Understanding Context for a Philanthropic Plan

The opening segment of a philanthropic plan helps provide context that informs latter sections. If you are reviewing and revising your strategic plan on a three-year cycle, the context segment should serve as a general reference and typically only needs to be revised if the board decides to change the organizational mission or if historical changes have occurred that may affect the philanthropic landscape.

The “organizational context” section should include the organizational mission, vision, history, and values. These areas should be self-explanatory. A good resource for examples can be found in “Strategic fund development: Building profitable relationships that last”  by Simone P. Joyaux (2001). See the appendices (A through D) for chapter 6. These begin on page 285. I highly recommend purchasing this book, but you can also find the relevant material through Google Books (http://bit.ly/JoyauxSFD). In her book Joyaux uses mission and vision consistently, but uses an assortment of alternate headings for the remaining context section. These section headings include both overview and assumptions.

The context segment should be concise and should not go so far as a fundraising resource audit or SWOT analysis. These areas will be covered in the next segment highlighting the philanthropic environment effecting the organization’s development efforts.

Next: Philanthropic Environment

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About Benjamin Mohler

Benjamin Mohler, CFRE has a keen interest in understanding the connection between culture and the practice of philanthropy. His experiences working with international nonprofit organizations, extensive international travel, together with his graduate work at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota and leadership roles with local nonprofits combine to produce his expertise in this area. He’s also a big baseball fan.

Mohler is the Assistant Vice President for Major and Planned Gifts at Eastern Kentucky University. Prior to his current role, he held key roles with The William States Lee College of Engineering at UNC Charlotte, Cedarville University, and The Cockrell School of Engineering at the University of Texas at Austin. He is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) and serves AFP at an international level, including his current role chairing the publishing committee for the AFP Fund Development Series.

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