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    Speaker Blog: Embracing Change to Strengthen Your Culture of Philanthropy

    Here’s a Fundraising Day sneak peek from one of our speakers and special guest bloggers, Juniper Locilento, CFRE. Locilento is leading the session Y-07: Start from Where You’re At: a Practical Guide to Strengthening Your Culture of Philanthropy at #FD17Ideas on June 8th – register today! Follow Juniper on Twitter @JBerri.

    You’re likely reading this because your job involves raising money. And perhaps your job involves raising more money this year than last year.

    Well, read on if you believe that your organization needs a stronger culture of philanthropy in order to make that happen. While this is obviously not a new topic, it’s one that remains top of mind for many fundraisers because while we understand this inherently, we often struggle to move the needle in our organizations.

    I believe the key word in culture of philanthropy is culture and I have been thinking about how we go about making cultural change in our organizations in order to support philanthropic growth. In other words, change management applied to how our organizations value philanthropy and where it sits in relation to other priorities.

    It’s a myth that change initiatives lead to change, because somewhere between 50% and 70% of change initiatives fail. New practises are actually the consequences of the change, not the change itself. So we have to go deeper.


    Finding the Root of the Issue

    You can’t solve a problem without addressing the thinking that produced that problem in the first place, so you need to start by understanding where those cultural norms about fundraising and philanthropy came from. You need to dig up the dandelion root and really examine it, not just snap off the head.

    This ties to values – what our organizations stand for and the opportunities we create for donors to make change in the world through our work. As the legendary Kay Sprinkel Grace says: “All philanthropy is based in values. Development of relationships is the process of uncovering shared values. Fundraising offers people opportunities to act on their values.” So, what does your organization value? What do your donors value? Finding the root issues and enhancing the synergy between values are keys to better fundraising results.


    Why Now?

    Once you’ve dug in to identify what got your organization to where it is today, you need to identify the “burning platform”. As humans, we resist change even when we understand the consequences, so we need to be razor sharp on this. Why do things need to change now? What will happen if things don’t change?


    The Destination Postcard

    It’s also really important to identify vision or the destination, and here’s where those books and articles can help: they paint a picture of what a thriving culture of philanthropy might look like, from strong Board giving to fundraising being a strategic priority within the organization to donors being treated with love and respect.


    A Roadmap

    Do you want to improve what you are currently doing (developmental change)? Are you trying to replace the status quo with a new and clearly defined destination (transitional change)? Or is transformational change needed – a future state so different that you don’t even know what it looks like when you start? Once you understand the root of the issue, have identified the reasons that things need to change and have articulated a future vision, you can start to build a roadmap for how you might get there. (Hint: it’s possible, but it will take longer than you think. And there will be hand-wringing).


    The Bottom Line

    Culture can only be changed by the people in it – as liaisons between our organization and our donors, fundraisers have an important opportunity to be catalysts for that change.


    AFP Fundraising Day Session Description:

    Fear of fundraising remains pervasive outside of our profession – which can make our jobs a lot more challenging. But as fundraisers, we know that the relationship between a strong culture of philanthropy and successful fundraising is a given. So how can we close the gap? Using cases that span organizational size and sector, we’ll explore the nature of cultural change and what you can do today to move philanthropy closer to the centre of your organization.



    Juniper Locilento, CFRE
    Director of Annual Giving, Operations & Strategy
    YMCA of Greater Toronto

    Juniper Locilento, CFRE is driven to advance philanthropy as a means to create change. She has worked alongside social profit change makers for more than a dozen years, both as a fundraising practitioner in arts & culture and as a philanthropic consultant with KCI (Ketchum Canada Inc.). She is currently Director of Annual Giving, Operations & Strategy at the YMCA of Greater Toronto.

    A passionate teacher and learner, Juniper is a student in the Master of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership program at Carleton University. She also holds a B.A. and a Diploma in Operatic Performance from the University of Toronto and a postgraduate certificate in Arts Administration from Humber College. Juniper studied Organizational Development and Change Management at York University’s Schulich Executive Education Centre. Follow Juniper on Twitter @JBerri