll call it a day there. Have a good rest of your Thursday. Have a safe weekend, a warm weekend, and we will hopefully talk to you next week. Bye now.