Donor Cultivation Cycles: Major Gifts and Annual Giving

Every nonprofit organization seeks to build relationships with people who share their vision and want to help carry out their work. By the same token, nonprofit development officers and volunteer fundraisers are keen to understand how to drive increased donor engagement to catalyze their organization’s mission. A solid method for a successful outcome is to follow a Donor Cultivation Cycle. 

In this article, we focus on two important types of Donor Cultivation Cycles: Major Gifts and Annual Giving. These cycles are often used simultaneously, but with varying prospect segments. Using these cycles will help organizations sustain and increase philanthropic support and cultivate repeat donors to become major funders over time.

What is a Donor Cultivation Cycle?

A Donor Cultivation Cycle gives structure to nurturing relationships between an organization and potential donors and helps systemize the solicitation of an individual or group of donors for philanthropic support. 

What are the Benefits of a Donor Cultivation Cycle?

Stability and Consistency. The time you dedicate to following a Donor Cultivation Cycle will help sustain the connections between your organization and your donors. Each time a donor “moves” through the cycle, you enhance their alignment with your organization’s mission and deepen their commitment to your impact. Over time, the goal is for donors to become consistent and visionary partners.

Timing. Understanding when and how to solicit gifts (and knowing how much to ask for) is the primary benefit of investing time into each step in the Donor Cultivation Cycle. Laying out a plan for each prospective donor will help you identify and leverage the most effective timing and ask amount for solicitation. 

Staff and Board Engagement. Aligning your board members, staff, and volunteers around your Donor Cultivation Cycle will arm everyone who helps fundraise with consistent messaging, goals, and milestones to guide relationship-building with donors and prospects.

Donor Engagement. Nurturing individual donors and showing your organization’s appreciation through communications, recognition, events, and one-on-one meetings leads to growth in their personal involvement and the likelihood of repeat giving.  

Donor Retention. Finding new donors is a necessary part of development work as donors lapse and new people wish to support your work, but it can take two to three times the amount of time and effort to secure new donors as compared to retaining donors. Calculate your donor retention rate by dividing the number of repeat donors this year by the total number of donors from the previous year. A drop in donor retention rate year over year can impact overall funds raised. 

Comparing Donor Cultivation Cycles

While there are similarities in the steps to raising dollars for major gifts and annual giving, the type of gift, giving cycle stages, and timelines are slightly different. Major gifts have a longer time horizon, whereas annual gift appeals must be concise to ensure the prospect connects and wants to give back during a specific timeframe. 

Download the Major Gifts Vs Annual Giving Donor Cultivation Comparison Chart

Major Gifts – Major gifts are philanthropic contributions that match the passion of a donor to a strategic initiative that is designed to move an organization toward its vision. Examples of major gifts include funding for construction, program expansion, or special equipment. A major gifts program builds connections with people who have the desire and ability to give at higher levels. 

Every organization sets different thresholds for the definition of what qualifies as a “major gift” based on the size and budget of their organization. A major gift could be $1,000 and above for one organization, and $50,000 or above paid out over three to five years for another. The throughline is that a major gift reflects meaningful philanthropy derived from thoughtfully cultivated relationships. 

A word of caution: When your attention is pulled to major gifts and other special campaigns, don’t forget your annual needs and your smaller donors. The annual operating campaign is the lifeblood of your nonprofit.

Annual Giving – Annual gifts are one-time contributions that fund operations, typically in the form of an annual fund. Annual giving is often the entry point to a donor’s philanthropic engagement with your organization. Annual donors are often an organization’s most committed supporters and can be the basis for future major gifts when cultivated and stewarded properly. Annual giving strategies are typically multi-channel (email, social media, direct mail, phone calls, etc.) and focus on reacquiring past donors and acquiring new donors to build a consistent and strong base of funding support. 

Where Outside Expertise Can Help

The CFA team helps clients work through the full spectrum of the Major Gifts Cultivation Cycle and the Annual Giving Cultivation Cycle, including segmenting and qualifying your donor pool to ensure you know which prospect falls into which category. 

When to Implement a Donor Cultivation Cycle

It’s never too early or too late to implement both cultivation cycles into your nonprofit development function. We hope the ideas above have helped you understand the process. 

Please contact us at Creative Fundraising Advisors if we can help you get started today.

CFA’s Guide to an Effective Nonprofit Campaign Committee

If your organization is considering a capital, endowment, or capacity building campaign and you are not sure if you can inspire and manage the volunteer manpower necessary to carry out the campaign vision, CFA has assembled the following guide on the purpose and fundamentals of effective nonprofit campaign committee management. Read on for best practices to help harness the power of your team to accomplish your philanthropic goals. 

What is a Nonprofit Campaign Committee? 

A nonprofit campaign committee, also known as a campaign steering committee, is a group of volunteers tasked with fundraising and relationship building for a significant campaign outside of annual fundraising. 

Differences between a Campaign Committee vs. Development Committee

A capital campaign is a fundraising effort for a specific project with a defined timeline, and a campaign committee is the volunteer leadership group tasked with the campaign’s launch, progression, and completion. The campaign committee is often formed from members of a campaign feasibility study committee. Members of a campaign committee are not required to be members of the organization’s board of directors. 

Development is an ongoing fundraising activity conducted by staff and development committee volunteers that includes annual giving and major gifts. A development committee is a function of the board of directors of the organization. 

Purpose of the Campaign Committee

Campaign volunteers bring an external energy and impact perspective to the campaign. Volunteers view the campaign from the community’s lens and are genuinely invested in the campaign’s broader success. By leveraging their personal and business connections, campaign volunteers can open the door to new donors outside of the organization’s core networks and expand the overall reach of the campaign.

Campaign Committee Structure and Membership

Campaign committee members are well-connected donors who are passionate about your organization’s mission and are committed to helping raise dollars for a special effort. Most will have been involved with the organization and have existing relationships with staff and other volunteers. It is important that committee members have experience giving before they ask others for financial support, so they are often some of the most invested donors and volunteers in your organization. A campaign committee also includes staff liaisons, such as the executive director and development director. The number of people on the committee depends on the size and scope of your organization and campaign, but is typically between 10-20 members.

The volunteers who lead the campaign and committee are referred to as the Campaign Chair or Campaign Co-Chairs, and they make key decisions about the campaign and recruit other committee members. Many campaigns also have an Honorary Campaign Chair.

