Philanthropy Wired Newsletter

Philanthropy Wired June 2023

Philanthropy Wired June 2023

Biden Makes Historic Moves toward Environmental Justice EPA Seeks EJ Grantmakers and Worthy Projects

Cory Sinclair, Associate, S. Sutton & Associates Inc.

Environmentalism and Environmental Justice (EJ) have long been at odds with each other. In April 1970, when largely middle class and white Americans celebrated the first Earth Day by the millions, African-American sociologist Nathan Hare penned a scathing essay titled “Black Ecology,” in which he described the environmental realities of Black life in the United States and argued that those realities received little notice from mainstream environmentalists. While environmentalism works to preserve our natural resources and minimize the negative impacts of human activity on the planet, the EJ movement seeks to also establish an equitable distribution of both the benefits and burdens of the environment. EJ activism generally arises from an existing or imminent local issue, one with detrimental impacts on where people work and live. These EJ activists are mostly people of color and of limited means, who have grown frustrated that their concerns are not more widely recognized and addressed. A similar concern is playing out now in the field of artificial intelligence.

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Knowledge Speaks, Wisdom Listens

Jeff Comfort, Executive Associate and Strategic Advisor S. Sutton & Associates Inc.

“Knowledge Speaks, But Wisdom Listens.” This quote is usually attributed to philosopher extraordinaire, Jimi Hendrix. I’m in my fourth decade working in planned giving, and I’m more convinced than ever that listening is the single most important skill for planned giving officers. Strong technical skills may be helpful in closing some gifts. Strong listening skills result in gifts of a lifetime.

Read more from Jeff on tips for successful planned giving strategies.

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Jeff Comfort is a seasoned professional with 38 years of gift planning experience. Currently serving as vice president of principal gifts and gift planning at the Oregon State University Foundation (OSUF), Jeff provides strategic leadership to the gift planning program that assists donors in making deferred, assets-based or complex gifts to the university. Year in and year out, gift planning provides over 25% of total fundraising at OSUF.

Jeff spent 18 years at Georgetown University, where he oversaw university-wide gift planning efforts resulting in approximately $500 million of gift commitments and receipts in his tenure. Before arriving at Georgetown in 1995, he spent 11 years in Denver directing the gift planning program for the National Jewish Center for Immunology and Respiratory Medical (now National Jewish Health).

As a volunteer leader of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners (formerly the National Committee on Planned Giving), Jeff served as president, chaired the 10th National Conference on Planned Giving and was a member of the NCPG board of directors for five years. Additionally, he was a member of the ethics committee and chaired the task force on gift valuation. Jeff chaired the CASE National Conference on Planned Giving for 10 years from 2008 to 2018.

Fundraising Area of Expertise: Planned and Legacy Gifts

Sector Experience: Education and Healthcare

Jeff’s Fundraising Must Have: Prospects

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Planned and Legacy Gifts

Planned and legacy gifts often represent the largest gift of an individual’s lifetime and may be through gifts of appreciated assets such as stocks, bonds, real estate and other non-liquid assets or by will or bequest. An important component of any evolving development program seeking to create a pipeline of support at every level is a robust and sophisticated approach to encouraging planned and legacy gifts.

Raising Sights

S. Sutton & Associates Inc. will provide direction to enable your organization to effectively engage your supporters in complex gift conversations, raising their sights and increasing the impact they can have on your mission.

We offer advice and counsel to develop and maintain a program for planned and legacy giving including:

  • Prospect identification
  • Staff structure and processes
  • Direct marketing
  • Gift accounting for complicated asset transfers, including tax requirements and restrictions
  • Recognition and stewardship programs
  • Use of volunteer and expert advisory boards
  • Training for staff and volunteers

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Pikesville Armory Foundation

Capital Campaign

S. Sutton & Associates Inc. is honored to have been selected to serve as fundraising counsel for the Pikesville Armory Foundation’s (PAF) first Capital Campaign. Initial steps will be to conduct a feasibility study, development program review, and SWOT analysis, resulting in the development of a two-year campaign plan. Senior Associates Warren Davis, Sherryl Fisher and Lupe Ramos-Silva comprise the Innovation Team assembled for the project.

