5 Ways to Strengthen Your Organization’s Philanthropic Culture

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  • Embrace Philanthropy—What it is, and What it does

Philanthropy is the desire to promote the welfare of others, expressed especially by the generous donation of money to causes that create positive circumstances for people and a community. The practice of giving money and time to help others is the heart of philanthropy. The word philanthropy comes from the Latin word philanthropia, from the Greek philein (to love) and Anthropos (human being), and was first used in the early 1600’s.

Voluntary Action for the Public Good.–Philanthropy is not simply fundraising, and it’s not simply stewardship. It’s that and more. The central motivation for philanthropic giving is for the common good: to help make people’s lives and circumstances better.

  • Form a Philanthropy Team—everyone is essential.

From the receptionist to the Executive Director, everyone on staff is a part of the team that creates the culture of philanthropy reflected in your organization. Every encounter makes a difference in creating an impression about your organization and how it is run.

If the first person your donor or volunteer encounters in your organization does not understand the importance of philanthropy, you could lose your donor.

  • Philanthropy Begins with the Leadership—100% participation and no less.

When you assume a leadership role in an organization—particularly board leadership—you must demonstrate your commitment to the financial health of the organization. Every member of the board and financial leadership must make an annual contribution within their means. Every year. If the organization is not worthy of its leadership’s generosity and support, how can they expect others to give at levels appropriate to their capacity?

  • Conveying your organization’s mission, vision and values to inspire generosity and loyalty in the hearts of your supporters.

The development of your organization’s philanthropic culture increases your level of sustainability for the long haul. Your strongest supporters will be those who are passionate and committed to what your organization does to make a difference in the world and its inhabitants. Ideally, the return on the philanthropic investment in your organization on the part of leadership and donors will be the real impact of those you serve. Sharing the outcomes of donor generosity is essential–let people know the great things you have been able to accomplish because of their generosity and support!

  • Express appreciation with sincerity and joy

When the organization is accountable to its donors and honor the intentions of their gifts, authentic relationships and community are nurtured. As organization leaders, we can be attentive to donor needs for recognition and advocates for donor interests in how their funds are used within the organization. Thank often and share your stories of success and making a difference!

May you discover new ways to create and nurture a culture of philanthropy in your organization each and every day~

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Laurel Amabile, CFRE, Giving Speaks blog

Sources of inspiration for this post:

Collins, Mary Ellen. Essential Assets. Advancing Philanthropy, Winter 2015.

Payton, Robert L. Philanthropy: Voluntary Action for the Public Good. www.paytonpapers.org