Nonprofit Campaign Committee Member Responsibilities

  • Serve on the committee throughout the campaign (3+ years). 
  • Make a significant gift to the campaign, based on individual capacity.
  • Leverage personal and business connections to recruit campaign support.
  • Engage new and prospective donors by sharing campaign information, hosting small gatherings of friends and business associates or on tours of the nonprofit’s facilities, and introducing prospects to other supporters of the organization.
  • Follow up with donors and prospects to close the gift.
  • Thank donors with phone calls and written correspondence as part of ongoing donor stewardship.

Campaign Committee Engagement

Conducting a campaign provides an opportunity for your organization to engage volunteers in different, deeper facets of the organization. Campaign committee participants have an opportunity to actively mold plans and goals for the organization. There are a number of ways to encourage and inspire your committee members through your campaign:

  • Hold regular full committee meetings (bi-monthly or quarterly) and conduct at least one “one-on-one” meeting between the campaign chair(s), staff, and each committee member.
  • Provide job descriptions for every committee member as well as the campaign chair(s) and honorary chair(s).
  • Plan, manage, and track the work of the committee using a moves management system.
  • Inspire committee members by sharing success stories of who your organization has impacted, how different solicitations unfolded, and examples of staff and volunteer achievements.
  • Share campaign progress updates at committee meetings, over email, and on internal dashboards to keep volunteers engaged and enthusiastic about the goals and progress.

Campaign Committee Best Practices

  • Pause to consider each prospect and where they are in the donor cultivation cycle; don’t rush to make an ask with every prospect simply because you are in campaign mode.
  • Ask each committee member to make a personal “stretch” financial gift to the campaign before they ask others to give. Gifts will vary in size based on each individual’s capacity, but the most important metric is that every committee member makes a gift. When 100% of the committee participates in giving to the effort, it sends a strong message to other potential funders that they are seriously committed to the campaign.

When Outside Expertise Can Help

A campaign consultant is a partner to your staff and committee volunteers who helps set the campaign strategy and provides nonprofit fundraising training on how to cultivate, solicit, and close leadership gifts in a campaign. 

Experienced fundraising consultants can bring fresh perspectives to share with the nonprofit campaign committee as they have seen what works in other campaign fundraising engagements. Consultants can also provide the systems needed to track progress and ensure every campaign committee member is confident in asking others to support the campaign.

If your organization is considering a campaign, contact Creative Fundraising Advisors today to set your team up for success.

Fundraising Moves Management: Inspiring Philanthropy One Donor at a Time

By Anne Spears, Campaign Manager

Development professionals must build personal relationships with people who give to their nonprofit so the donor feels connected to both the mission and the people who carry it out.  Donors rarely give to organizations unless they align with its philanthropic vision or have relationships with board members, staff, or other supporters. Whether they realize it or not, donors move organically through a series of stages as they become more deeply involved with an organization. Development staffers can shepherd and track this progression through a process called “moves management.” 

As fundraisers, we must be comfortable cultivating donors and asking for money regularly if we are going to conduct successful campaigns. Moves management is a tracking tool that allows us to inspire donors to give in a way that is most meaningful to them. 

Why use donor moves management?

Moves management is a system of operations that development staff and nonprofit leaders use to strategically elevate personal engagement with donors. Moves management can be used in annual funds, major gifts, and capital and endowment campaigns. 

When I worked at a small private school in College Station, Texas, I learned why donor engagement has to be personal. It was 2012, and we didn’t have a nonprofit donor database or system for tracking donors, so we set out to create one from scratch. The head of the school and I referenced attendance rosters dating back to 1962 and began reaching out to alumni. During the process, we transferred donor information and touchpoints from a spreadsheet to an electronic database and created a centralized, streamlined system by which we could track engagement of prospective donors. We scheduled meetings and hosted tours of the school. The head of the school did a beautiful job of reengaging former families by getting to know them and learning why they loved the school. Alums were overjoyed to be back on campus and felt reconnected to their school. This fresh engagement, which began with the head of the school’s personal invitations, ultimately deepened alum involvement and the completion of a successful capital campaign.

How to implement a donor moves management system

Effective moves management involves examining donor data, tracking donor engagement, and working with staff and volunteers to plan and implement campaign activities ranging from hosting events to asking for campaign gifts.

When CFA is working with a client in campaign mode, we meet to review every lead donor’s giving history, event attendance, volunteer participation, capacity to give, and more. From there, we can gauge the donor’s engagement with the organization, determine where they fall within moves management, and look for opportunities to bring them closer to contributing. We strategize on every activity, assign tasks to staff and volunteers, and set deadlines. For example, the first step with a prospective campaign donor may be for the executive director to ask them to meet. With each successive “move,” we work side by side with our clients to determine the best next step. Many of our clients report that we keep them accountable because they know we will follow up with them on their progress. 

How to track moves

Tracking moves management can be accomplished with a donor database software or a basic spreadsheet. At CFA, we offer a proprietary campaign moves management dashboard customized for each client based on the organization’s goals. Many organizations are not fully utilizing their database software for moves management, so we also provide donor data strategies and training solutions to maximize clients’ existing tools and resources and help them implement a sustainable moves management system for the long run.

Sample plan

Regardless of your system, it’s important to determine and track several key items: Who is the donor prospect manager? Who is the assigned solicitor who holds the relationship with the prospective donor? How much have they given? Do they volunteer or attend events? How much are the ask amounts? What is the next step? Managing relationships, timing engagements, and tracking deadlines is vital to keeping solicitors on task and donors engaged.

  • Consultant Tip: How you collect, maintain, and track donor engagement informs how you determine where a donor or prospect falls along the moves management path. Tracking engagement is also a way to uncover trends that inform the next best steps to reach your goals. Learn more about tracking donor engagement using data analytics.

Key steps in donor moves management

As a campaign manager, I see my role as the conductor who keeps the train moving forward on the tracks. Moves management is how I know which train is going where and when. Here are the five basic steps I follow:

1. Determine the “why.” Why are you acquiring more donors or seeking to increase the number or dollar amount of gifts? Your answer could be that you are growing the annual fund or raising capital for a new building.

2. Learn more about donors and prospects. Examine your data to determine each prospective donor’s motivation and capacity. If you are planning a campaign, consider conducting a wealth screening of your database.

3. Segment and strategize. Utilize the knowledge from examining your data, combined with the “why” of your campaign, to segment your prospective donors into groups and set goals for each group and each donor or prospect. Goals might be to encourage a segment to become recurring donors, to increase their annual donation, or to consider making a planned gift.  