The estimated budget for the redevelopment of Armory Place is $90 million, to be raised through philanthropic support from individuals, foundations and corporations in the greater Baltimore community, the state of Maryland, the region and nationally, and through federal, state, and Baltimore County grants, all incentivized by significant tax credits created by the project.


Built in 1903, the Pikesville Armory was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1985 as a remarkable example of 20th Century landscape and architectural composition. Located in Pikesville, a bedroom community of Baltimore, Maryland, the Armory campus is comprised of 14 acres, including approximately 225,000 square feet of buildings.

The historic Pikesville Armory was decommissioned in 2016 and shortly thereafter Maryland Governor Larry Hogan appointed a Commission to consult with the Pikesville community on future uses for the Armory. Over a two-year period of community meetings, focus groups, interviews, and an online survey with over 1500 respondents, the Commission agreed on a unanimous vision of the Pikesville Armory as a unique community asset that should be held in the public trust to benefit Pikesville and the surrounding area’s diverse community.

The Commission envisioned a multi-use venue for recreation, cultural arts, historic preservation, and community development and engagement, which will also serve as a catalyst for the economic revitalization of Pikesville.

The non-profit Pikesville Armory Foundation was created to carry out the vision and the redevelopment of this unique and historic architectural gem and beautiful campus grounds, and to lead the public-private partnership with Baltimore County, and the State of Maryland.

The completed project will be known as Armory Place. It will continue to provide a meeting place for veterans and will include a large indoor recreation space for basketball and other sports, a library branch and senior center, performance venues, event and meeting spaces, a café, classroom and studio space, an incubator hub, a Boys & Girls Club branch, and a public school Culinary Arts program. The grounds will include public art, walking paths, playing fields, a large playground, pickleball courts, a Veterans Memorial garden, and a park that will host the local Farmers Market and outdoor performances.

This once-in-a-generation opportunity launched with PAF, development partner Seawall Company, and S. Sutton & Associates Inc., serving as fundraising counsel.

S. Sutton & Associates Inc. is a global network of consultants providing customized Innovation Teams of subject experts with specific technical expertise to help nonprofit organizations and philanthropists maximize their philanthropic efforts and achieve significant impact. This month we welcome:

Charmain Emerson, Associate

A seasoned professional, Charmain Emerson helps people realize their real story. She strives to empower authenticity and inclusivity to drive economic opportunities. She is a passionate communications leader/strategist with lived experience and professional expertise that have organically extended into facilitating community consultations, DEI board governance, stakeholder relations, brand reputation management, and media relations.

Charmain co-founded the Black Opportunity Fund, a charitable organization creating economic and social change across Canada, and through her own agency she has advised some of Canada’s leading corporations as well as vital public sector organizations serving Canada’s most vulnerable citizens. Clients and colleagues describe her as an energetic and motivational collaborator, and problem solver who is committed to delivering positive outcomes.

Entering the field as a broadcast journalist with the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC), Rogers and Global, Charmain later served as the Legislative Communications Advisor for the Minister of Culture and Communications Ontario and held Director of Communications roles for multiple for and nonprofit entities, including the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Charmain volunteers extensively serving on the Board of Canada’s fastest-growing hospital network, Trillium Health Partners Foundation, Canada’s iconic Soulpepper Theatre Company, and the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion.

A graduate of McMaster University, Charmain holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts, English and Humanities. Read more about Charmain.

Roger Ali, Senior Associate

With more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Roger D. Ali is a seasoned professional with deep and broad experience as a fundraising executive, administrator, and consultant, committed to the industry and the discipline, as exemplified by his recent election as the Chair-Elect of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Global.

