Roles & Responsibilities of the VP of Philanthropy

Lori J. Counts, CFRE, Accordant Philanthropy.

The VP of Philanthropy’s overarching responsibility is to promote philanthropic investment by donor partners in the health care organization in order to advance the mission. However, the role encompasses far more. Together with the foundation board and health care CEO, this individual works with internal and external constituencies to build a culture of philanthropy that goes beyond transactional fundraising to build lasting, fruitful relationships rooted in a shared vision. Like an orchestra conductor, the VP of Philanthropy brings together many diverse talents and resources in a harmonious way that aligns philanthropy with the health care organization strategy.

Working closely with the foundation board, the VP of Philanthropy sets the strategy and philanthropic goals for the foundation. She is the liaison between the health system and the foundation board and keeps a constant flow of communication between the two groups. Together with the foundation board chair, the VP of Philanthropy supports the foundation board’s effective leadership. As a leader and an expert in her field, she is a trusted advisor to each board member and facilitates creating personal plans for full engagement in philanthropy. As a board member, you can help drive philanthropy by not only actively participating in the creation of your plan but also by executing and delivering on your shared goals.

The effective VP of Philanthropy must be a strategic, visionary thinker. She must have a full understanding of the organizational mission, vision and strategic plan. The VP must be able to articulate this to the board, donors, prospects and the broader community in a compelling way. A strong and persuasive, yet humanistic, communicator is vital in this role.

The VP of Philanthropy must have a relationship with the CEO based on mutual trust, respect and confidence; she serves as his top philanthropic advisor. The VP is a senior member of the executive team and works closely with its members, so they fully understand and embrace their roles in shaping a culture of philanthropy. She orchestrates their time wisely by including them in donor meetings when appropriate and encouraging participation in donor engagement. She continually educates and engages them in leveraging their leadership role to supporting philanthropic efforts of the health care system.

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