The Importance of Values in Planning, Part 2

Sep 16, 2021

Have you ever watched the TV show, Schitt’s Creek? If not, it’s a hilarious take on a wealthy family who has lost everything and has to move to a motel in a small town they bought in…you guessed it, Schitt’s Creek. Our favourite character, although very hard to choose, is Moira. Why? Because she says things like the following…

“After a glut of unasinous ideas put forth today, the room is suddenly bombilating with anticipation; can you feel that?”

Bombilate means ‘buzz’ but we won’t use big words (cause I had to look that word up but I love it!).  

All that to say, you and I need to continue our talk on the importance of values in planning.

If you missed the last blog, we chatted about a lot but one key concept was about incorporating values and using those to establish your guiding principles.

Why is that important?

Because it allows you to put your values into action.

But they can also guide your fundraising program, informing what you do, with whom, and how.

Here is the thing: if it’s going to succeed, you can’t simply work hard at fundraising in a silo. You must also work hard at creating the right environment or eco-system or what I like to call the enabling ecology – for fundraising to thrive.

I’ve created what I call Fundraising’s Enabling Ecology Framework and it suggests that…

the sustainability of your fundraising program depends on the strength, interconnectedness and balance of each of the framework’s four elements:

>>>strategies, infrastructure, culture and values.

By getting all four of these in balance, you will create the enabling ecology to allow fundraising to succeed.

You must purposefully plan for each.

And this is not something only the fundraising team – whether it’s a team of 1 or many – can do on their own.

By definition, this framework requires the full involvement of your organization so you can ultimately raise more money.

So, let’s break down the framework: The strategies and infrastructure are like the mechanics of fundraising.

  • Strategies include things like direct mail, events, foundation grants, corporate support, bequests. You know, common fundraising practices.
  • Infrastructure includes things like thanking your donors; communications in support of fundraising, risk management, research, volunteer management, and really good database management (for accurate donor info, meaningful analysis, and pulling the right lists).

Spending too much time on either of them though will result in less money in the long run.

If you only solicit funds, you won't have the pieces in place to thank donors, report back, be accountable, et cetera. Spend too much time on infrastructure and you'll never get around to asking for money.

*Alert - Real-life example is next*

Early in my career, I once created the most awesome policies and marketing material and plans for a bequest program.

But I never actually spoke to anyone about considering leaving a gift in their will. I never sent out a letter to anyone asking them to think about it.

But dang, I had a lot of good material for the next person who took over from me.

Here’s the thing: I was early in my career. I didn’t really know what to do, how to reach out to people to engage them.

So, I did what I knew how to do: I created policies and plans and marketing material.

I really wish I had had a mentor or coach to sit me down and help me figure out the next steps so that I could actually implement the program. Help me get out of the theory and the busy-ness of creating all of this supporting material…

…and just talk to people.

I was also young and didn’t feel like I had a lot of credibility talking to older people about their wills – which inherently is talking to them about the prospect of death, when you think about it. I’ve learned lots since then and if I could go back in time and be my mentor to my younger self, we could create a kick-ass bequest program for that organization. They’d still be generating gifts from what we would have put together 25 years ago.

So yes, it’s a balancing act, but you need to be doing both.

If the strategies and infrastructure are like the mechanics of fundraising, then culture and principles are like the heart and soul.

  • The culture of philanthropy refers to the organizational attitude towards philanthropy.

>>>Why is this so important? Because philanthropy isn’t just about revenue. It's part of the mission of your organization. And if It’s an important part of your mission, you want to make sure your organizational culture supports it.

  • Guiding principles stem from your organizational values - and you want to make sure they are reflected in your fundraising program.

 >>>They can then guide your fundraising strategies, inform what you do, with whom and how. They can offer guidance when you need to make difficult decisions.

Starting with values requires a rethink about how we usually do fundraising planning.

If you’re not at a place where you are ready to deconstruct your organizational values, start with strategies and infrastructure. That’s what I’ve been doing my entire career.

But there is more that can be accomplished if we can create the enabling ecology to help fundraising thrive. If we can ground our fundraising work in values. And remember in the last blog where we spoke about your colleagues having the ick factor when talking about fundraising? Well…this may help them get over it.

You know, we feel so strongly about getting your foundation right that we’re offering a free webinar, The 5 Steps to Developing Your Fundraising Plan. And it’s not pre-recorded, it’s live. And we would love to see you there.

As fundraisers, you need help and we’re here to help you.

So, if you want to raise more money, join us.

 Yours in kick-a** fundraising,

Cathy and the rest of the gang at The Fundraising Lab

P.S. In the words of Moira, we’re not prestidigitators. We’re the real deal. Check us out.


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