4. Engage donors and prospects. This is where the assigned solicitor personally engages prospective donors by following their inclinations and the campaign strategy. Our job at CFA is to guide our clients and help them set a strategy to cultivate and solicit personal relationships with leading prospects and donors. If you’ve done your job with cultivation, you’ll know the right time to make the ask and the right people to have in the room. 

5. Track progress and next steps. It is crucial to input gifts in your donor database for historical record keeping and tax purposes, but it is equally important to track moves management and identify which strategies worked for which donor. There is always a next step. Check out CFA’s donor cultivation cycle to learn more.  

Final thoughts

The goal in philanthropy is to help people engage meaningfully with organizations that address the issues they care most about. Every campaign is unique, and every donor has individual interests and levels of dedication to the mission. We can each inspire philanthropy when we give special attention to these nuances and build personal relationships with our donors.  

Contact CFA to see how moves management and donor engagement can improve your fundraising efforts


Anne Spears

Anne Spears, Campaign Manager

An experienced fundraiser with over a decade of experience in education, religious, and social service nonprofit fundraising, Anne is energized and inspired by working side by side with our nonprofit partners as a project manager for fundraising campaigns.

Most recently Anne was the Director of Development at the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas where she oversaw a multitude of fundraising initiatives including capital campaigns for Diocesan camp facilities and 87 Diocesan churches. Previously Anne was the Chief Development Officer for Ascension DePaul Services of San Antonio and the Development Coordinator at St. Thomas Early Learning Center in College Station, Texas. She also worked for the State of Montana as a social services specialist serving indigenous and rural populations.

Anne has a B.S. in Sociology, a M.S. in Family and Child Studies, and a Master of Public Administration. She also is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE). Anne lives in San Antonio, Texas with her husband and three children.

Email Anne

CFA’s Guide to Donor Communications and Outreach

Creative Fundraising Advisors (CFA) has assembled a guide on donor communications to help you achieve better engagement with one of your organization’s most important audiences: your donors. Below you will find basic concepts and key steps toward implementing donor communications along with best practices to help your organization elevate its fundraising. 

What are Donor Communications?

Donor communications refer to content designed to activate and cultivate connections between your organization’s mission and the people who have the inclination to support it. Donor communications include direct mail appeals, philanthropic news, and social media campaigns and are a consistent component of the fundraising and development function of any nonprofit organization.

Donors deserve gratitude for their contributions to your organization and regular updates to keep them apprised of progress toward mission delivery and the organization’s vision for the future. Prospective donors identified as having an inclination to give require ongoing engagement to increase the likelihood of a donation.

Distinction between Donor and Nonprofit Communications 

Donor communications are an integral part of your overall nonprofit communications strategy. Nonprofit communications and donor communications strategies reinforce each other but are distinct. Nonprofit communications, or nonprofit public relations, are designed to reach and respond to everyone, while donor communications focus on engaging supporters and prospective donors. 

When and Why to Use Donor Communications

Long-lasting donor relationships are the foundation for a nonprofit’s growth, which is why donor communications must focus on engaging donors and reaching prospects. Donor communications are a year-round initiative that is equally critical during times of success, crisis, and business as usual. CFA has found that organizations need to engage with their prospects anywhere from 10-24 times before it is time to ask for a financial commitment. These numbers are a general rule and illustrate the necessity of a comprehensive donor communications strategy. Forbes Nonprofit Council recommends engaging seven times with a donor before making the ask.

Components of a Donor Communications Strategy

The expected outcomes of donor communications include acquisition of new donors, funding for annual and special campaigns, and donor retention. A donor communications strategy is built upon an organization’s fiscal development goals and annual fundraising timeline, and key components of the strategy include data analytics, staffing and expertise, and correlation with the overall brand of the nonprofit. 

Donor Data and Segmentation

To increase donor engagement and retention, nonprofits must understand and appreciate their target audience and personalize their communications approach using donor data strategies. Your organization’s development team can leverage data by segmenting donors into two or more distinct groups based on giving history and donor inclination scores. Segmentation allows for the creation of more tailored communications.

Customer relationship management (CRM), also known as donor management software, is an invaluable tool for managing donor and prospect relationships. A CRM application, or donor management software, can help your development team keep track of where donors and prospects fall within your Donor Cultivation Cycle to determine what type of communication is best to approach them and at what time. 

Staff and Resources

Creating compelling appeals, managing a schedule of donor communications delivery, and designing digital and printed content requires time and expertise. It is important for an organization to plan annual and capital campaign budgets that leverage writers with storytelling expertise, visionary designers, direct mail and digital platforms, and fundraising advisors. 

Coordination with Brand Identity

Brand recognition is important for several reasons, and chief among them is fundraising. When an appeal arrives at a potential donor’s doorstep or email inbox, they will be more likely to read it and contribute if the brand is known to them. Using similar content and graphics across all channels will reinforce the organization’s message and brand identity, which will increase the likelihood of a donor’s commitment.

Four Types of Donor Communications

There are four types of communication that can make up your donor communications strategy to increase donor engagement: 

  1. Acknowledgment – Acknowledgment messages are not only important for providing donors with the appropriate tax information, but also in expressing gratitude. Read more about donor acknowledgment as part of ongoing stewardship here.
  2. Informational – Regular updates are imperative to donor engagement and retention. Examples of informational donor communications include annual reports, newsletters, videos, and emails that highlight donors, volunteers, and beneficiaries and illustrate how philanthropic gifts drive social impact. 
  3. Persuasive/The Appeal – Strong fundraising appeals have a clear ask for support with a specific dollar amount or percentage increase request. Examples include sharing a campaign case for support with prospects in face-to-face meetings, direct mail solicitations with enclosed pledge forms, email messages with links to online donation forms, and social media posts with quick and easy ways to give. Follow-up messages reminding people to give are also an appropriate part of persuasive donor communications.
  4. Feedback – Communications is a two-way street. Organizations must be open to receiving as well as distributing information. Examples include surveys (electronic or hard copy forms), stakeholder interviews (such as those used for strategic planning and feasibility studies), social media engagement, and face-to-face conversations.

