Senior Living Business: Fundraising Strategies For Today’s Economy-
Establishing A ‘Culture Of Philanthropy’ Is The Important First Step
Fund development is a slow, relation-ship-driven process. Some organizations are extremely sophisticated in their fund development; others, not so much. If the organization has a clear message and is able to articulate its case—and people see the results of contributions given in the past—then the fundraising effort is more likely to be successful, even in today’s difficult economy.
An organization can run fundraising programs and raise money but is not necessarily advancing its cause without first establishing a “culture of philanthropy,” according to Allan Burrows, President of Capital Development Services in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. “There’s a tendency for a lot of organizations, especially when the economy is tight, to worry so much about the money that they forget the larger concept of philanthropy,” he said.
Establishing a culture of philanthropy starts with the board—aligning it strategically and then having a dialogue. If the board does not endorse or is not engaged in establishing that culture as a priority, it’s an uphill battle. All other stakeholders must also agree. Everyone must also understand that they may be asked to contribute.
Part of the dialogue may simply involve changing the semantics or adjusting perspectives. As an example, Burrows pointed out that it’s not the organization that has needs; rather, it’s the residents that have needs, and the organization is best suited to provide the services that can alleviate those needs.
Likewise, the words “fundraising” and “philanthropy” have different connotations. “People don’t like fundraising,” he said. “Philanthropy, however, is altruistic. It reflects generosity. So simply incorporating that language into the day-to-day operations is an easy first step to begin the dialogue and help everything else—the logistics of developing a successful program—fall into place.”
Accountability plays into the fundraising prioritization as much as receiving the contributions. The organization must practice good stewardship, good accounting, good acknowledgement, and good communications, as plenty of other worthy causes are competing for the same dollars.
“You can learn the skills,” Burrows added. “You can provide training to the board. But you still have to develop the overarching theme of building a culture of philanthropy to make the program systemic and sustainable.”...Want to read more? Click here for a free trial to Senior Living Business and download the current issue today