It’s a nearly universal truth among gift officers that expanding our portfolio is a critical — and often challenging — part of our roles. Volunteers who are passionate about philanthropy can be incredibly impactful partners in this work. But despite this clear potential, cultivating truly effective philanthropic champions often gets lost in our day-to-day shuffle.

Today, let’s take some time to reflect and recommit to identifying and cultivating philanthropic champions with clear next steps — because the potential is endless and our programs deserve it!

Step 1: Identify potential philanthropic champions

Seek out champions with a diverse range of experiences and backgrounds, and who have three things in common:

  • True connection to the cause
  • Deep belief in our institution and its ability to impact the cause
  • Commitment to the power of giving

Step 2: Develop your champions

To strengthen their connection and effectiveness, invest in three areas:

  • Relationships: These individuals should have strong relationships with multiple representatives of your institution, spanning the advancement team, program staff/faculty/physicians, and institutional leadership.
  • Deep knowledge: A true champion is in open and honest dialogue with the institution about its challenges and opportunities, and about their own role.
  • Meaningful gift opportunities: Champions should be giving in deeply meaningful ways that reflect a stretch commitment as defined by their own circumstances.

Step 3: Activate champions

Work with your champions to identify opportunities to expand the pool of prospective donors, including:

  • Hosting salon events, inviting their peers to learn more about your institution
  • Participating in peer screenings
  • Hosting regional events
  • Being a social media champion
  • Demonstrating gratitude to existing donors through phone calls, emails, or note cards
  • Opening doors at their workplace (to corporate giving, alumni networks, and more)

Step 4: Support and celebrate

Like every strong partnership, this one requires mutual support, lots of communication, and celebrating wins. Make this role fun and rewarding, and enjoy the relationships that result!

Consider your own priorities and goals, and the role the champion model can play in moving those forward. Whether you’re seeking to put a fundraising project “over the top,” brainstorm a new project, introduce a new leader, or any other strategy, strong champions can help achieve those goals while building a stronger portfolio. What steps can you take today to build and implement a stronger philanthropic champion model?

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