Roger is a major gifts strategist with a proven track record of leading teams and comprehensive fundraising and marketing programs to raise $120 million+, including several capital and endowment campaigns. Some of his previous experience has included: President & CEO, Niagara Health Foundation, Vice President, Development, Hamilton Health Sciences Foundation and Executive Director, Bishop Strathan School Foundation.

Roger also holds a Chartered Director (C. Dir) designation in Governance from the DeGroote School of Business, McMaster University; an MBA from Athabasca University as well as a Post Graduate Certificate in Administration and Management and is a Certified Fundraising Executive since 2000. He has continued executive level education at Harvard and Stanford Universities, and is the past President of the AFP Golden Horseshoe Chapter, where he was awarded the Recipient of Outstanding Leadership Award in 2017. Read more about Roger.

North America

Philanthropy Wired Newsletter

Philanthropy Wired: January 2023

Philanthropy Wired: January 2023

New Year, New Perspective, Inspiration and Evolution

Needs, wants, desires, and yes, sometimes fantasies. The new year brings with it the opportunity to evaluate and reframe, plan, and execute. The question for most organizations at any stage is what’s next, what can be accomplished, and what’s needed to bridge the divide between the current and the desired state.

For many nonprofits and NGO’s, the composition of the dollars raised is the metric and the inspiration to evolve, for example, building on direct mail to establish or enhance major and principal gift programs. But, what’s realistic and attainable? A Fundraising Maturity Analysis can provide valuable insights to help you set course.

Stages of Maturity
Nonprofits and NGO’s maturity level can be defined as:

Focused on gaining operational stability and sustainability, while transforming its fundraising capabilities via its process, practice, people, perspective, and tools.

Focused on operational growth, while integrating fundraising tactics such as peer-to-peer networking, donor analytics, direct marketing, donor segmentation and pipeline building as a means for continued development.

Focused on operational and strategic expansion with sophisticated processes and practices for charitable brand-building, while efficiently using its tools and people to achieve the same.

Fundraising Maturity Analysis
A snapshot analysis of fundraising within an organization in relation to specific measurement areas defines the maturity level. An internal view of fundraising can also serve as a diagnostic assessment of the divide between the current and desired state and what’s realistic and attainable.

An organization’s maturity can be delineated using the following measurement areas/factors defined as:

Process – A systematic approach of structuring an organization’s activities as it pertains to fundraising. In short, it relates to an integrated set of activities that manages the life cycle of a donor within an institution.

Practice – Specific activities/events that an organization performs to attract or sustain gift-giving by donors. Examples of activities include a direct solicitation for gifts, donor recognition, events etc.

People – An organization’s talent pool both in terms of skill set and capacity needed to meet fundraising objectives.

Perspective – An organization’s fundraising ideology surrounding key questions such as – What is the approach to fundraising from prime-donors? What is an acceptable condition or source of giving? What is the organization’s charitable impact narrative?

Tools – Systems, standards, and procedures in place that help drive efficiency and proficiency in fundraising activities.

Whether your organization has foundational, evolving, or optimized maturity, a careful audit and analysis of measurement areas and factors and an assessment of corresponding maturity can help to set priorities, strategies, tactics, and timeframe to achieve the next evolutionary stage, and indeed, feed a healthy cycle of inspiration and evolution.

If you would like to explore how we can help you move your organization from one evolutionary stage of maturity to the next, please consider a complimentary consultation.

Wishing all health, success, inspiration, evolution, and a year of positive heartfelt experiences,

Susan Sutton

Weengushk Film Institute: Fundraising Campaign Feasibility Study and Strategic Plan

Weengushk Film Institute (WFI) is a worldclass media arts and artist-focused film and television-training centre, dedicated to unlocking the creative potential of Indigenous youth. While celebrating and sharing their voices, these emerging Indigenous artists learn market-leading and life skills as they begin their path towards inspired and sustainable futures. Through an understanding of tradition, culture and identity, WFI envisions the collection, preservation and representation of new creative voices. The development and recognition of Indigenous youth at WFI supports the important contribution of Indigenous stories to the Canadian arts landscape. WFI is the first program of its kind to be accredited by a Canadian University, and proud of their partnership with Brock University.