Donor Communications Methods

  • Direct Outreach – Face-to-face meetings and video calls are the most effective way to communicate with top donors and prospects, and direct phone calls are a great alternative.
  • Print – Printed materials are impactful and direct mail remains an effective way to raise dollars. Many people enjoy a brochure to hold in their hands and read, especially creatively designed materials that dovetail with digital efforts.
  • Digital – Nonprofits must have a strong website with compelling messaging and a clear call to action to make a donation and all digital communications should lead back to this giving page. Email, digital presentations (such as PowerPoints), social media (such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn), and digital tools (text-to-give) are examples of digital channels.
  • Multichannel – Using a multichannel approach that employs more than one donor communications method is proven to have a higher success rate than using a single channel. According to Nonprofits Source, marketing campaigns that used direct mail along with one or more digital media tools experienced a 118% increase in response rate compared to those that only used direct mail. 

Donor Communications Plan and Timeline

Four to six months ahead of a new fiscal year, set out a plan for donor communications that clearly states the timeline, budget, tasks, and staff member responsibilities. Plan steps for each donor segment including a calendar for which segments to approach with which communication method. Your organization’s development and public relations must collaborate to maximize brand identity and audience engagement.

Measuring Donor Communications

Tracking donor engagement will allow you to measure the return on investment of donor communications. Recording gift amounts, event attendance, and volunteer participation, along with measuring open rates, click-through rates, or conversions to gifts, informs how to segment your donor and prospect data and provides insights for the development team to assign “inclination scores” to each donor. Tracking and inclination scores are very useful for determining which types of communication resonate with each donor or prospect and what strategies to implement in future appeals to increase return on investment. 

Donor Communications Best Practices

  • Personalization – Marketers have found that adding personalized elements to communications resonate with donors and result in deeper engagement and higher return on investment. People are more likely to answer a call, letter, or digital communication when it arrives with their name on it and references how their contribution can or has helped your organization deliver on its mission and fundraising goals. In fact, one study found that 92% of marketers also believe that their prospects and customers expect a personalized experience. 
  • Storytelling – People are more likely to read and respond to content that focuses on a single individual who can benefit from their generosity. Deborah Small, Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, found that people are more likely to give to help one individual rather than an overall cause or statistic.
  • Testimonials – Leverage powerful supporters and experts to encourage donors and prospects to follow their lead in supporting the cause. Testimonials from major donors, influencers, politicians, and community leaders are an extra stamp of approval. 

How Outside Expertise Can Help

At CFA, we partner with you and your organization to maximize data and communications strategies and uncover the insights that elevate fundraising. We help create messaging that resonates and reflects the vision for annual, major gifts, and capital campaigns and can walk you through the best ways to pitch your prospects. We also develop case for support materials, website language, digital presentations, and more as part of our clients’ donor communications strategy. 

Contact us today to get started.

Using Donor Analytics to Develop Your Donor Engagement Strategy

By Stephanie Brouwer, Senior Manager, Prospect Development

Gone are the days when nonprofit professionals and board volunteers convened around a table to hypothesize about a prospect’s inclination to give and ranked prospects based on recent giving history. While relationship insights and staff intuition remain important, there is both an art and a science to fundraising. Intuition (the art) combined with donor analytics (the science) will generate the best fundraising results. 

Where to start with donor analytics

If you are like many nonprofit professionals, you know your organization needs help with your donor database, but you may not be quite sure where to start. When I begin working with a new client, I help them define the problem they are trying to solve. Once we understand your challenges, then we can help optimize your data analytics and strategy to increase your return on investment. We often utilize data to prioritize which existing donors to ask for which appeal because it is more cost effective to cultivate people who are already giving to your organization versus acquiring new donors. 

CFA donor analytics can help answer:

  • How can my organization maximize philanthropic investments?
  • How can we optimize our organization’s database infrastructure to support our fundraising goals?
  • Is anyone on my team consistently tracking and recording donor engagement data such as event attendance and volunteer participation? 
  • How inclined are prospects to support our organization, and how does their inclination align with their wealth capacity?
  • Are there untapped pockets of opportunity in our database?
  • Is our organization staffed to properly manage the scale of giving opportunities?

Analyzing data to determine a donor’s inclination to give

Inclination analysis is a way to predict which prospects have the potential to move from having capacity to give to being likely to give with the right outreach, cultivation, and engagement. We use donor inclination scores to illustrate how willing and interested the people in your database are to give to your organization based on their past behavior. We develop the scores based on a customized, data-driven points model and project the potential size of gifts by combining this information with a wealth screening of your database. 

Here are examples of prospect prioritization used to prepare for a sample capital campaign.

The shaded boxes represent 176 prospects from a sample core prospect list with the greatest campaign potential. The blue section represents prospects for six-figure gifts. In this example, the “cold” and “very cold” prospects will need additional cultivation to determine if they are viable prospects for a major campaign, while the “warm” to “very hot” are more likely to be ready to make a commitment soon.

The range for these projections comes from the low and high range of the wealth capacity score, using a 5-year pledge commitment.

Most organizations discover through an inclination analysis that, on average, 75% to 90% of their donor database falls in the “cold” category. These may be lapsed or infrequent donors, but they are in your database for a reason. Many nonprofits solicit the same people again and again or buy data in pursuit of new donors instead of cultivating the “cold” prospects. Greater opportunity to move prospects from “cold” to “warm” exists when you increase engagement through strategic cultivation and donor communications. 

Check out our Donor Communications Guide to learn how changing or increasing your donor communications tactics can increase your return on investment.

Most development professionals rely on a “moves management” system to track cultivation of prospects along a continuum of giving. One person might be a past donor at risk of disengagement while another has steadily increased their giving over time. At CFA, we call this system the Donor Cultivation Cycle, and data analytics plays a key role in determining where your prospects lie within the cycle. Today’s technology tools bring increased accuracy to data analytics and can help you track when you have engaged with a prospect. 

  • Consultant Tip: Have one person on staff assigned as data manager or prospect manager. This role is especially crucial during any campaign outside of your regular annual giving effort. Ensure that this person is trained in the concept of moves management and how to maximize database tools.

Good tracking is key

How you collect, maintain, and track donor engagement informs how you determine and refine a donor’s inclination score. Tracking donor engagement is also a way to uncover trends that inform the next best steps to reach your goals. Tracking does not have to be cumbersome, and it must be done year-round. 

