Donor-Centered Fundraising Starts with a Culture of Philanthropy: Six Questions to Test Your Readiness

A culture of philanthropy in a nonprofit organization is where everyone—board, staff, and senior leadership—plays a role in fundraising. It should be a culture in which fundraising is a valued and mission-aligned component of everything the organization does.  

Healthcare organizations that adopt a culture of philanthropy see fundraising less as a transactional tactic and more as a way of operating—one that reflects the definition of philanthropy: A love of humankind and a voluntary joining of resources and action for the public good. [1]

“…a culture of philanthropy can help increase giving levels and donor retention; strengthen trust, cooperation, and engagement among board and staff members; and align mission and program goals more seamlessly with revenue generation.” [2]

Six Guiding Questions 

As you begin to build a Culture of Philanthropy at your organization, here are some questions to help guide the process.

  1. Does your leadership “get it”?
    Proactive CEOs are realizing just how valuable philanthropic support is to the sustainability of their hospital. Above all, your culture of philanthropy will only succeed if your leadership must be “an instigator, a champion, and a role model to bring fundraising into the heart of the organization and keep it there.” [3]
  2. Can your leadership get your board to be champions of a culture of philanthropy?
    Boards need to take responsibility for leading and modeling a culture of philanthropy in the organizations they govern. If the board doesn’t care or “get it”, then the burden will rest solely on the staff–and your efforts will fail.
  3. Can your physicians and caregivers be champions of philanthropy also?
    Physicians and caregivers have unique and special opportunities to talk to patients about how philanthropic support sustains their work. Since they’re the ones that grateful patients often volunteer to support as an expression of gratitude, caregivers should be able to say “you’re welcome” and to talk about ways to give.
  4. Is your mission clear and easy to talk about?
    Everyone in the organization should be able to talk about it compellingly to potential donors and others involved in your work.  
  5. Does everyone on the team understand the value of philanthropy?  Do you give them the chance to participate in development activities and even employee giving?
    Staff needs to be able to see how fundraising “fits” with the organization and how fundraising is essential and noble work.
  6. Can you develop policies, procedures, and measurable goals to make them concrete?
    Your staff and the board need a formal blueprint, designed with measurable goals to include in your performance metrics, like achieving 100% giving by a specific date.  

Build a Strong Culture of Philanthropy!

Start celebrating fundraising, training your team to be fundraising ambassadors, and communicating the importance of fundraising to your entire network.  Doing so will allow you to raise more money than ever before – and do it in a sustainable and scalable way.


[1] Beyond Fundraising: What Does It Mean To Build A Culture Of Philanthropy?, C.Gibson, Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund

[2] Advancing philanthropy, P. LaGasse[3] Underdeveloped, 2013 Survey and study by CompassPoint and the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund

Additional Resources

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