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Here’s what our partners say about us…

“This was a top-notch project from beginning to end. Completing the work in short timeframe was so helpful to our small organization and every benchmark was met along the way. Having consultants from outside of our industry gave us a fresh external perspective on our work, which helped us answer some of the big questions we wrestle with. Plus, the team was thoughtful and very responsive. I’ve been involved in other strategic planning initiatives as both and ED and a board member and S. Sutton & Associates Inc. delivered more value in a fraction of the time and for less cost than anything I’ve worked on before.”

Abby Goldstein
President & Executive Director, Public Radio Program Directors Association

With more than 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Cory Sinclair specializes in Donor and Constituent Engagement. Previous experience includes work with UCLA Performing Arts, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Habitat for Humanity, the Hollywood Food Coalition, and several Los Angeles based social service nonprofits. In the for-profit arena Cory spent several years in the film industry as a writer and in production.

Cory holds an interfield Ph.D. in music and nonprofit management from Claremont Graduate University. His research interests include cultural policy and the relationship between philanthropy and public-private partnerships.

Fundraising Area of Expertise: Cory’s core expertise is in Donor and Constituent Engagement. He also has experience in Advancement Services and Project Management.

Sector Experience: Education, Arts & Culture, Community Based Membership and Advocacy.

Cory’s Fundraising Must Have: Innovative use of public funding, when possible, to stimulate community interest and lay the foundation for private financial support.

The U.S. Inflation Reduction Act Calls on the Nonprofit Sector to Think Creatively

Cory Sinclair, Associate, S. Sutton & Associates Inc.

U.S. government spending is often subject to the political climate, with the budgets of federal agencies fluctuating from one Congress to another. This requires nonprofit organizations to keep a close eye on current events, study recent funding trends, and take note of which agencies are receiving money and what types of programs, organizations, and collaborations they are likely to support.

Now that President Joe Biden has signed the Inflation Reduction Act into law, the federal government will make major investments in healthcare, domestic energy production, and the environment. More than a dozen federal agencies will receive funding, with the majority of the direct appropriations going to three of them: the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). These agencies will all move quickly to implement the provisions of the legislation.

This presents opportunities. Nonprofits should brainstorm about possible projects and programs that may pique the interest of one or more of the federal agencies. “Innovation has never been more important for environmental science,” according to EPA’s website. This sentiment extends to other agencies as well, where innovation grants, prizes, and programs are on offer.

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Development Program Review and Expansion Strategies

The competitive environment for philanthropic dollars increases expectations for performance and forces regular re-examination of the entire fundraising enterprise. S. Sutton & Associates Inc.’s philanthropic consulting team can work with you to assess the overall effectiveness of your program and opportunities for expansion.

Comprehensive Review of Development

Organizations in steady state or embarking on an expansion of fundraising efforts need to examine how well current approaches have been working. How your fundraising program has performed in the past will inform strategies for the future.

S. Sutton & Associates Inc. starts by reviewing your organization’s historic results. Our consultants interview stakeholders, development team members and institutional leaders to better understand the strengths and weaknesses of your current fundraising program.

With this information, we provide feedback on staffing, organizational structure, resource investment, program initiatives, policies, procedures, products, staff and departmental structure, and integration to ensure the maximum return on investment and elevated performance of your fundraising program. Learn more.

Schedule a Complimentary Consultation

S. Sutton & Associates Inc. is a global network of consultants providing customized Innovation Teams of subject experts with specific technical expertise to help nonprofit organizations and philanthropists maximize their philanthropic efforts and achieve significant impact. This month we welcome:

Rob Donelson, Executive Associate

With more than 40 years of advancement experience in the higher education and healthcare sectors in three countries, Rob specializes in: Development Program Review and Expansion Strategies. Some of his previous experience has included: VP, Development & Alumni Relations, Wilfrid Laurier University; Executive Director, Development & Alumni Relations, University College Cork, Ireland; and Executive Director of Advancement, University of Aberdeen, Scotland.

