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Culture Shock

Lying in bed with the flu a few weeks ago, I was able to catch up on the reading I should be up on. Front page of Chronicle of Philanthropy on January 17, 2013. Major national study reveals that many nonprofit organizations are stuck in a vicious cycle that “threatens their ability to raise the resources they need to succeed.” Being a bit cynical about what researchers view as statistically significant, I not only read the lengthy article but I download and read the entire study title: “UNDERDEVELOPED” A National Study of Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fundraising.

As I finish the last words and graphs and conclusions, I am cynical no more. This study, I think is a watershed moment. I am not wrong. For the ensuing weeks, it’s all everyone I speak to is talking about. You need to download and read yourself:

Funded by the highly regarded Evelyn & Walter Haas Jr. Foundation and jointly produced along with CompassPoint Nonrprofit Services, this study not only reveals the tenuous nature of development professionals investment in their jobs and in the field (more than 50% want to leave their current jobs and nearly 18% want to exit the field altogether) but that less than 50% of all execs are very satisfied with the performance of those same professionals.
BUT…the chief variable that contributed to job angst and perception of poor performance is attributed to what the authors call the conditions that contribute to this vicious cycle…and that is an underdeveloped culture of philanthropy.
The definition the study used:
“Most people in the organization (across positions) act as ambassadors and engage in relationship building. Everyone promotes philanthropy and can articulate a case for giving. Fund development is viewed and valued as a mission-aligned program of the organization. Organizational systems are established to support donors. The executive director is committed and personally involved in fundraising.”
I have been trying to pour the Kool-Aid of that definition for the 18+ years of my consulting practice.
I want you to be shocked that the field in such disarray. I want you to think about how to remove barriers to building a culture of philanthropy.
But I want to know if what I am doing may be part of the problem because PLK Consulting is a learning organization. To that end I have paid to be part of a webinar on April 11, 2013 organized by the authors of the study entitled: “First Do No Harm: Are Consultants Part of the Problem?” More to you after that on-line conference. I hope that I can increase my ability to be part of the solution. In the meantime, read the study and then think about what YOU can do in you organization to build a culture of philanthropy.

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