Many software applications will allow you to tag database records to enable you to match individuals with gifts and appeals. This is a great way to build new insights about your donors. For example, if you know that Donor A gave $100 through a text-to-give initiative but has never responded to direct mail solicitations, or that Donor B pledged $1,000 to a major gifts campaign at an event, and Donor C made a $25 contribution online from a postcard mailer QR code, then you can use this information to customize your outreach strategy and increase response rates.

  • Consultant Tip: If you are not sure which message will best resonate with a segment of your donors or prospects, start with an “A/B test”: send out two versions of a message — one that is heartwarming and one that is transactional — and track which gets a better response from which people. This can help you tailor future messaging.

When donor analytics is right for you

Taking a deeper dive into data analytics and donor inclination can be done anytime your organization is raising annual dollars and cultivating donors for special projects and future campaigns. For a capital campaign, I recommend analyzing your database and prioritizing prospects at least three to six months before you expect to launch a campaign.

CFA donor analytics helps shape fundraising strategy by harnessing the nuances of donor inclination, database training, and wealth screening, which can optimize moves management, cultivation steps, and best practices to increase donor engagement. 

Reach out today to see how CFA can help you harness data analytics in your fundraising strategy.


Stephanie Brouwer, Senior Manager, Prospect Development

Stephanie has over 10 years of experience in prospect research, prospect management, and data analytics at both higher education and nonprofit organizations. At CFA, Stephanie’s responsibilities include establishing strategy, procedures, and processes for prospect research, prospect management, and data analytics. Stephanie is Blackbaud-certified in Raiser’s Edge NXT and Raiser’s Edge and has a master’s degree in library science. Additionally, Stephanie is a Gallup-certified Strengths coach and has a passion for helping others understand, apply, and integrate CliftonStrengths results into their lives and work.

Email Stephanie

Optimizing Multichannel Fundraising

By Rob Ruchotzke, Senior Consultant

Years ago, I sent an email solicitation to thousands of college alums as part of a multichannel fundraising campaign in which every person’s salutation read “Dear [first name].” That email merge mistake was embarrassing, and it was a direct result of me trying to single handedly manage all donor communication. Since then, I have been a proponent of bringing a team approach to multichannel fundraising, and believe that leaning on fundraising, communication, database, and digital experts, as well as your colleagues, provides an extra measure of success.

Multichannel campaigns use more than one communications tool for donor outreach and fundraising. Direct mail, email, social media (such as Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn), and digital tools (such as text-to-give) are all channels used in donor communications. 

Coordinating fundraising and other donor communications across multiple channels is proven to have a higher success rate than using a single channel. According to Nonprofits Source, marketing campaigns that used direct mail along with one or more digital media tools experienced a 118% increase in response rate compared to those that only used direct mail. 

A 2020 study found that multichannel donors give as much as three times more than single channel donors, and are more likely to keep giving year after year.

Whether you are new to multichannel fundraising or expanding from three channels to five, there are a few key ideas to keep in mind. 

How to begin multichannel fundraising

Tailor your message

Your case for support must be tailored to your brand, campaign, and, most importantly, your audience. Using similar content and graphics across all your channels will reinforce your message and brand identity. Start by creating a long form message for your printed solicitation letter, then pare it down for an email version, pull out human impact stories to highlight in a video script, and emphasize one or two sound bytes with relevant hashtags for social media. Anchor each communication within your multichannel appeal to your giving page. Don’t let the donor get distracted by linking to social media pages; instead, make it easy for people to land in one consistent place with a prominent “give” button.

  • Consultant Tip: A key tactic to help drive donor engagement is to personalize correspondence to show your constituents you know them. You’ll also want to tailor several versions of your solicitation note to distinct types of supporters: leading donors should receive a different message than someone who has never donated before.

Choose channels wisely 

It is crucial for nonprofits to adapt and learn how and when to best communicate with dedicated supporters; it would not be advisable, for example, to invest time and resources into Facebook if it is not where your stakeholders read about you. Determine what options are available to your organization and are realistic for you to implement. While text messaging services or digital ads might seem intimidating, their implementation is straightforward, they are relatively cost effective, and they have proven success especially with younger audiences. 

  • Consultant Tip: Educate your donors on the channels you offer so they are comfortable with the different approaches to giving. For example, try emailing and snail-mailing an instructional segment about a text-to-give option or include it as a story-telling video on YouTube. Whichever channels you choose to communicate, be ready to respond to comments and questions, such as those that come via social media, in a timely way.

Here are samples from a personalized multichannel fundraising campaign for the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota. The museum combined a direct mailing with social media and email to amplify their messaging.

Test first and analyze along the way

How you test to ensure you are ready to launch a multichannel fundraising campaign depends on the capabilities of your data and communications platforms. Send out test emails, texts, and other communications through each channel so you can be confident in your approach. Testing adds an extra day or two to get a representative sample and receive feedback or edit, but it is well worth it (and you won’t send out a letter with incorrect merge fields in the salutation like I did!) 

Evaluation during and after a multichannel fundraising campaign is equally important. Schedule dedicated time with your team to review and analyze your multichannel results and adjust your course as you discover new data. It is imperative to determine which channels are the most effective and how you can improve communications and outreach in the next campaign. 

  • Consultant Tip: Evaluation of donor data for each multichannel effort is important to determine what channels are most successful, if there are new donor segments emerging, and who needs additional personalized attention, such as a phone call or meeting.

Increase engagement with multichannel fundraising

Your donors are passionate about what you do, and you want them to continue to feel connected to your mission through donor stewardship. When you provide a seamless journey for them to connect with you in various ways and more often, you are increasing engagement. Engaged donors are more likely to volunteer, attend events, and tell friends about your work. 

  • Consultant Tip: The practice of employing multiple platforms is not only for your primary annual campaign. Take advantage of multichannel donor communications across all the phases of the donor cultivation cycle.

Multichannel Fundraising with CFA

At CFA, we can help you reach your audience strategically and transform your fundraising results. A development assessment is a great resource to help identify your unique donor communications opportunities, and partners like CFA can help you with a strategy for using multichannel fundraising as part of campaign counsel.

Contact us today to learn how we can partner with you.


Rob Ruchotzke

Rob Ruchotzke, Senior Consultant

Rob Ruchotzke focuses on annual giving strategy, development assessments, campaign feasibility studies, and campaign counsel. Rob comes to CFA with nearly a decade of annual giving experience in higher education institutions. Most recently, Rob served as the director of annual giving at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), where he led multichannel campaigns, developed crowdfunding platforms, managed annual giving vendors, and served as the strategy lead for UNI’s Day of Giving (#LivePurpleGiveGold).

