Solution: Building a Culture of Philanthropy

How can we begin to turn this challenge around?

Donors enter nonprofit organizations through various means. They buy tickets at theaters, become members of museums, visit attractions at parks, become grateful patients in hospitals, sponsor friends walking, running, riding to support various diseases and causes, etc. They get excited about the organization’s mission and step forward with an entry-level gift. At that moment, in a well- managed development operation, a donor record is created, the gift is recorded, the donor thanked immediately, and a next step of engagement is planned.

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The goal is always to keep in touch with the donor, encourage their participation (via events, services, activities) and, ultimately, obtain a renewal of the first gift. Over time the donor is encouraged to become more deeply involved and make larger gifts to support the mission. The most passionate supporters consistently make more generous gifts, and many are invited to volunteer or serve on the organization’s Board of Directors. Ultimately, if donors have been stewarded well the hope is that the charities they love will be remembered in their estate planning.

Organizations that successfully promote this kind of lifetime relationship with donors have built a strong “culture of philanthropy” in which leaders project a clear and actionable vision, staff is passionate about their work, and Board members and volunteers feel connected and valued.

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