In a previous post, I talked about three techniques to build fundraising capacity in your nonprofit organization. One of the three techniques I discussed was creating a culture of fundraising.
Creating a culture of fundraising is something I hear a lot of successful fundraisers talk about and is something that’s super important to me.
WHAT IS A CULTURE OF FUNDRAISING?
A culture of fundraising exists when everyone associated with your nonprofit (staff, board, donors, volunteers, etc.) supports and is involved with fundraising efforts and relationship building. Establishing a culture of fundraising includes everyone: staff, board, clients, volunteers, and other stakeholders. When you decide to begin working to create a culture of fundraising or strengthen the culture you’ve already established, include everyone in your action plan. Reach out to everyone; even those who you might think won’t be able to support your efforts. I promise this will pay off.
INCLUDING YOUR STAFF
Let’s start with the staff, your co-workers. The relationships that can best support your grant and other fundraising goals are those with your agency’s program staff. In order to know if what we are doing matches what a potential grant covers, it’s important for me to always be up to date in program work, successes, and challenges.
I accomplish this by constantly asking for stories from the program team. The best time for this request is at our monthly all-staff meeting, and it’s there that I link success to their stories. I talk about this at every all-staff meeting. I’ll even share success stories with the staff in regards to story sharing, and when I receive stories from staff I make sure I take the time to thank them and to send an agency-wide email thanking the team as a whole.
When talking about stories, invite staff to share stories in a way that is easy for them. They are super busy too, and you can create a story for a funder or potential funder from just a couple of sentences shared by a co-worker.
All donors want to know what their giving impact is, and foundations are the same way. Whether you are writing a grant or a report, stories from staff will strengthen your case.
You will begin to see success with this as soon as you ask. The culture change (or strengthening) will be evident when you begin to receive stories without having even asked for stories! Finally, don’t forget to thank your co-workers.
INCLUDING YOUR BOARD
The board also plays an important role in building a culture of fundraising. They know people, and it is very likely that your board members know board members at foundations. In every board report I include a list of foundations we would like to be introduced to, paying particular attention to foundations that are invite only. I also add names of people who I would like to meet to discuss a particular grant, knowing that one of our board members may have a relationship with one of those people.
Consistent communication with your board, using the same techniques as you use with your co-workers, will benefit your efforts. Just as you thank co-workers, thank board members. Show them the impact of their introductions.
It works. It really does.
INCLUDING YOUR VOLUNTEERS
Volunteers can also help you build a culture of fundraising. Regardless of the type of fundraising you’re doing or grant you are writing, volunteers can support in several ways. First, just like co-workers, they can share stories. Imagine the impact a volunteer’s story can have! Most foundations like hearing about volunteers and some foundations fund solely based on volunteerism. That all means that the more you can share from or about your volunteers the better.
Your volunteers can also support on the same level as board members, in regards to making introductions to foundations you would like to get to know. Taking the time to get to know your agency’s volunteers will allow you to learn who they may know that could support your fundraising or grant efforts. This will also allow you to share how they can be part of your culture of fundraising.
Creating a culture of fundraising can add so much to your grant writing and assist you in introducing a full picture of your agency, one that comes from the perspective of many people. The stronger your culture of fundraising is, the stronger your grant proposals can be.