A native of Camanche, Iowa, Rob holds a BA in Public Relations from the UNI and resides in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Email Rob

Crowdfunding Campaigns for Nonprofits: Giving Tuesday and Beyond

By Rob Ruchotzke, Senior Consultant

There’s nothing like a crowdfunding campaign to capture a moment, build your donor base, or raise money for a specific project. I’ve had the opportunity to lead over 30 crowdfunding projects ranging in goal from $1,000 to $50,000, as well as seven days of giving and Giving Tuesday campaigns. Each project had its unique set of challenges and opportunities that led to the insights I am pleased to share with you below. 

Crowdfunding allows you to galvanize your existing supporters and leverage your constituents and their social media networks to expand your reach faster than traditional annual giving methods like phonathons or direct mail campaigns. Plus, crowdfunding can be fun. When people see you and your followers having fun with a campaign, they are more likely to engage. 

Crowdfunding is most successful when executed over a designated time period or on a single “Day of Giving,” such as Giving Tuesday. Giving Tuesday falls on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving (November 29, 2022) and is recognized around the world as a day to make contributions to nonprofit organizations. On Giving Tuesday 2021, nearly $3 billion was raised in the United States alone. 

How to run a successful crowdfunding campaign

Set Campaign Messaging

Your goal can be a specific number of donors or a dollar amount, but it must be attainable, relevant, and time-bound. Create a unique, authentic tagline to communicate your goal and a dedicated landing page or fundraising platform that you can link to in all of your messages. Plan to share stories online along the way. 

  • Consultant Tip: Campaign video teasers sent via email and social media are effective ways to build anticipation before your campaign launch. Here is an example of a crowdfunding campaign teaser video from a university where I worked. When we encouraged reactions and responses to our posts, people were more likely to spread our message.

Build Your Team

Recruit a leader to manage the progress of internal staff members, volunteers, and “star” ambassadors. Who is best suited for planning and who for execution? Who is motivated and will stay engaged? What connections to social media “stars” do you have on your Board who would be willing to make a gift, post about their contribution on their social networks, and help increase organic engagement?

  • Consultant Tip: Track which of your ambassadors brought in the most new donors or overall dollars and create a leaderboard to generate healthy competition within your team to increase gifts.

Find the Right Partner

Crowdfunding can be part of your larger annual giving strategy. Partnering with an expert who understands the planning, marketing, fundraising, and strategic moves that crowdfunding requires will make your effort run smoothly and give you confidence. 

  • Consultant Tip: Set aside time to meet with an account manager for each of the platforms you use including your customer relationship management (CRM) and bulk email platform, direct mail vendor, texting application, and giving page. Make sure you understand what tools you have at your disposal and how to use them to make your campaign really shine.

Set a Timeline

Once you determine your crowdfunding approach, it is crucial to plan when, what, and where you will post your campaign goals and progress updates. Creating a timeline can help your team see the bigger picture, generate new ideas throughout the process, and stay on schedule with timely communications. 

Create Urgency

Crowdfunding is most effective when you have a compelling and urgent need to entice donors, many of whom may not yet be associated with your organization. One or more of your donors may be willing to encourage others to give to your crowdfunding effort by making a challenge gift and calling for matching gifts. 

  • Consultant Tip: In advance of launch day, meet with potential major donors to “seed” the campaign with early donations. This early support will encourage more people to get involved, especially when you have a challenge gift. During a designated day, time challenges can also be effective, such as a “Rush Hour Challenge” or “School’s Out Challenge” or a “Members Only Challenge.” 

Drive Momentum

Your crowdfunding campaign success will be defined by how constituents drive the momentum via social media. Harness your ambassadors and keep the online engagement moving with timely messages, videos, and updates along the way. Use a multi-channel communications strategy to reach people in more than one way.

  • Consultant Tip: Plan for the unexpected. Your campaign could go viral if a megastar or influencer gets on board. Be ready to react in real time and ride the wave to success.

Make It Easy

Donors want to click, give, share, and receive acknowledgement and campaign updates. Make the path to sharing your content simple and approachable both for your team and the public. 

Prioritize Stewardship

Plan stewardship well in advance of launch day so that you can thank donors along the way. Enlist ambassadors, staff, and volunteers to help with a letter writing campaign or thank-you video in addition to your regular tax receipt acknowledgement. 

  • Consultant Tip: Show the impact! Record a video capturing the excitement on a day of giving or the results of the gifts that have been made – check out this example of a personalized video I received when I made a contribution during a crowdfunding campaign.

Analyze

Debrief, learn, and adapt for future programs using quantitative and qualitative data. Create tracking mechanisms in advance of your campaign. Use solicitation codes and set up a campaign tracking sheet so you can understand which channels and outreach tactics were most successful. 

Crowdfunding takes effort, but can have an immediate impact on your organization and be incredibly satisfying when done correctly. Reach out today to learn more about how CFA can help your organization succeed in your crowdfunding and annual giving efforts.


Rob Ruchotzke

Rob Ruchotzke, Senior Consultant

Rob Ruchotzke focuses on annual giving strategy, development assessments, campaign feasibility studies, and campaign counsel. Rob comes to CFA with nearly a decade of annual giving experience in higher education institutions. Most recently, Rob served as the director of annual giving at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI), where he led multi-channel campaigns, developed crowdfunding platforms, managed annual giving vendors, and served as the strategy lead for UNI’s Day of Giving (#LivePurpleGiveGold).

A native of Camanche, Iowa, Rob holds a BA in Public Relations from the UNI and resides in Cedar Falls, Iowa.

Email Rob

How to Write a Fundraising Case Statement: 10 Steps

Your organization has an inspiring vision and is ready to raise big money to make it a reality, but you aren’t quite sure of the communications approach to donors. Would punchy, bold language add to your fundraising appeal or turn prospects away? Should you print hundreds of fancy brochures or create a campaign website? Do you need a theme separate from your annual fund or marketing slogan? This is where a fundraising case statement comes into play.

A case statement—also referred to as a case for support—is your best communication tool for a fundraising campaign. It indicates to prospective donors what you hope to accomplish with their philanthropic dollars in both a pragmatic and an emotional way. It also ensures that everyone on your campaign team—your executive director, board members, staff, and volunteers—is aligned with your messaging.

Tailor Your Messaging

Your case statement must be tailored to your brand, campaign, and, most importantly, your audience.

