I wanted this week to write my blog not about how organizations can hang onto fundraisers but how fundraisers can avoid going to work in impossible situations in the first place. It’s tough for fundraising professionals to ferret out the truth in the interview process because everyone is going to tell you that their culture is fantastic, that their workplace is pleasant (“we’re all one big family,”) and that goals are reasonable. Here are 8 questions to ask to get to the heart of the matter…
“Are you going to look for a new fundraising job?” my mom, brother, husband, and best friends all want to know.
“I don’t know,” I’ve been answering. “I feel like a woman who has just gotten out of a bad marriage and doesn’t yet feel like going on a date.”
…I believe the concept of a culture of philanthropy or the lack of one is a useful idea for understanding whether or not an organization is ready to begin and sustain a development program.
However, I also believe that part of how receptive an organization is to a development program has little to do with how it feels about fundraising and more to do with how it feels about change.
When I first went to work at the Children’s Center for Hope & Healing, a counseling center in Northeast Georgia, I longed for the staff I worked with to tell me clients stories. I knew I needed to be able to share our clients’ stories with donors and volunteers to inspire giving and volunteerism and, given that the organization was in dire financial straights when I began working for it, being able to motivate people to give was essential, but I just couldn’t—at least not initially—get the staff to share stories about the clients.
Signs Your Organization Lacks a Culture of Philanthropy – Part II
In an earlier post, I wrote about some of the ways that a board of directors reveals that an organization does not have a Culture of Philanthropy. Here I write about how some of an organization’s Executive Directors and staff members similarly make visible that an organization lacks a Culture of Philanthropy.
Too many organizations want to treat fundraising as an add-on, like an extra appendage sewn onto the body. Imagine attaching a limb—say an arm—to the body, but not connecting it to the circulatory and nerve system and not re-wiring the brain to recognize the new arm. How uselessly it would flop around! Eventually, without blood, oxygen, and the protection of the nerve system, the limb would die.
For fundraising to work – that is, for fundraising to be done as sustained, donor-centric development, rather than as an episodic, short-term, organization-centered fundraising, fundraising requires changes with which many organizations are simply not comfortable.
If fundraising hasn’t been an integral part of the organization’s life from its beginning, it has to be skillfully grafted on in a way that wires it to the brain and connects it to the body’s major systems.
Here are my 13 Ways an Organization Reveals That It Is Not Serious about Fundraising