Experienced, Independent, Accountable
I conduct most all work myself. I am not affiliated with other consultants, consulting firm(s) nor freelance fundraising professionals. I do occasionally suggest other reputable partners for additional support, like automated phone and bulk mailing services. But in truth, I have learned how to design and conduct major gift campaigns and significant capacity-building efforts myself through smart thinking, many years of hands-on experience, innovative use of new technologies and more, as outlined in this website.
Yes, I can advise you based upon more than three decades of experience in the nonprofit sector, and you can implement the actual work. But I am known for both having a big picture view, and for doing the work myself. It is up to you.
I have been a “troubleshooter,” tackling difficult or “impossible” campaigns and turning them around. I have also handled negative public relations situations by devising a plan and addressing them head-on, and I have helped move organizations forward and beyond. I am not afraid of challenged but worthy projects. I am also unafraid of exciting, young nonprofit startups! In fact, I enjoy those and find working with them fulfilling.
I have helped raise more than $33 million in private sector donations over the course of my nonprofit career, as well as substantial funding for a number of nonprofits for which I have volunteered. Transparency is one of my core values.
Copies of documents and other information are provided at the conclusion of each assignment (primarily electronic files), which are provided as you prefer: flash drive, CD, via cloud platforms like Dropbox, Google Drive (and other platforms like Google Photo), and more.
I have in the past rescued nonprofits that have lost my project files months or years later, restoring them as completely as possible, so the organization may move forward. In one case, this saved them literally tens of thousands of dollars.
Today, the vast majority of work is documented and stored securely in “the cloud.” This requires passwords for various platforms including potential grant making entities. I secure all my project passwords in Dashlane. Dashlane is encrypted with the world’s leading standard for encryption. Hence, my clients may be confident their documentation is highly secure while I am working with them. When I complete an assignment, I notify my nonprofits that I will be deleting the passwords pertaining to my work for them. If/when I have set-up new password accounts, I provide a chart of login information so they may carry forward.
My work has been secured in the cloud since 2003. Hence, I was a relatively early adopter of cloud document storage. In terms of my Gmail account (primary and accessible via the contact form on Carolyn’s Nonprofit Blog), WordPress and Facebook I use two-factor authentication with Google Authenticator.
Donors and Ethics
Every effort is made to identify appropriate prospective donors. However, the ultimate decision to make a donation rests with the donor and depends upon their interest level and current circumstances. No “high pressure” solicitations are employed.
I do not engage in percentage-based fundraising, in accordance with industry “best practices.”
I am sensitive to confidentiality of donor databases. I do not reveal the information therein to other organizations unless permission is granted. But if I was the person who originally suggested the prospect based upon my prior experiences and/or friendships, I retain the right to my own knowledge. My life and contacts cannot be “stolen,” as it were. If you have concerns, do not hesitate to ask. I am always open to frank conversations along these lines, and I respect my partners!
- Each project is different; the cost for my services varies accordingly.
- I enjoy tackling one campaign or project at a time over multiple months (or longer, normally between one and three years), but I have also taken on projects part-time.
- I have worked in the offices of nonprofits side-by-side with staff, or when space is lacking, at my dedicated home office. I admit, I tend to get more done when I can work from my home office where it is quiet and I have my own computer equipment. I often work longer and more flexible hours than required.
- I am usually paid a flat monthly fee. From those funds, I pay for my own taxes, basic office expenses, local travel, insurance, equipment and benefits. This makes it easier for those hiring me.
- Occasionally, I have been an adjunct staff member, receiving benefits from an organization for a certain length of time while working on a long-term (multi-year) project. That is rare, however.
- If you think you would like me to work with your organization for an hourly fee, let’s talk. Certainly, social media reporting of events, video creation, social media platform work, individual grant applications and the like are fairly easy to handle on an hourly basis. One-time special events and conferences can also be broken-down into an hourly fee structure, as can educational programs.
Banking and Payment
- Checks are fine, but electronic fund transfers are preferred. I do maintain banking accounts with Square, PayPal, Venmo and Western Union. Cash and reloadable “debit” cards are certainly an option.
- I normally invoice my professional clients with an official form for the record, and if you require additional documentation, I am happy to accommodate you.
- When working month to month, I also normally ask for one half of one months’ fee upfront to start, which means my final month of work is also one half of one month’s fee (an easy conclusion to my engagements). When I begin work, expenditures are made right away, and that is the reason for this rule of engagement (and also it is a “good faith” agreement I have with my clientele).
- To cancel a contract may be done with 30 days’ notice. Things happen, and I understand that.
- My tax documentation is prepared by my longtime accounting firm, Hahn & Oldham, P.C. (since 2000). I archive each and every receipt, which is to say, solid record keeping is in place.
I am happy to provide references upon request.
“Trust but verify.”
If you speak with someone who says they know me and my work, be sure to check. Sometimes someone who seems to be the obvious choice to ask for a reference – a public figure or someone who is quite vocal in the community – is not. Many of my closest allies and hardest-working volunteers and donors are quiet and less well-known. Those with whom I have actually worked will know best what I was able to accomplish for them and their projects.
Remember also that I have been a “troubleshooter” on several occasions, working on a project with – or without – staff. Staff are not always the best resource, in other words (although I certainly have staffed executive directors, several of whom have built careers and reputations on my work). I am also a “company of one.” There have never been other employees of my one-person company. I would greatly appreciate your letting me know if someone is associating themselves with me and my work.
Last but not least, when I am done with a project, I normally continue to share information and advice as needed (free of charge unless extensive additional work is required). My aim is always to see my organizations succeed, even after I am long gone.
Remembering Those Who Made a Difference
I have listed individuals – sadly no longer with us – who have had a lasting impact on my life. Looking back, I realize how incredibly fortunate I was – especially when I was young and just starting out – to have known them.
- Richard C. Bartlett (who while living and working with me, made sure my contributions were recognized when others would claim them as their own)
- Penelope Burnett(my first, toughest but best development teacher)
- Frank S. Cimino (we went through hell on a project for six months and remained fast friends – savvy about human nature, Frank took my ideas seriously and he came to me for advice on several occasions – we enjoyed working together)
- Elizabeth Warnock Fernea (she encouraged me as a young female undergraduate student, at a time when I was unsure of myself)
- Bill D. Francis (always encouraging even in dire circumstances, one of my favorite “mother hens”)
- John Honeyman (although I did not know him, of course, my documented 18th century Irish ancestor who was a spy for General George Washington at a pivotal time during the American Revolution has inspired me ever since I discovered him in 2010!)
- Alfred Ashbrook King (a sage leader with a wry sense of humor – we agreed on everything)
- Frank W. McBee, Jr. (he gave excellent advice, protected me when needed early in my career, and fed me the ice cream special at Headliner’s on more than one occasion)
- William B. Miller (he and Maureen believed in me and supported my work in Corpus Christi, which lead to substantial results)
- Edmund L. Pincoffs (one of my first “bosses,” he knew I was young and had much yet to learn, but he encouraged me in ways that sustained me for years to come)
- Edgar A. Robinson (a source of positive energy during one of the most challenging major gift campaigns in Dallas history – a “rock”)
- Zeta Bledsoe Sikes and her husband, Tuskegee Airman and UT Professor Emeritus Melvin P. Sikes (unconditional love for more than 30 years, they always took my side of whatever argument was going on at any given time, smiles)
- Val Wilkie, Jr. (a prince among philanthropic foundation professionals in Texas and nationally).