Consider the questions your audience will want to know:

  • What is your organization’s “big idea”?
  • Why does this idea matter, and who will it impact?
  • Why is your organization the right one to implement the big idea?
  • What will it take to reach success?
  • Why is now the right time?

10 Steps for Building Your Fundraising Case Statement for Support

Articulating your organization’s distinct values and vision is vital to raising money consistently and effectively. There are several steps that you can take regardless of the size of your organization or the scope of your campaign when building your case:

  1. Gather background. Reflect on your organization’s brand and strategic plan and how they integrate into your fundraising approach. If you have had a fundraising advisor conduct a campaign study, incorporate recommendations from the feasibility study report.
  2. Build a team. Host a kickoff meeting for a small team of internal and external stakeholders with whom you will collaborate as you develop content. Be proactive in asking for your team’s input and always be open to their feedback.
  3. State your timeline. Determine a timeline for content production. A case statement can take anywhere from two to six months to develop, design, and print.
  4. Determine structure. Decide what structure you think is best for your audience and whether to go digital first or have it professionally printed.
  5. Write an outline. I cannot overestimate how important an outline is to the case building process, especially for managing word count.
  6. Interview key figures. Campaign leadership, the people you serve, and notable community members will help you make your case.
  7. Create a memorable campaign theme. My most important piece of advice when developing a campaign theme is that it suggests to the donor how they can take the organization to the next level.
  8. Insist on an appealing design. Having a distinct look from everything else the organization is putting out will ensure the campaign is viewed as the special effort that it truly is.
  9. Use clear and compelling language. Communicate your organization’s primary campaign priorities and the impact that donated dollars will make.
  10. Make the ask. Bolster your conversations and grant proposals with philanthropic language throughout your case statement to reinforce the message that this effort is only possible through leading donations. Why not start with, “Join us”?

If you are interested to learn more about how CFA can help your organization succeed, please reach out.


Pressley Peters is an award-winning writer specializing in philanthropy and marketing. She has written for numerous CFA clients including the Entertainment Community Fund, Friends of St. Paul Public Library, Headlands Center for the Arts, Lundstrum Performing Arts, North Carolina Museum of Art, Project Angel Food, and United Theology Seminary. She is a graduate of Rhodes College and calls Dallas, Texas home. Pressley can be found at pressleypeters.com.

Donor Cultivation & Stewardship: Key Steps in the Donor Cycle

The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota is expanding its outdoor nature play adventure opportunities for children and families through philanthropy. The museum is a compelling example of how intentionally following the steps of a donor cycle – especially adding cultivation and stewardship strategies to your solicitation process – can reap larger gifts and repeat donors. 

Speaking of nature, you can think of a donor cycle as analogous to the water cycle of our planet, where rainwater feeds land, streams, and oceans, and the sun continues the process via evaporation. Just as the water cycle ensures the planet’s sustainability, following all the steps within the philanthropic gift cycle—donor identification, qualification, cultivation, solicitation, closure, and stewardship—can ensure the health of your nonprofit ecosystem. 

By following CFA’s Guide to the Major Gifts Cycle, nonprofits can shepherd donors through the stages of philanthropy to build sustainable, long-term relationships. While the major gifts cycle contains distinct steps, the stages of cultivation and stewardship encompass ongoing activities that are integral to retaining a donor network with recurring and increased gifts. Employing cultivation and stewardship strategies can allow your organization to execute a more predictable and sustainable fundraising plan.

Donor Cultivation Strategies

Cultivation is the process of relationship building with a donor or prospect leading up to an ask. Cultivation includes personal visits, calls, emails, and events to engage the prospect and help match their interests with the needs of your organization. In addition to the executive leadership and development staff, board members play a pivotal role in the cultivation process by helping to champion your mission. 

There are many ways to engage donor prospects through cultivation. A board member, executive director, or development officer can, for example, invite and accompany a prospect to an upcoming event and introduce them to the organization’s key constituents; organize a coffee or lunch with a prospect to share targeted updates on the organization’s programming and progress on strategic planning milestones; and/or send periodic formal communications, such as newsletters or annual reports, to prospects accompanied by a handwritten note for a personal touch. The cultivation stage can be lengthy and there is no need to rush it. There is a need, however, to track your moves. Consistently communicating the current status of each prospect as you progress through the gift cycle provides structure and consistency within your fundraising team.

Recommended Reading: How to Activate Your Strategic Plan for Fundraising Success

Stewardship Strategies

Stewardship refers to how an organization thanks donors and communicates how their generosity made an impact on the people and community an organization serves. While a prompt acknowledgment letter (mailed or electronic) is essential for tax reporting purposes, an organization can also engage with donors on a more personal level through handwritten notes, phone calls, donor appreciation events, and one-on-one meetings. Thoughtful gestures such as these are appreciated, especially with major gifts. 

Donors are attracted to visionary organizations and are personally rewarded when they can see the demonstrated impact of their contributions. Ask community members or other stakeholders who have been directly impacted by your organization to share their gratitude through a direct phone call or personal note to the donor. If your organization has completed a campaign to build or renovate facilities, invite donors to an insider tour. If you have created a donor wall or naming opportunity for their gift, invite donors to an unveiling. Personalized attention will show the measure of your gratitude, and staying in touch will keep a donor informed of their continued impact. Remember, your next gift is a well-stewarded one.

Donor Cultivation & Stewardship Case Study

The Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota (CMSM) is a one-of-a-kind museum, and its creative approach draws visitors from all over the Midwest. CMSM engaged CFA to conduct a Development Assessment as they sought a more sustainable platform for raising money. One of CFA’s recommendations was that board members become more invested in the relationship-building necessary to garner larger and repeat donations. Specifically, we suggested segmenting appeals into two seasons, adding a dynamic major gifts strategy, and hosting donor appreciation events. With CFA’s guidance, CMSM set forth a new leadership giving group, the Ignite Society, named after the driving force of CMSM’s mission “to ignite the curiosity of every child.”

CEO Lou Dickmeyer joined CMSM in 2019 and shepherded the organization through a pandemic closure and reopening. She said, “There’s so much support and passion for the Museum, it’s an easy ask, but we had not been sophisticated about telling our story. Our new Ignite Society has led us down a path where we more deeply engage our donors and increase conversation of what their dollars can do.”

