Does the same U.S.-style process work for an Australian NGO launching its first capital campaign? Can an organization in Sri Lanka that receives significant U.S.-based funding also raise major gifts in country? When U.S.-based organizations want to grow global support, do they use the same methods as they do with U.S. donors?
Our experience working with international NGOs, domestic organizations fundraising for global causes, and grassroots start-ups shows that the steps we take to build a successful resource development program can vary from country to country. Between cultural differences and varying political support and landscapes, we have found some nonprofit best practices require careful, nuanced adjustments, while others apply universally.
In the first blog post of this series, “Lessons from Global Philanthropy,” we’ll be sharing fundamental truths we have learned from our work in global philanthropy that can improve your organization, no matter the shape, size or location.
Charity vs. Philanthropy
Many organizations worldwide, even big-name international NGOs, are still chasing charity as opposed to focusing their efforts on building a culture of philanthropy. As a result, they’re leaving money on the table.
What’s the difference between charity and philanthropy, you might ask? The graphic below breaks down the key contrasts.
There is most certainly a need, time and place for charity-based work. For example, disaster relief requires fast emergency funding, and because human nature guides us to provide immediate relief to suffering, encouraging mass participation can help raise funds quickly.
But today’s donors are looking to be part of long-term solutions to systematic problems instead of contributing to short-term patches. They want to invest in organizations with proven results working toward exciting visions for a better future.
Across the globe, we have found consistent characteristics of all organizations that have successfully built upon charity-focused fundraising to grow a strong culture of philanthropy, work that invites significant gifts.
The Organization Has a Strong Program Brand and Philanthropic Brand
An organization’s program brand must be impeccable in that the programs they offer can show proven, measurable results. These programs must also work toward accomplishing a long-term solution to a problem and an inspirational vision of a better community, society, or world.
The philanthropic brand needs to be equally strong. For example, suppose an organization has primarily relied on direct response fundraising efforts and is now looking to invite major investments. They will likely need to rebrand their philanthropic program so that a major donor will look at the organization and say, “That is an institution I can give a $10 million gift to, and I know what it will be used for and that it will be used wisely.”
If your organization is in need of a philanthropic rebrand, it should start internally. Ensure that everyone within the organization understands the mission – the intended outcomes and impact – and what is needed to accelerate the mission. All staff, board members, and volunteers should be able to speak to what the organization would do with a significant gift and how that gift would move the needle in your work. This network, along with a strategically revised case for support, will help you communicate your strengthened philanthropic brand.
The Organization’s Leadership Values Building Relationships with Donors
Brochures and postcards aren’t raising major and mega gifts; people are. This is true for even the most prominent institutions across the world – no matter the scale of their direct response fundraising initiatives, etc. The organizations receiving significant gifts from major and mega donors have leadership dedicated to investing in relationship-building with past donors and donor prospects, which often requires more staff, time devoted to training volunteers, and an increased budget.
The Organization’s Volunteers Are Supported and Engaged and, in turn, Accelerate Fundraising
Trust is central to fundraising, especially major and mega gifts. Trained, supported and engaged volunteers who are willing to share why they support an organization are one of the fastest ways to validate the trustworthiness of an organization. Volunteers can also open a door that is otherwise closed to an organization and its staff, set an example and inspire higher levels of giving, and express gratitude to others for joining in an important mission.
Throughout the world, an organization’s volunteer base and people who have a relationship with the organization matter. Who walks in the door with you or makes the introduction matters and can significantly accelerate your major gift fundraising.
If you’re looking to enhance your fundraising or resource development efforts, no matter your situation or location, we would love to learn more about your organization and challenges. We will always make ourselves available as a resource to you as you advance your mission and philanthropy. If you don’t already have a direct contact at Carter, please email email@example.com, and we’ll put you in touch with a senior-level consultant specific to your needs.
About the Authors
Bob Carter, CFRE – Chairman
Bob Carter, CFRE, is one of the world’s most respected, experienced and recognized experts in institutional strategy and philanthropy. During the past four decades, Bob has strengthened a variety of organizations throughout the world by helping them overcome challenges and capitalize on opportunities to be successful. Bob is currently serving as a member of the Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, where he is a founding board member, and he is Chair Emeritus of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) International Board of Directors. Learn more about Bob here.
Kristina Carlson, CFRE – Managing Director - Global Philanthropy
For more than 30 years, Kristina Carlson, CFRE, has guided nonprofit institutions across the globe in their efforts to conduct transformational campaigns, secure up to eight-figure major gifts and bravely make the changes needed to make a significant impact. She is a proven leader, entrepreneur, author of the best-selling “Essential Principles for Fundraising Success,” and in-demand speaker at national and international conferences and workshops. Prior to joining Carter, Kristina served as President of Ketchum and founder and President of FundraisingINFO.com. Learn more about Kristina here.
When it comes to transformational change, nonprofits are experts at knowing what they need to achieve but don’t always have the tools they need to get there. Carter makes the journey easier. Co-founded by Bob Carter and Steve Higgins in 2011, Carter gathered a select team of the nation’s most respected nonprofit professionals working to advance philanthropy worldwide in the areas of fundraising, governance and organizational planning. Each Carter consultant brings decades of executive-level development experience to serve as an extension of your team and help you maximize your organization’s potential and better serve your cause. For more information, visit www.carter.global.