I think we need to redefine fundraising if we want to create an internal culture that will support philanthropy.

Why? Because many people are uncomfortable with the idea of “fundraising.”

When you redefine “fundraising” into other words like Friendraising, Engagement, Philanthropy — then new pathways seem possible!

Here are five steps to get board members and colleagues to buy in, support fundraising, and even help out.

No kidding!

1. It’s an attitude thing.

People inside your organization probably have weird attitudes about fundraising.

Your leaders and/or colleagues are probably thinking that fundraising is nothing but “asking for money.”

And if they think this, then they see fundraising as distasteful and yucky – and they don’t want to get involved.

They may think if they get involved in fundraising, then you’ll be asking them to call people and ask for money.

And that’s the last thing they ever want to do!

So, you are dealing with an attitude thing – people’s thoughts and their feelings.

And if you want to create change – remember you have to meet people where they are, and slowly start to land different ideas in their heads. 

2. Redefine Fundraising into something broader and bigger called Philanthropy.

The idea of “fundraising” carries with it ideas like sales, money, asking, soliciting. It reminds people about “hitting people up.”

“Fundraising” can put people off. They stay away.

The idea of “philanthropy” feels grand and lovely. It carries with it a sense of nobility – of helping your fellow man.

“Philanthropy” can attract people. They want to get involved.

If you redefine fundraising into the more lofty concept of philanthropy – you open people to to new possibilities.

Jeanne Tedrow, CEO and Founder of Passage Home in Raleigh, told me recently,

“Philanthropy” just feels different when you are talking to your board and volunteers – they are not so scared to get involved!” 

3. Redefine Fundraising by focusing everybody on thanking your lovely donors.

Thanking donors should be an easy job. And it’s the right thing to do.

Everybody in your organization just might embrace creative ways to thank your donors. This is the fun stuff if you ask me!

When you make it about honoring the awesome people who make your work possible – then it’s not about “fundraising.”

Board members often really enjoy saying thank you. It’s the perfect place to get them started in fundraising. Try a thankathon!

Focus your board members on thanking and suddenly you just might have enthusiastic board members on the fundraising train.)

Sue Acree of Literacy Connections summed this up during our INSIDERS webinar this week:

“Focus on the donors and the money will follow. “

4. Focus everybody on engaging your lovely donors.

Just think how much fun you could have if you got the entire organization actively engaging with your donors!

How can you engage donors with your mission? Give them tours. Invite them to panel discussions.

Ask them to volunteer. Ask them what they think!

Share stories about your organization’s work. Donors love to hear more about how they are making a difference through YOU.

Program people often really enjoy talking to donors about their work out in the field. (They often have the best stories anyway.)

As Meg Revelle from Arts Together said during our INSIDERS webinar this week:

At our board meeting, we set up wall of “sticky note ideas” outlining specific ways we could help engage donors. Each Board member left with at least one sticky – they chose what excited them and they want to do – and it was such fun!”

5. Focusing Everybody on Friendmaking.

Here’s an idea that helps people really “get” the true essence of fundraising: Focus on making FRIENDS for the cause.

What if you told everyone in your organization that we were going to tackle friendraising in your community?

But, you say, How would that help fundraising?

You really do want as many die-hard supporters as you can possibly get, don’t you?

And if you have die-hard, passionate supporters, what will they do for you?

They’ll do whatever they can for you. They’ll contribute money when they can.

Somehow when you focus your people on friend-making, their fears about “money” and “asking” start to fade.

Board members in particular often find inspiration in this idea – and it ignites new energy.

Bottom Line:

If you want to create a culture of philanthropy at your organization, start here.

It’s a kinder, gentler, more fun and much more successful way to gain sustainable support from your donors.

As Suzie Acree said, “This is changing my thinking….I am gaining a new perspective on donors that makes it more fun for not only me but my staff and Board!”