Mission and Method
My mission is to help communities, nonprofit organizations, donors and volunteers attain their fundraising, communications and public relations goals in the most efficient, thoughtful, and high quality manner possible.
I am a one-person company and with rare exception, I do most all fundraising campaign design and implementation myself. Early in my career in Dallas in the 1990s, I worked for six months with a large consulting firm, but it was not for me. I value my own experience and insights, and I respect my hard-working nonprofit colleagues in the trenches. I understand what they are up against when it comes to running an office while simultaneously attaining substantial goals. I decided to work as an independent.
Please keep in mind, the most successful and ethical “development” work involves building relationships that last for the long term. I prefer to involve myself with organizations with that mindset. It takes time – often six months to a year or more – to identify, properly research, cultivate, approach, solicit and secure donations, particularly substantial gifts. I can also point you in the right direction in a few months, if you are prepared to keep a meaningful development program going beyond my tenure. This is a responsibility nonprofits should not take lightly.
As a certified nonprofit executive since 2004 (based in Austin, Texas), and continuously re-certified, my work is documented by CFRE International. I conduct work across the state and beyond. Over the course of my career, I have lived in cities across Texas and I am familiar with its many philanthropic communities.
To see a visual career snapshot about me, please see my YouTube channel.
How I Do It
Some are surprised I do most all work by hand. I have learned to “do more with less” in part by:
- Thinking smart;
- Using new technologies (when and where appropriate);
- Staffing donors, volunteers and executives thoughtfully and fully to enable significant donations to be secured from their colleagues (as they are most comfortable); and by
- Making use of existing resources wisely.
While many believe major gift campaigns require an army of staff, I do not. Large financial goals do not also mean large numbers of people, either on staff or in terms of numbers of donors. Most successful campaigns on which I have worked attain their goals through thoughtful, highly-tailored cultivation and solicitation of a relatively modest number of carefully identified, committed donors capable of making major gift donations.
I have become known for being able to clean-up “challenged” fundraising projects where quite a bit was spent on large, supposedly full-service consulting firms that were ultimately unsuccessful. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were wasted on them. In that regard, I have been a “turnaround” fundraiser on more than one occasion. And, I have been asked to work with – or without – staff. I have learned over the years how to be self-reliant.
I believe success depends upon careful evaluation, rolling-up one’s sleeves to do real work, courage and a “can do” mindset, believing in a good cause, and in not employing a “preset” consultant’s format. Each nonprofit is unique! One can learn from prior campaigns, of course, but major gift and special project efforts succeed best when the plan of action and its implementation are tailored specifically to the nonprofit and its constituents.
Last but not least, I do entertain requests from for-profit businesses, governments and professional associations for assistance with digital communications, public relations and other tasks, where there is a good match in terms of skills and interests.
Thank you for visiting!
- My professional associations of choice are NTEN: Nonprofit Technology Network and Certified Fund Raising Executive International (CFRE). From my days in graduate school at The University of Texas at Austin, I have been a continuous member of The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi.
- A good friend of mine who is also a well-known historian and nonprofit fundraising professional, Toni Turner, has a firm, Non Profit Solutions Consultants. We would enjoy teaming-up on projects for the greater good. If you feel you need more than one steady, experienced hand, consider us both!
- If you need legal and philanthropic advice from a trusted and experienced attorney, I recommend MariBen Ramsey. Her websites: MariBen Ramsey Law, PLLC and MariBen Ramsey NonProfit & Philanthropy Consulting.
- I am also a professional advocate of Bloomerang. Follow the link to learn how you can improve your donor retention. To read blog posts produced by me for Bloomerang follow this link.
A Word About Crowdfunding
Crowdfunding has become another effective way to attain large financial goals. While I am not a crowdfunding expert, I have contributed to several campaigns, I keep myself informed about them, and I maintain a library of information about crowdfunding on Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog. In truth, well-organized crowdfunding campaigns are similar to traditional fundraising campaigns. Caution advised: there is no quick way to raise significant funding, whether you seek small gifts from an army of donors, or a few large donations from a carefully selected group.