How involved is your CEO in your organization’s philanthropic efforts? 

That’s a question I like to ask every organization that I consult with.  It’s an important one, and typically sets the tone for the organization’s overall fundraising approach.  In many organizations, the CEO is intimately involved in the philanthropic process.  But from time to time, I’ve seen organizations where the CEO wants nothing to do with fundraising.

That’s a problem.  In order for your organization to reach its fundraising potential, your CEO must be your chief fundraiser. 

Here are three key reasons your CEO needs to lead your philanthropic process:

1. She’s the face of your organization.  In addition to being Chief Executive, she’s Chief Communicator.  Chief Facilitator.  Chief Promoter.  Chief Connector.  Community leaders, local media, and anyone with an interest in your cause will look to her to set the tone for your organization.  Because of the role she plays, she’ll have access to the highest level leadership in your community, which is critical for spreading your message and building the relationships that can lead to significant support.

2. She sets the example for your entire organization.  Staff at all levels will mimic her behavior.  If she’s apathetic toward philanthropy (or worse), your people will fall in line with similar behavior.  If, however, your CEO makes philanthropy a priority, so will members of your staff.  If you want everyone, from your administrative assistant to your program manager to embrace philanthropy, then your CEO must model an appreciation for it. 

3. Donors expect it.  This is especially true with entrepreneurially minded individual major donors and corporate funders.  It’s even becoming more common for mid-level donors to want access to your CEO as well – or at least to know that the CEO is heavily involved in the fundraising process.