The Company I See (Part Two)

Trent Dunham interview with Rick Dunham

When you walk into the D+C headquarters, you’ll see a framed picture on the wall titled “The Company I See.” It puts into words why we exist as an organization.

Here is more of my interview with Rick Dunham as he unpacks this concept as it relates to Dunham+Company.

Trent: The second sentence in “The Company I See” says the organizations we serve view us as trusted advisors. Why the term “trusted advisors?”

Rick: Well, the currency of any relationship is trust, and with our clients there must be a deep-seated trust that what we’re going to bring to the table is proper counsel and strategy. Trust is something that is always earned. It’s not a statement about the organizations we serve as much as the responsibility we have to earn trust so that the advice we give is something they embrace.

It’s also a challenge to leadership and everyone within Dunham+Company. Every day, every moment that we serve a client, we’re working to earn their trust and to respect the fact that clients aren’t going to automatically trust.

So, all we do, whether it’s delivering on what we say we’re going to do or being quick to admit mistakes if something goes wrong, it all relates to being a trusted advisor.

Trent: The fourth paragraph says, “The Company I See is relentless in its pursuit to be the best at not-for-profit marketing and fundraising, and is recognized as a thought leader in our industry.” 

Here at Dunham+Company, one of the ways we consider thought leadership to manifest itself most is in our research. Talk about your passion for research and why that’s such an important part of who we are.

Rick: The constant pursuit of excellence has to be rooted in continual growth of knowledge and understanding. Early on, I realized there was such a wealth of information, data, and insight on fundraising and donor behaviors. I knew we had to start investing in research.

And so we’ve done a lot of research over the years, everything from the way donors engage online to our groundbreaking research around the online fundraising scorecards. The idea is to take a hard look at consumer behavior and how it affects and informs the way we structure our communications.

For me, the passion has always been to create understanding and to work off of grounded research that’s objective and will guide us into proper strategic thinking. We’ve striven to be a company seen within the industry as reputable and whose information is going to be accurate.

Trent: Speaking of research, you’ve been highly involved with The Giving Institute and subsequently, Giving USA. Tell us about that.

Rick: Giving USA was first published in 1955 due to a lack of research in the industry. It’s the longest running, most widely respected report on philanthropy in America, looking at the sources of philanthropy as well as how they’re being used.

About ten years ago, we were invited to join The Giving Institute and were so very honored to do so. Over time, I’ve had the opportunity to serve on the Giving USA Foundation Board and eventually moved into the chair role a little over a year ago.

If you desire to be a thought leader and to provide leadership around trends in our industry, there’s nothing more reputable to be engaged with or a part of than Giving USA.

And since I’ve been involved with the Foundation, we’ve been able to expand the amount of research through the Foundation, special reports on planned giving, donor advised funds, giving to religion, and more. All of this has been extremely valuable not only to me personally, but to our company as it’s helped to inform where things are going and how to advise our clients around best strategies and best practices.

Trent: For other leaders out there, what would you say is the greatest benefit of the exercise “The Company I See”?

Rick: For me, it was to clarify the call on our company and to define the lane in which we were going to run.

There are many things we could do, but this is what God called us to do. The outcome is measured not in the number of clients or the amount of revenue that we might generate, but by kingdom impact. And that is why we get up every day.

For more insight and direction on developing a document like this for your organization, be sure to check out The Dunham Podcast episode “The Company I See”.


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Ready to take the next step? Dunham+Company is here to help your organization have more impact and establish deeper relationships with your donors and supporters. Contact Bethany Cranfield at 469-454-0100 to get more information.