Create a Thriving Philanthropic Culture



October 2014 • Volume XXII, No. 10

To attract more support, create a thriving philanthropic culture that includes everyone in your organization in your fundraising efforts. That way, “You’re a team instead of the lone development officer marching up a hill, and no one’s charging behind you,” says Sharon J. Danosky, president, Danosky & Associates (Sherman, CT). Enlist the support of board members, employees, volunteers and donors, she says.

Rather than memorizing elevator pitches or talking about a myriad of your nonprofit’s programs and services, board members “should talk about the people you’re helping and how you’re improving the lives around you.” Leverage volunteers by inviting them along to meetings with donors, who will relish the volunteers’ stories and will be impressed they’re willing to volunteer their time to your cause. Don’t forget to ask donors for help on these visits too.

Most of all, don’t overlook fellow employees, Danosky says.

“The development office has to be integrated in the organizational culture,” she says. Using program staff to tell donors the nonprofit’s story can be highly effective, because employees have an intimate understanding of the good your organization’s doing. Bring them to donor meetings or have them draft appeal letters.

To get cooperation from colleagues, show interest in what they’re doing, Danosky says. And don’t forget to reward their help, for example with lunches, recognition certificates or a mention to management.

“When you do this with staff, they get excited and get involved and become very passionate about the opportunity to do more for the organization,” Danosky says. “You’ve got to be sure to respect them and recognize them so they’re not feeling you’re using them to do your job.”

One particularly effective way to generate enthusiasm among employees, according to Danosky: employee giving campaigns whereby employees set up and control programs, much as board members do for the broader organization. Employees raise money from colleagues for special projects their organization can’t undertake.

These campaigns help employees become “incredible allies of the development office,” Danosky says. “They create a philanthropic culture and also are a good measurement tool when you start seeing how much the employees are raising for their fund every single year, because it will start to go up exponentially. That’s one of the strongest ways of creating a philanthropic culture, because the employees are actually raising the money, and they’re also allocating and giving the money away, so they understand the entire process and how it  works.”

Source: Sharon J. Danosky, President, Danosky & Associates, Sherman, CT. Phone (860) 799-6330. E-mail: sharon@danosky. com. Website: