Making The 3.5% Increase Good News: Responding to Giving USA

winston churchill

Giving is up 3.5%.  Does that give you reason to feel promise?  Or is it cause for continued anxiety?  Either way you look at it, the 2013 Giving USA report reminds us of the fact that philanthropy continues to be an American value and one whose impact is felt globally.

So, as you find time to read through this report or focus on the highlights, here are three things you can do before the end of summer to make this report even more applicable in your work.

  1. Make the data relevant to philanthropy at your organization
  • Understand the percentage of giving from individuals, corporations, foundations, and bequests to your organization:  what does your portfolio look like?  (For our podcast on building a balanced portfolio, click here and find episode 23.)
  • Think about how your percentages compare to national trends:  If giving from individuals is low, you have a case to increase time and energy in building your individual giving program especially since individuals account for more than 83% of giving nationally (this number raises to more than 86% when you account for family foundations).

2.  Create your own Giving USA report focused on your organization

  • Leverage your existing annual report with even more stories – and photos! – of impact.
  • Take the time now to create brief impact statements to share with your donors now. Share stories of recent impact rather than only telling the story of things you accomplished more than a year ago.
  • Find five well-connected champions within your donor base to share your story and their involvement through their social media channels.  Increase this number as you refine this approach.

3. Share highlights from the report with your top donors, prospects and volunteers

  • Have conversations about philanthropy with your current and potential donors.  How does your organization compare to others within your sector?  Sharing that context can generate pride in your strength, deepen understanding of the challenges you face and create motivation to be a part of the solution in your organization.
  • Use this as an opportunity to celebrate philanthropy, not just at your organization but to other causes as well!
  • And use this conversation as a springboard to other specific questions about donor philanthropy.  Where is our organization on your list of philanthropic priorities? How can we move up your list? What type of impact would you like to have with your philanthropy to our organization? Do you feel you are having this type of impact now? Why or why not?

Giving USA is a great resource we have to better understand the pulse of philanthropy on an annual basis. It provides great insight and detail on the type of philanthropy happening around the country and it’s up to us to have that same level of insight into giving at our own organizations. It’s a worthwhile quest and one that deepens our relationships with our donors and the investment they have in impacting our mission. Stay tuned for more perspectives on Giving USA from The Osborne Group.

Real and Lasting Good: A Culture of Philanthropy in Sustainability Planning

The numbers are in.

I know that you know:  Giving USA data was released this week. Researchers predict it will take at least five more years to raise as much as before the recession. When we look at imagesgiving over time, we see that bad economies can wreak havoc on our not-for-profits. Some die. Some cut services. Slashed government support doesn’t return at the same levels. How should NGOs protect themselves from the vagaries of the economy? How can YOU do better than the numbers predict over the coming six years?

Create a culture of philanthropy at your organization.

This isn’t pie in the sky stuff. It is powerful, successful, and sustainable.

First, let’s define our terms: a culture of philanthropy exists when everyone — your staff, your board, mission staff members like physicians, program leaders, faculty members, the CEO and other members of the c-suite – understands, believes in, embraces and acts on his or her roles and responsibilities in philanthropy in an investor-focused and co-ownership manner.

It starts at the top. Your CEO must be the first to get it. Philanthropy is a crucial component of the organization’s resource engine and therefore is everyone’s responsibility. Believe it. Embrace it. Act on it.

Co-ownership is the key. According to Cowan Global Consulting describes five levels of working partnerships starting at co-existing and moving past collaboration to the point five-degress-of-partnership-workingwhere everyone has stake, a share. Working with the fundraising team is an embraced responsibility, not a favor or something ones does when there is time.

That requires the CEO modeling the desired behaviors, celebrating successes, defining metrics, holding folks accountable and stewarding and rewarding outcomes.  Give yourself three years to achieve a true culture: 100% inspired, joyful, and generous giving from all staff, volunteers and board members;  everyone actively helping identify, engage, and steward donors and potential donors; everyone able to participate with adequate skills and understanding. Along the way, however, you will reap many benefits, starting in year one.

Here are seven steps to help you achieve a culture of philanthropy!

