How I Work: Mentors, Fees and Projects
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 a core value. I abide by industry best practices: no percentage-based fundraising.
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 more.
I believe in the cloud. I have rescued nonprofit organizations that have lost my development project files months or years later, restoring them as completely as possible so the organizations may continue to move forward. In one case, this saved an organization literally tens of thousands of dollars, and millions of dollars of carefully researched information about potential contributors. If the Department of Defense can move into the cloud, so can you! If you have questions, just ask.
More About Security
Today, many grant applications are developed and submitted online on a variety of platforms. This requires login passwords. I secure 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 on various platforms for my nonprofits, I provide a chart of login information so they may carry forward. I am also available 24-7 beyond my tenure to answer questions and provide information.
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 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. Here is a link to a page that discusses more about ethics, diversity and inclusion and privacy.
- 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.
- Checks are fine, but electronic fund transfers bank-to-bank are preferred. I do maintain accounts with PayPal, Venmo and Western Union. Cash and re-loadable “debit” cards are certainly an option. I mention all this because I have found every nonprofit and every volunteer (as I am often hired by volunteers and donors), are different; it is best to be flexible.
- 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, objective professional 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 falsely associating themselves with me and my work.
Last but not least and as suggested earlier on t his page, 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 | Dick made sure my contributions to Texas Nature Conservancy were recognized when others would seek to claim them as their own. I enjoyed and appreciated his mentorship and his enthusiasm deeply.
- Penelope Burnett | Penny was my first, toughest but best development teacher.
- Frank S. Cimino | Frank and I went through hell for six months on an Austin project and that made us fast friends. It was a painful experience, but we survived. I continued to provide help for his nonprofit projects after we concluded our work on that one.
- Elizabeth Warnock Fernea | An internationally renowned author and expert on women in the Middle East, Dr. Fernea encouraged me while I was attending undergraduate classes at The University of Texas at Austin. I am still in awe of her today.
- John Honeyman | Although I did not know him, my documented 18th century Irish ancestor who was a spy for General George Washington at a pivotal time during the American Revolution. In brief, he was responsible for the successful crossing of the Delaware that helped turn the tide of the American Revolutionary War in favor of the Americans. He has inspired me ever since I discovered him in 2010.
- Alfred Ashbrook King | I worked with Alfred on more than one nonprofit project in Austin early in my career, and I found him to be a wise leader with a wry sense of humor – we agreed on everything. He deserves a great deal more credit for furthering the arts in Central Texas. His late wife, Ellen was the inspiration for my growing out my naturally gray hair, and letting it remain “long.”
- Frank W. McBee, Jr. | Frank and I met during my first development job. He shared wise advice, protected me from bad elements as needed, and fed me the ice cream special at Headliner’s Club on more than one occasion. He was gruff and many feared him, but I thought he was very nice, funny, and he was one of my all time favorite volunteers! Most notably, however, Frank founded Austin’s first Fortune 500 company, Tracor.
- William B. Miller | Bill and Maureen Miller believed in me while living and working in Corpus Christi, and they supported my work without hesitation. This led to substantial results for the community! Bill’s trust – and his occasional “surprise” checking-in to see if I was “really working,” smiles – made me smile and urged me forward. Corpus Christi owes the Millers a deep debt of gratitude.
- Edmund L. Pincoffs | This highly regarded legal scholar and philosopher was one of my first “bosses.” Dr. Pincoffs knew I was young (undergraduate at UT Austin), but that I had potential. His encouragement meant a great deal to me, and it still does to this day.
- Edgar A. Robinson | The longtime treasurer of Exxon – now ExxonMobil – was a source of “can do,” positive energy during one of the most challenging major gift campaigns I have ever worked on, in Dallas. The mere mention of his name allowed me to open doors to potential donors. He was revered in Dallas, and with good reason.
- Zeta Bledsoe Sikes and her husband, Tuskegee Airman and UT Professor Emeritus Melvin P. Sikes | These longtime Austin residents became close friends in the early 1980s when I sought and secured a part-time job with Mel during graduate school at UT Austin. Their unconditional love and encouragement were a mainstay for me for more than thirty years.
- Valleau Wilkie, Jr. | I landed on Val’s doorstep in Fort Worth more than once during my nonprofit career. He was a prince among philanthropic foundation professionals in Texas and nationally, and very kind and straight forward. I always knew I could ask Val questions and get the absolute best answer (plus some occasional humor about my various projects, which I deeply appreciated). He had a nice way of not guaranteeing anything … but showing you how you might just get that grant.