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
With the publication last week of BoardSource’s updated Ten Basic Responsibilities of Board Members, I’ve been thinking a lot about Crutchfield and Grant’s seminal Forces for Good book. The Ten Basic Responsibilities of Board Members list of the core, fundamental, legal responsibilities of a Board member has been gospel for all of us for many years. Most of us have relied on this list to orient our board members and to explain board members’ responsibilities for new members.
When BoardSource changed this list last week, BoardSource didn’t make the number of items on the list longer, but what it did do is determine that ADVOCACY is a core responsibility of Board Members. The responsibility to advocate for the mission is added to the first core responsibility (to determine an organization’s mission and purpose) and discussions of advocacy are added to several other responsibilities such as the responsibility to enhance an organization’s public standing.
How to Have Your Board Members Begging to Come Back
Russell, my husband and business partner who primarily works for the camping and retreat ministries of the United Methodist Church, made an off-hand comment in the car the other day. He mentioned that he was about to go do exit interviews with two of his board members who had completed their terms and rotated off the board and that both of them, in setting up the appointments, had said that they missed serving on the board so much, they hardly knew what to do. Imagine, having board members dying to come back on board!
On his way to interview them, I gave him some questions to ask so that we could all gain some insight about factors contribute to their board service being such positive experiences. This is what he learned from these interviews about what they felt was important to creating a great board culture:
In the nonprofit sector, we nonprofit professionals apply for positions in the nonprofit sector. We have experience with nonprofit jobs. Because we’re nonprofit professionals with nonprofit experience, applying for nonprofit jobs, we assume that the people who are reviewing our resumes understand what our titles and positions mean and entail. They don’t. Even if we list our accomplishments, they don’t get it. Too often, board members are hiring or sitting on the search committees that hire us. Those board members are almost always business people who don’t understand what’s involved in our jobs.
Nonprofit Board members are unprepared to govern. That’s the finding of the 2015 Survey on Board of Directors of Nonprofit Organizations, a study released in April jointly conducted by Guidestar, BoardSource, and the Stanford Business School.
What remedies would we pursue if we were to view the breakdowns in our systems of nonprofit governance as failures of the early stages of team building rather than as the [later] results of process and outcomes failures?