Rob graduated from the University of Waterloo (St. Jerome’s College) with a BA in English and History. Acknowledged for his leadership in the area of charitable accountability, Rob led the first registered charity in Canada to earn the Ethical Fundraising License and the first university to earn the Standards Accreditation Trustmark from Imagine Canada. He has served on the board of the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education. Rob was named the Outstanding Fundraising Professional by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Golden Horseshoe Chapter, and received the Mission Legacy Award of the St. Joseph’s Health System. Read more about Rob.

Sterling Garcia, Associate

With more than 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Sterling Garcia has served as Director of Development for Florida State University and the University of Florida, and as Major Gifts Officer for UnidosUS, the largest nonprofit Hispanic/Latino civil rights organization in the United States.

Sterling graduated from the University of Hartford with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration and from Florida State University with a master’s degree in Higher Education Administration with a minor in Institutional Advancement. Sterling also holds a Certificate in Nonprofit Management, Board Governance & Community Leadership from Alvernia University. Sterling is also a decorated veteran, having served as a United Stated Marine, receiving several awards including the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement medal and two Humanitarian Service medals. Read more about Sterling.

Ann Hordylan, Associate

With more than 19 years of design and construction Project Management experience, Ann understands the unique challenges for nonprofits when undertaking new builds, renovations, restorations and relocations as evidenced by her work with H&M Canada, Katz Group Canada, The City of Brampton and Massey Hall.

In addition to Ann’s practical experiences, Ann also holds a Diploma from Humber College in Interior Design and has undertaken Project Management at Ryerson University in Toronto. Read more about Ann.

Helen Grafton, Junior Associate

With more than 5 years of experience in marketing and communications within the nonprofit sector, Helen Grafton specializes in social media management, project/event management and content creation.

Helen’s expertise includes marketing and development of healthcare and higher education institutions. Some of her previous experience includes multiple roles at Johns Hopkins Hospital and the Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore, Maryland. She began her nonprofit fundraising career in the Office of Development and Alumni Relations at Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing. Helen graduated from Towson University with a Bachelor of Science in Mass Communication. Read more about Helen.

North America

East and South Asia


Philanthropy Wired Newsletter

Philanthropy Wired: August 2022

Know Your Donor – Due Diligence to Decipher the Dark Side and Dirty Dollars

The news is replete with examples of the dark alleys of today, enabled by the Dark Web, unscrupulous crowd funding sites and “reputable” institutions.

A massive leak from one of the world’s biggest private banks, Credit Suisse, has exposed the hidden wealth of clients involved in torture, drug trafficking, money laundering, corruption, and other serious crimes. Details of accounts linked to 30,000 Credit Suisse clients all over the world are contained in the leak, which unmasks the beneficiaries of more than 100bn Swiss francs (£80bn) held in one of Switzerland’s best-known financial institutions. The leak points to widespread failures of due diligence by Credit Suisse, despite repeated pledges over decades to weed out dubious clients and illicit funds.

They include a human trafficker in the Philippines, a Hong Kong stock exchange boss jailed for bribery, a billionaire who ordered the murder of his Lebanese pop star girlfriend and executives who looted Venezuela’s state oil company, as well as corrupt politicians from Egypt to Ukraine.

One Vatican-owned account in the data was used to spend €350m (£290m) in an allegedly fraudulent investment in London property that is at the centre of an ongoing criminal trial of several defendants, including a cardinal.

Due diligence is not only for new clients. Banks are required to continually reassess existing customers. The 2017 report said Credit Suisse screened customers at least every three years and as often as once a year for the riskiest clients.

In recent years the philanthropic sector has been susceptible to major financial crimes. Risk assessment and corresponding services are important for nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations to assure donors are known and the dark side and dirty dollars can be deciphered.

