Ten ways to tell whether your organization has a philanthropic culture

publication date: Sep 19, 2016

“Philanthropic culture” seems to be the mantra for successful fundraising. We hear that our charities need it to succeed at fundraising in the long term. We hear that we have to build it if we don’t already have it. Sometimes we hear that leaders, managers and program staff care about everything except a philanthropic culture. But seldom do we hear, in concrete, practical terms, what a philanthropic culture looks like.

University fundraisers Andrea Morris and Kelly Morris know what it’s like to influence and convert non-fundraisers to a philanthropic culture. They prepared a full chapter on the topic for Excellence in Fundraising in Canada, Volume Two, which is published by Civil Sector Press. In it they cite these top 10 indicators of a philanthropic culture from The Fundraising Beat by Canadian thought leader and former AFP chair Andrea McManus:

  1. Your board and leadership can both pronounce and spell the word philanthropy.
  2. When someone calls to make a donation the receptionist knows what to do.
  3. Accountability is a word your organization lives by, not pays lip service to.
  4. You recognize that your primary role is not fundraising – it is building the philanthropic culture in your organization so that philanthropic relationships can survive and thrive.
  5. Your organizational leadership understands and acknowledges the difference between philanthropy, development and fundraising.
  6. You have a Statement of Philanthropic Values. Engage everyone to do this.
  7. Development is a core function that is long term, strategic and responsive to community needs.
  8. Fundraising is everyone’s job. Everyone has a role to play – ambassador, enthusiastic communicator, connector, cultivator, solicitor and steward.
  9. 100% of your Board makes philanthropic gifts to your organization based on their ability to give. Your board will then demonstrate its ownership of fundraising.
  10. Donors are viewed as stakeholders in your organization. They are investors who care about what you do.
More information on Excellence in Fundraising in Canada, Volume Two can be found here.


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