Today’s topic of discussion addresses the value of developing an internal philanthropic culture and equipping employees to be ambassadors for our respective organizations.
In order to successfully advance our mission, we need to engage individuals by providing meaningful volunteer opportunities within our deliverable programs, expertise on our board or fundraising committee and the means to invest in our cause by donating financial and in kind gifts to our organizations.
One of the best resources our organizations possess is our employees. If employees are passionate about what they do, their enthusiasm and commitment to the work of our organizations will inspire others to get involved.
Creating a philanthropic culture is an excellent way to accomplish this. Below are some key elements to help you get started by developing and implementing a 90-day strategy to engage your employees and supporters at the time of year when your organization receives the most support and awareness. For example, if your organization sponsors kids to go to summer camp, you may be soliciting the most support from March to May. It would make sense to target a campaign during that time of year.
Give yourself 3-6 months to plan a strategy and timetable. Start with a discussion around a 90-day strategy and the elements you would like to include. Examples of the types of elements you may consider including are: open house events at your facility or at your local community association, an invitation for all staff to support the organization financially, an invitation to media to attend an event, promotional handouts, etc.
Identify 1-2 employees whom you think will be/already are good champions for your cause. Typically, this will be a person who is respected by his/her colleagues and goes the extra mile, at times beyond their job description in order to fulfill your organization’s mission. Invite the person(s) you have identified to become involved, assuring them of your continued support.
Next determine the skills that are needed on your planning committee. Examples of this include but are not limited to: designing invitations and posters, note-taking, developing meeting agendas and timelines, writing letters, media releases, phone calls, and choosing a media spokesperson. Assist your employee champion with a strategy to invite other employees to participate. This need not be a complicated process; perhaps it’s an email to all employees or you may decide to sit down with each manager and solicit their advice on a suitable employee in their area. Once all these things are in place, schedule regular meetings leading up to the event to develop a timetable with dates and accountability.
Determine how you will promote your events before and during the campaign. Elements of promoting your campaign may include internal communications (progress updates and reached milestones), social media, letters, newsletter stories, media involvement and corporate partners.
Implement your plan as the dates on your timetable come up. Your timetable should allow for preparation time leading up to events and communication materials needed, for example you want to ensure that there is enough time for copy to be written and edited. During the campaign you may consider weekly scrums for all employees to keep them updated such as running tallies of financial contributions, media coverage, etc.
Follow up and Thank you’s
Have a celebration meeting with the planning committee to say thank you and to talk about what worked and didn’t work. This will be helpful information when you plan your next campaign. Next, thank everyone else involved in a timely manner. You may also consider purchasing a Thank You Ad, sponsored by a community partner, in the local newspaper. Continue to keep your community informed throughout the year with newsletters, phone calls, social media and thank you letters.
Raising awareness for the work your organization does is vitally important if you seek to engage your Board of Directors, employees, supporters, volunteers and the general public. Creating an organizational philanthropic culture is an excellent way to start. Remember that enthusiastic vision and direction from the executive director and her leadership team is key to your campaign’s success.
Suggested Questions to start the Discussion
A movement such as developing an organizational culture of philanthropy is best realized when it is driven by an empowering leader who authorizes her employees to use their abilities to make it happen. What are some ways that an executive director can create an impassioned and inspirational environment to motivate people to come on board?
What are some of the barriers that may prevent us from doing the work that is necessary to create an organizational culture of philanthropy? Realizing that employees already have full-time jobs, how can we help them to prioritize their tasks within a manageable workload that maintains healthy balances?
The purpose of The Other Bottom Line is to facilitate discussions that will help us all to better engage with our communities. Your participation and feedback are most welcomed and valued. Please join the discussion below.