As part of cultivation and stewardship efforts, CMSM offered a special donor event for Ignite Society members, a newsletter with behind-the-scenes details on exhibits and programs, and an in-person preview of the museum’s new exhibits. The Ignite Society grew to over 140 people within its first year.  

“Working with CFA has deepened my understanding of how important it is to cultivate relationships and keep donors informed of what we’re doing,” Dickmeyer added. “We now have a clear line of sight to what success can be and how to get there. They helped us ready ourselves for a bold and strategic move to the next level.”

It is exceedingly difficult to secure multiple gifts from the same person or organization without the personal touches involved in cultivation and stewardship. If you are eager to learn more about how CFA can help your organization succeed through cultivation and stewardship, please reach out.


Jake Muszynski, Head of Consulting & Principal, Midwest

Jake is a highly experienced fundraising and consulting professional with over 15 years of combined experience in the industry. He began his successful career in major gifts at higher education institutions and has since provided counsel to over 30 clients at CFA, where he currently serves as Principal.

In this role, Jake leads major projects across the United States, including campaign readiness and feasibility studies, campaign planning and counsel, and development assessments. He takes a holistic approach to fundraising, considering organizational health from all perspectives and applying a mix of soft skills and data-driven decision-making to each unique situation.

A native of Perham, Minnesota, Jake holds a bachelor’s degree in communication from Concordia College. He and his wife have two children and share a love of folk and jazz music.

Email Jake

How to Activate Your Strategic Plan for Fundraising Success

Reading your nonprofit strategic plan, I bet you will discover that philanthropy touches every section as it should. After all, a strategic plan identifies the impact an organization seeks to make along with the philanthropic resources required to achieve fundraising success. I would further wager that if you shared your plan with a major donor, it would inspire confidence in your organization and lead to deeper engagement and investment.

Benefits of Strategic Plans to Fundraising

Development professionals love strategic plans because they provide ready access to goal-oriented language for grant applications, solicitation letters, and prospect conversations. When I worked at The University of Chicago, my first initiative was our strategic plan which became our team’s field guide and provided metrics for which we could aim. Another benefit is volunteer engagement. When Board members or donors do not know how to engage in an organization, being a part of the strategic planning process allows them to learn more about the organization and align their passions and expertise with their needs.

What the Expert Says: Q&A with Kathy Graves

I talked with strategic planning expert and Creative Fundraising Advisors (CFA) Partner Kathy Graves of Parenteau Graves about how nonprofits can activate their strategic plans to help improve fundraising results. 

Liz Jellema: How do you recommend organizations measure development success within the strategic plan? 

Kathy Graves: First of all, development is only one facet of strategic planning. Secondly, while KPIs (key performance indicators) are important, numbers are not everything. The actual measurement of success is how many people maintain and deepen their engagement with and commitment to your organization as you live into your strategic plan. It helps to be more expansive in how you measure success. 

LJ: Should the strategic plan always push development to raise more dollars? 

KG: Most plans aim to raise more money, but that’s not the goal. The goal is to have an impact, to improve our world. It’s vital to name the result you seek before discussing how much to increase fundraising. Your strategy doesn’t have to be about raising more every year. It’s more important for philanthropic dollars to implement meaningful change. During the pandemic, some organizations saw new service areas grow exponentially and raised more dollars to deliver them. But many organizations are returning to or revisiting their original vision. For example, our human services clients find it important to stabilize lives by providing food and housing. Still, they are raising money to address systemic barriers that can lead to more significant permanent improvements for people. 

LJ: Many strategic plans are three or five years long. How do you recommend an organization’s Board and staff stay engaged and adjust for continuous improvement?

KG: Strategic planning is like personal training. You don’t stop exercising when you achieve your goal. Likewise, organizations cannot consider the strategic plan as a finished project and tie a bow on it. You must keep putting it at the center of your daily work. 

Ensure a few staff members are the key inside drivers—leaders who activate, monitor, and report progress. Everyone from entry staff to Board members owns the plan, but ultimately it needs key leadership to push it forward. 

The bottom line is that if you haven’t looked at the plan in three months, that’s a red flag. Set aside time monthly, quarterly, and annually for review. I also suggest that the plan be discussed at every Board meeting—share metrics and KPIs manageable for organizations to obtain and essential for organizational leaders to measure.

LJ: How can you use the plan to engage your major donors? 

KG: People want to give to success. One measurement of success is that you have a clear plan. Have confidence in your plan and show what you’ve accomplished.

A strategic plan is a terrific outreach tool. Utilize the plan as a runway for conversation. You might ask to sit down and share your progress with a prospect once you complete a one-year review. During the meeting, point to places where a prospect might provide dollars or expertise to help your organization reach its metrics and goals.

When you remain confident in your mission and plan, it will instill confidence in your donors that you can utilize their funds well. 

LJ: What formats have you seen work best for organizations to share their strategic plan? 

Do not send anyone a 28-page document! The operating plan can be long and detail-oriented, but that’s not what you’ll show most people. Brevity illustrates that you know what you’re doing and where your organization is going. Summarize your organization’s mission, vision, values, and goals on one page. I coach our clients to focus on three-to-five goals that are going to be the most critical drivers of success. 

Final Thoughts

Strategic plans are helpful when talking to prospects to illustrate that your organization has a plan and is acting on it. Are you prepared to share your plan with your Board and prospects? Reach out to CFA to learn more about our strategic planning services. We would enjoy helping your organization develop its next strategic plan. Contact us today!

Check out these sample nonprofit strategic plans:

The McNay | Cookie Cart | Hennepin Theatre Trust | Everybody Dance LA


Liz Jellema

Liz Jellema

Chief Operating Officer, CFA

Liz oversees CFA’s operations, culture, values, talent, marketing communications, and financial performance. Liz joined CFA from the University of Chicago where she served as Director of Operations and Strategic Initiatives for the Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation at the Booth School of Business. Liz enjoys translating strategy into growth for CFA’s portfolio of mission-driven clients.

Kathy Graves

Kathy Graves

Partner, Parenteau Graves

Kathy heads Parenteau Graves’s strategic planning. She is an award-winning writer, co-author, teacher, and recipient of the Changemaker Award from ARC Twin Cities. Prior to forming Parenteau Graves, Kathy served as marketing and public relations director for The Minnesota and Virginia Operas and on the staff of U.S. Senator Gary Hart. She also was the arts writer for the Southwest Journal for seven years and a Mondale Policy Fellow at the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.