This month we profile Junior Associate Ammna Nasser, an expert in global risk management, antimoney laundering and high-risk sectors for the Royal Bank of Canada. Ammna’s article on Risk Assessment Services deals with legal, financial, and reputational risks for the sector, Know Your Customer (KYC) and Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD), and practical steps that can be taken now. The philanthropic sector offers significant benefits to the most vulnerable. With good due diligence and monitoring efforts, charitable projects can be conducted in a safer fashion without threat to the integrity of the charitable entity.

Good luck and start monitoring, and if you need our support, we are here, as Risk Management and Fundraising Governance is but one of 16 service offerings provided by S. Sutton & Associates Inc. and our stellar Associates, including Ammna!

Together we’re better,


Ontario Science Centre: Customer Relationship Management Data Migration

On September 26, 1969, a radio signal from over 1.5 billion light-years away struck a circuit that raised the curtain at the Ontario Science Centre’s official opening. As a gift to the people of Ontario to mark Canada’s Centennial, the provincial government commissioned architect Raymond Moriyama in 1964 to design the Ontario Science Centre—one of the first interactive science museums in the world. The Science Centre has since welcomed more than 54 million visitors.

Today the Ontario Science Centre is one of Ontario’s most significant cultural attractions, welcoming an estimated one million visitors each year, 20% from outside of Ontario, and 13% from outside of Canada. The Centre has 58,000 active members, hosts 165,000 Ontario students each year, 77,000 visitors annually through community access programs, and has become more than a destination. The Science Centre is a space where visitors of all ages can learn-through-play and discover ways to think like a scientist every day.

Guided by the belief that science, technology and innovation will help us shape a better future, the Ontario Science Centre continues to lead the way internationally with an incredible team of scientists, educators and exhibition creators who conceive, develop, design and build world-class exhibitions, award-winning educational programs and innovative science learning experiences.

As a not-for-profit agency of the Government of Ontario, the Science Centre relies on provincial support as well as generous individuals, corporations and foundations that share a commitment to science and education for additional operating support.

Junior Associate Natalia Branco and Associate Eduardo Araujo will comprise the Innovation Team conducting a data migration project from the legacy customer relationship management system, in use for the last 20 years, to Salesforce.

Northwest Arkansas Equality, Inc.: Development of a Major Gift Program

Northwest Arkansas Equality, Inc. (NWA Equality) is a community education, advocacy, resource, and service organization working to achieve full equality while creating an environment that embraces and supports the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community of Northwest Arkansas. NWA Equality’s services, events, and partnerships impact over 30,000 people annually throughout the greater Ozarks region.

We welcome back Northwest Arkansas Equality Inc. as a repeat client, interested in building upon the strategic plan that we developed last year. Associate Linda Boedeker led a four-month project to develop a more robust major gift program, including the development of a case for support, refreshed digital properties, collateral materials, tools and processes, and board and volunteer training sessions.

Public Radio Program Directors Association: Strategic Planning

We are pleased to welcome the Public Radio Program Directors Association (PRPD) as a new client. PRPD is a membership organization that advocates for high-quality programming and provides resources for public media program directors and staff, content managers, and independent producers. Members representing over 800 public media outlets—including national networks, local stations, and independent enterprises—benefit by sharing professional expertise and knowledge of industry trends, enabling them to boost the quality of their programming and operations.

PRPD seeks to be a leader in the industry, serving as a beacon for best practices and guidance to station leaders, providing the best possible service to their local audiences. Given the changes in the listening platforms and historical revenue model for the industry at large, PRPD saw an opportunity to look inward and determine their role in the public media landscape and how it can best position itself for mission service. The PRPD staff and volunteer leadership recognized that to remain relevant and financially sustainable, PRPD needed to examine every aspect of its mission and operations and identify who they seek to serve and how best to do so. At the crux of this goal is growing and diversifying the association’s funding streams and improving program services for the target audience.

