Wait a Minute…Who Does the Fundraising Around Here?

Spoiler alert: everyone. I recently came across a compelling video of social justice leaders speaking about the challenges and rewards of fundraising. They offer hints about how to do it right, and those hints lead to getting more people involved.

Check out the video here.

You have probably heard the phrase “creating a culture of philanthropy,” but what does that really mean in practice? It means getting everyone at your organization involved in helping donors to make the impact they desire through giving. It means that your board members, program staff and front desk volunteers are all part of the fundraising team.

My favorite quote from the video: “Because the work matters to all of us at the organization, we all have to be involved in the fundraising.” But, why? Because you never know who your donors, or potential donors, will interact with as they get involved in your organization. Can you really expect that a donor can learn about your organization without having an interaction with anyone other than the Executive Director or Development Director? Even those of you with a staff of one (or zero) have board members and volunteers involved.

When everyone on the team feels responsible for fundraising, you have a much greater chance that these interactions are not only positive, but can lead to major gifts. After all, the goal of philanthropy is to help a donor make the impact they desire. If your team can assist in helping a potential donor understand the impact of your organization, it’s easier for that donor to decide if that impact coincides with the one they want to make on the world.

But how do you DO this? One person (or group) at a time. Share this video with team members. Meet with each person (or group) and share some specific ideas of how they can impact fundraising success. Make sure you recognize and appreciate staff and board members when they have a great interaction with a donor. Share that story with the staff/board members who “don’t get it” too, so you can help them connect the dots.

So remember that fundraising isn’t just your responsibility. If you want it done right, don’t do it all yourself! Every time I help a client write a fundraising plan, we take time to consider how others can be involved. If you need assistance creating a plan that involves other people, reach out and let me know. You’ll be relieved to know you’re not the only one responsible for fundraising.

Posted in Culture of Philanthropy

Three Keys to Development Success


Many of my clients are looking for greater development success. Together we can develop fundraising strategies and I work with my clients on creating a plan. But real fundamental change and breakthrough results happen when organizations prioritize fundraising as essential.

Two studies were recently done to explore fundraising more deeply. Although they had different goals and asked different questions, they drew basically the same conclusions. The first study, Beyond Fundraising, explored what “Culture of Philanthropy” means to organizations. The second, Fundraising Bright Spots, took a look at organizations that are achieving breakthrough results in individual giving. Here are the three common themes about successful nonprofit fundraising that emerged:

1. Development is not a separate function, it is central to mission work and a core part of the organization’s identity.

2. Development is not a one person job. It’s a shared responsibility that goes way beyond the person with the development job title. Everyone has a part to play.

3. Engaged relationships with donors drive success. Development is not just a transaction of money moving from one place to another; it’s driven by meaningful relationships between staff, board members, and volunteers with donors.

A strategic fundraising plan is important. Fundraising staff support is important. Having an engaged board is important. Just know that true transformational change happens when development seeps into every cell of the organization – every staff member, every board member, every program, and every opportunity to build relationship with donors.

To read the studies for yourself, download the PDF’s here:
Beyond Fundraising
Fundraising Bright Spots

Posted in Culture of Philanthropy

It’s Always a Season for Service

Earlier this month I was asked to be the keynote speaker for the Alpha Phi Omega Section 49 Conference in St. Louis. APO is a National Co-Ed Service Fraternity on college campuses around the country encouraging college students to get involved in community service. I was a member as an undergrad at Colorado State University, and an advisor for the St. Louis University chapter when we lived there from 1998-2002. I got to speak to about 200 college students about how “It’s Always a Season for Service.”

Here’s what I shared with them, in a nutshell: community service will look different at different times in your life. Right now, you can sign up to serve in a soup kitchen or help build a home with your friends, but that isn’t the only way you can provide service to your community.

I told these college students that you can live a life of service. For example, you could:
• Join a young professionals board
• Do random acts of kindness
• Make treats for a neighbor
• Make a meal for a friend
• Give food to someone who is experiencing homelessness
• Be a mentor or a tutor
• Help your parents
• Run, golf, ride, or bowl for charity
• Volunteer or raise money for your kids’ school

Basically, if you look for ways to help others, you will find plenty of options. This is living a life of service. I chose a career that allows me to be of service, as did you. We know first hand that living a life of service feels amazing. As cheesy as it sounds, we get to make the world a better place every day, and I always want my job to fit that description.

When I was in St. Louis, they told me that some of the programs I helped launch when I was there are still going today, and have given over 100,000 hours of community service to the St. Louis community. This is impressive! But it doesn’t stop there. How many ways have those students gone on to impact their communities after college? It’s truly a ripple effect when we get college students involved in helping others.

They are our future leaders, board members and donors, and giving them our attention now will have an impact for years to come! So how can you can get college students and recent college graduates involved with your mission in a meaningful way??

Posted in Culture of Philanthropy