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 has a keen interest in understanding the connection between culture and the practice of philanthropy in all cultures and particularly those in the developing world. 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 these areas.

Currently, he is Director of Philanthropy and Development for The William States Lee College of Engineering at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNC Charlotte) and is responsible for designing and implementing the strategic development goals of the college and facilitating a culture of philanthropy. Before joining the advancement staff at UNC Charlotte, he worked for 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 as the Vice President of Membership for the Charlotte Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). Mohler serves AFP at an international level as a longstanding member of the AFP International Development Committee and is on the Publishing Advisory Committee for the AFP Fund Development Series of John Wiley & Sons.

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