  1. Begin with a clear, compelling, aspirational and urgent organizational vision undergirded by shared, stated values. The mission and vision are the reasons the organization desires a culture of philanthropy. A driving institutional vision provides the urgency for change.
  2. Change requires a vision as well. Imagining the organization once it achieves the culture of philanthropy paints a picture all constituencies can embrace. What will everyone do differently with what results? Change is personal. The change vision must speak to what’s in it for the individuals who need to change. Get the word out. Spread the vision often and throughout the institution.
  3. Start with champions and modeling behavior. John Kotter, leadership guru, calls these champions a “guiding coalition.” Who are those influential people who already understand, embrace, believe in, and act on his or her roles in philanthropy and stewardship? We need them to help bring along the others. According to change expert, Jeanie Daniel Duck, “People believe because they actually see the new behavior at work and working.”
  4. Wow your team.  It is hard to make others feel great about giving and participating in philanthropy, if the proposed change agent feels beleaguered or under-appreciated. We must invest in our people first. Demonstrate great customer service internally if we want our staffs to provide it to others. Solicit your board, volunteers, and staff members in personal and inspirational ways. Provide them with impact reports, data, stories, and visuals. How can they help you achieve this with others, if they’ve not experienced it?
  5. Develop a plan. A vision without a plan is just a pipe dream. Assess your current strengths and weaknesses. Develop concrete, measurable goals for achieving a culture of philanthropy and stewardship. For example, if none of the senior administrators give, a goal might be 100% generous giving by a specific date. Strategies and tactics follow. Make sure the strategies include removing obstacles, changing systems, or structures that undermine achieving the desired culture.
  6. Institutionalize the new changes. Kotter stresses this. Document the new policies and procedures. Put philanthropy and stewardship on the institutional dashboard. Include it in performance measures. Make it a stated part of the values statement.
  7. Reward, steward and celebrate success.

The benefits of a culture of philanthropy are awesome: Faster recovery. Sustainability. Increased giving. Higher donor loyalty. Strong donor satisfaction. Viral marketing. Joe Connelly of the Wall Street Journal reported, “Donor retention is the new acquisition and customer service is the new marketing.” Achieve a culture of philanthropy and you’ll be on the cutting edge.

To request a copy of “The Common Thread”, from the April issue of CASE Currents magazine, where Karen speaks on this topic in greater detail, please visit our website.

Hello. Now What?: Smart Staff Orientation

You thought through the skills, experiences and competencies you need in your next hire. You wrote a great job description and crafted probing questions and scenarios that will help you identify the strongest candidate possible. Your ad is spot-on or you hired an outstanding firm to bring you the best pool of folks. Now you’ve chosen, made an offer and the your new staff person starts in 30 days.

For too many of us, that final decision marks the end of our hiring strategy. We either send the candidate to Human Resources to partake in the standard orientation or we plan a one day initiation – the office tour, donor files, and expectations. Sometimes, we sign the person up for a conference and use that as their orientation.

Then we wonder why things aren’t going as well as we hoped.  There is a better way to create a staff orientation focused on outcomes:

1. No candidate is perfect. We need to have a plan for shoring up whatever is missing. Start by making a list (or take the list you already created for the interview process) of all of the competencies, skills and experiences you sought. Indicate how many the new hire possesses, how many are there but not as strong as you’d like, and how many are missing. Try these guidelines for your staff orientation program. For example:

Slide1You hired this person for their strong competencies and needed experiences but there are gaps. Your plan must address the gaps.

2. Think about staff orientation as a year-long process. Twelve months from now, the new hire should know, have completed, and contributed what? Concretely identify these things. You might arrange them like this:

  • Knowledge about the institution or organization
  • Knowledge about the office – how you do things, how to use the system, knows their colleagues and internal customers and partners
  • Knowledge about the donor pool, met their top 50 and understands their philanthropic profile, relationship with the organization, motivations and so forth
  • Increased skills in (those things you wanted them to learn)
  • Increased experiences in (those experiences they didn’t have)
  • Plan for their work in the second year
  • Plans for their top 100 donors (or plans for building a qualified pool or some other identified need)

Some use a six-month approach.  The suggestions here from the Harvard Business Review are worth incorporating.

3. Now you can design the orientation program. You have your end-points laid out. How will you help your new hire get there? What does she need to do to ensure success? Who else needs to be involved?  We recommend thinking about orientation in stages.

Slide2

By month three, you know whether he is going to work out or not…  From this point, have a plan or revise your plan for moving forward, or decide that it is time to part ways and search for a new employee.  If you move forward, at month six:  conduct a formal check-in and make adjustments based on results.  Seek input on your management as well as delivering feedback!  Then at the year anniversary, ask for a self-evaluation and provide a written one.

To help you build a strong relationship with new employees, click here for a list of “Getting to Know Your New Hire Strategic Questions”.