Defining Culture

What defines the culture of an institution? 

The level of sophistication in which it has defined the advancement function.

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Any institution that is looking for a star, or someone to solve all of their problems, will suffer from enormous and unrealistic expectations.  Advancement, the scene-setter for development, fundraising, and donor care entails a host of short term, mid-term, and long-term strategies by which an institution positions itself as an ever-stronger competitor for private support.

Assessing Readiness must the primary and objective concern- ahead of deploying any fundraising action.  Failure to do so will likely result in continued short-term, “Dollars Up, Donors Down” campaigns, which propose a legitimate threat to institutional well-being in this current competitive philanthropic climate.  Sowing the right seeds, across multiple donor platforms, with necessary insight into timing and expected duration will open doors to healthy short, medium, and long term programs.  When a new president or president with new aspirations makes a proper assessment before charging ahead, the intended outcomes become surprisingly predictable and more certain.

So, What To Do? 

Spend the time to define Who You Are and Where You Want to Go.  Recognize the holes in your strategy and if needed, employ a professional approach when defining your culture.  And Introduce Meaning & Community into you 1:1 discussions with alumni and prospects:

  1. Explain what distinguishes and differentiates your institution.
  2. Articulate how these unique features can be amplified with sufficient funding, delivering more value to the institution.
  3. Lend credibility by introducing a series of objective-specific projects, detailing exactly how, when, and to whom value will be delivered.
  4. Demonstrate with consistency how their institution is a cause-oriented, service driven culture.