Building a Culture of Philanthropy

A culture of philanthropy means that everyone in the organization embraces a patient-centered and donor-centered environment. Everyone understands that charity and fundraising are critical to organizational health and that each individual has a role in the process. Everyone is an ambassador for the organization’s service, philanthropy, and fund development: they do their job well, understand how various positions create one integrated system, and treat all patients with care and respect.

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See how other organizations are successfully enhancing their culture of philanthropy to engage all stakeholders, improve donor retention, and increase donations.

Organization Culture

An organization’s culture dramatically affects its effectiveness because culture is pervasive, touching all areas, including fund development. Corporate culture refers to the personality of an organization and the way your employees interact and behave, and it is transmitted from one individual to another. The most significant contributor to an employee’s commitment to their employer is how well the individual fits within its culture and how closely they share its values.

Philanthropic Culture

Philanthropic culture is a subset of the organizational or corporate culture. It refers to your organization’s attitude toward philanthropy and fundraising. An essential part of your organizational culture must include philanthropy as a charitable organization or an institution funded by a charitable organization. Why is it important? Because philanthropy is part of the mission of the organization. Organizations that operate with a culture of philanthropy understand three things:

  1. The value of the organizational culture
  2. The importance of philanthropy
  3. The inextricable link between philanthropy and fund development 
 

They also understand that a culture of philanthropy belongs to every individual, every department, and all volunteers in the organization.

A Culture of Philanthropy

Fostering a culture of philanthropy within a healthcare system entails a working partnership with leadership and operations to connect charity’s impact to the institution’s mission and vision goals. It incorporates two distinct parts. The first stipulates that everyone in the hospital knows how to respond and who to reach out to if a patient indicates an interest in “giving back.” This requires a high level of trust between the hospital staff and the foundation staff. The second part is that every hospital staff member needs to acknowledge that they are working for a non-profit organization, where philanthropy makes a difference in the service and experience of patients.

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So, how do you develop a culture of philanthropy in your healthcare organization?

First, create a positive environment for physician and nurse engagement. They interact with patients daily and can provide insight into a patient’s propensity and capacity to give, providing more focus to the foundation’s fundraising efforts. 

Developing a community of trust is vital to ensure referrals are made. Implement a role for a clinical liaison (i.e., retired or former physicians, clinicians, or hospital administrators) within the foundation to build clinical solid staff engagement. 

Cultivate relationships with clinical staff in the same way you develop relationships with donor prospects. “It is a well-known reality that was building relationships with prospective donors greatly increases their likelihood of making a gift,” and the same reality holds true with employees. Maintain a foundation presence at the grassroots level with a foundation employee’s office located near or within the clinical office space.

Patients are more likely to develop trusting relationships with their physicians than with any other staff. They are also more likely to view the physician as highly credible. Physicians are healthcare’s front line. Their work involves commitment and dedication to an institution’s mission and its patients. They truly understand how philanthropic investment can change lives, and they can communicate that authentically. Training physicians on how to respond and who to reach out to if a patient indicates a desire to “give back” is key to successfully building physician involvement, as is a training of all staff. Patient-physician relationships are a fundamental aspect of identifying potential grateful patients and harnessing their giving potential. Training programs should include these fundamentals:

  1. Educate staff on the fundraising process – many may not be aware of the role of philanthropy, the direct impact of donations, and the methods used to raise funds.
  2. Educate clinical staff on identifying potential donors, including expression of appreciation, interest in volunteering opportunities, and a desire to give back.
  3. Provide resources to use when soliciting potential donors, such as presentations, reports, and other marketing materials.
  4. Provide varied methods of reaching out and communicating to patients.
  5. Provide step-by-step guidance on how to participate in cultivation and solicitation activities.
  6. Allow patients to donate on behalf of their caregiver. This greatly aids in the development of a positive environment for staff engagement to receive institutional recognition for providing quality care to their patients.

Employee Giving

Increasingly, people want to work for organizations with a solid commitment to social responsibility. When employees realize they are working for an organization with a broader mission to help the community at large, it strengthens their commitment to that organization and nurtures feelings of pride and loyalty.

Corporate fundraising gives employees an efficient and tangible way to participate in an organization’s charitable activities. It can unite employees’ creativity, passion, and generosity in the pursuit of a collective goal.

So what inspires employees and motivates them to give?

  1. Communication (and thanks) are crucial. An effective communications plan is vital to a campaign’s success and requires compelling storytelling about the cause. If you are asking people to take action, think about their journey. The focus should always be on the donor (employee). Make things easy and exciting for your employees. And ALWAYS take time to say thanks. Recognizing employee donations needs to be as a gift appropriate and prominent as non-employee donor recognition.
  2. Celebrate and report back. Reporting on progress and celebrating the successes of your campaign are vital to keeping employees engaged. Illustrating the campaign’s impact lets people share in the collective achievement and see the difference they have helped to make. Identifying and sharing stories of individual and team initiatives helps to inspire others and makes the whole campaign more tangible. Ensure you can track employee donation activity and collect the data you need to find and tell these stories.
  3. Create friendly competition. Injecting friendly competition into your campaign strategy will make it more exciting for employees and ultimately lead to more donations. Encouraging employees to fundraise is one of the most effective ways organizations can multiply their impact.
  4. Offer incentives. Employees are more likely to give and more likely to provide more with a company incentive. Whether this is matching donations or offering exclusive goods or experiences using any marketing and sponsorship connections you have, these incentives will also engage an audience of employees who may not usually have given.
  5. Think local. Whether their gift is time or money, people like to give and feel more connected to a cause close to home. A strategic campaign that is aligned with the organization’s goals is undoubtedly an effective tool for engagement.

Maintaining a culture of philanthropy means that everyone in the organization embraces a patient-centered and donor-centered environment. Everyone understands that charity and fundraising are critical to organizational health and that each individual has a role in the process. Everyone is an ambassador for the organization’s service, philanthropy, and fund development: they do their job well, understand how various positions create one integrated system, and treat all patients with care and respect.

Studies show that employee engagement can help:

  1. Improve employee morale and productivity.
  2. Motivate and inspire employees.
  3. Increase employee retention rates.
  4. Support professional development and help attract high-quality employees.

When employees are engaged, they are not there for the money but instead they care. What a win-win situation for both the employer and the employee!

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