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The Importance of Values in Planning

Sep 09, 2021

Hey there,

I think we need a bit of a shift in thinking about fundraising programs. And we want to talk about ALL of the elements that you need to be aware of including some we don’t necessarily spend much time talking about.

And I’m going to say something that provokes a strong reaction from non-fundraisers:

Fundraising is a critical part of the mission of your organization.

Let’s repeat it for the people in the back…

Fundraising is a critical part of the mission of your organization.

Got it?

Now for something that won’t provoke a strong reaction:

Operating from a place of values is important and foundational for many in the charitable sector.

One might think these two things are unrelated. But I see this interesting dynamic that connects them…

Many people in organizations resist fundraising because they believe that fundraising…and their organizational values…are mutually exclusive.

So, here’s a thought…why not make sure your fundraising program is based on your organizational values?

Sounds pretty simple, yes? And maybe it can be. But right now, it’s a big challenge for many organizations.

I see a big disconnect between fundraising and the missions they are responsible for supporting. While fundraising is about raising money, it’s also a critical part of the mission of your organization.

No money? No mission.

It’s that simple.

So why do some people in organizations believe raising funds to support the mission is NOT part of the mission?

I think it comes down to values.

There is a belief that somehow fundraising doesn’t operate with integrity…

…that it’s smarmy. Kind of icky.

Now, I don’t know if there is research to support this, but I can tell you that after working with hundreds of social change organizations for over 30 years, I see this dynamic so often.

This story kind of sums up the dynamic: I once had a friend/non-fundraising colleague say to me, “You shouldn’t call yourself a fundraiser. People who work in big hospital foundations and universities are fundraisers. You’re different. You help connect donors to important community-based work.”

If they are doing their job well…that's what all fundraisers do – even if they work for bigger organizations. They are connecting people to causes they care about.

Fundraising, when done well:

  • Engages people to participate in something bigger than themselves
  • Gives them the opportunity to be part of a solution
  • Can provide a sense of belonging and community
  • And yes, it delivers money to support your important mission

However, too often, fundraising is seen as distinct from delivering on the mission.

But fundraising cuts horizontally across an organization, touching virtually every aspect of its work, from processes to people.

When done well, it is integrated into your mission...And if it’s not yet integrated into your mission, don’t fret.

Consider it an opportunity.

I think we need to look at how we do our fundraising planning. And turn it on its head. 

Maybe... we need to start with values.

So what does this mean?

It means a change in how fundraising planning is practiced. Too often we ask fundraisers to create a fundraising plan in isolation.

Go away and create the plan and come back and just show us how you’re going to raise money,” is how we’ve traditionally done it.

If we start with values, that means the entire organization has to be part of the initial planning phase. Because you as a fundraiser or fundraising team, can’t prescribe the organization’s values.

That’s an organizational exercise.

If your organization already has its values stated, excellent. The next step then is to translate them into guiding principles.

Again, this is not something you can do alone. That’s an organization-wide exercise.

Because while values help organizations identify what is important to the work they do and the people they work with, principles are the how that reflects these values.

Tune in next week as we share Part II of the topic: The Importance of Values in Planning.

Yours 'til the cows come home,

Cathy and the team at Fundraising Lab


P.S. We have a free webinar coming up that speaks to values and covers the 5 Steps to Developing your Fundraising Plan. Click here to sign up today. 


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