The four-month strategic planning project was designed to provide an internal and external review by the Innovation Team members Randy Gorod, Katherine Scott and Lauren Bergquist to gain deep understanding of the issues of greatest concern to PRPD, successes and challenges, vision for the future role in the public media landscape, previous strategic plan, and funding model, all against the legacy mission statement. This inquiry informed questions explored through an extensive stakeholder analysis and consultation, an environmental scan of member organizations and a SWOT Analysis, with the goal to grow and diversify the organization’s funding streams, improve program services for the target audience(s), and set ambitious but achievable goals and objectives.

The strategic planning project was designed to draw conclusions whether PRPD’s current mission statement, infrastructure, funding/fundraising models, and offerings met the new goals and objectives, and revise accordingly, to achieve the objectives of the new strategic plan, and corresponding operations plan.

Principles of equity, diversity, access, inclusion, and anti-racism guided the entire project in its design and facilitation.

AIR Artists: Fundraising Mentorship and Coaching, Case for Support

AIR Artists is an innovative artists-in-residence program which helps to revitalize small towns by creating dynamic arts and crafts scenes celebrating the regions’ natural resources. By developing unused properties and building environmentally friendly residences and studios, AIR Artists creates a vibrant and creative community in which artists live and work and visitors learn about the arts while exploring the city’s rich culture.

Artists apply for a two-year program, during which they have the space and time they need to explore new ideas within their chosen mediums. Architect Steven Bingler has designed comfortable eco-friendly Shibusa cottages that blend with the landscape and provide a soothing respite from the outside world.

Supported by grants, philanthropy and earned income, each AIR site is independently funded and self-sustaining. Participating artists donate a portion of their work to the AIR art collection. Artists in residence and invited guests conduct workshops, and on-site retail stores offer artists’ wares for sale.

The inaugural AIR Artists site, Andalusia, Alabama, a former textile town, celebrates the textile arts.

During the summer of 2022 Senior Associate Debbie Flinn is providing fundraising mentorship and coaching and will collaborate on the development of a Case for Support.

Ammna Nasser, Junior Associate, S. Sutton & Associates Inc.

Know Your Customer (KYC) Due Diligence is an imperative first step when looking to establish a long-term relationship with a client; one which contributes to the success of a business operating in any industry. In the philanthropic sector, it plays a key role when prospecting and securing new donors, in addition to periodic Enhanced Due Diligence (EDD) on existing donor individuals and/or entities, to ensure potential risks are averted. Risks could range from: Legal (i.e. would engaging with a supporter, or accepting a donation expose the organization to legal or regulatory challenges?), Financial (i.e. could receiving a gift affect the organization’s ability to raise funding in future?), and Reputational (i.e. is the funding unethical, or inappropriate given the organization’s mission, or by the standards of the stakeholder community? What is the source of the gift?).

Given the rise of a global network, donors can range from companies and/or people who operate in a high risk sector, derive over fifty percent of their revenue from a ‘high risk’ or sanctioned country, or simply are Politically Exposed Persons (PEP).

First, the philanthropic entity should establish a comprehensive and clear risk appetite, and design parameters or a ‘risk grid’ to categorize an individual and/or entity within or outside of risk. Once a trigger list is solidified, if met by a prospect, a further review could be mandated. A trigger list could often comprise unclear source(s) of wealth, complex organization structures, international prospects, and perhaps, involvement in known crimes and/or scandals. Then, a program should be established making note of pertinent policies and procedures, which acknowledge the company’s mandate, and abide by the laws of the jurisdiction in which it is operating. This should be followed by regular team meetings to obtain valuable feedback and finesse the process.

Although most organizations may not have sophisticated software to conduct KYC or due diligence searches, we live in an information era, therefore resources can be readily accessed on the internet using open source intelligence gathering techniques in the absence of expensive memberships, and subscriptions. Open source intelligence (OSINT) is the practice of collecting information from published or otherwise publicly available sources and can be used to identify significant high risk information.

To start the process, the following are initial steps a prospect researcher should employ when conducting OSINT. First and foremost, does this organization exist legally? Try a simple google search using the registered “name of entity”, “address”, “phone number” and “email address”, always using “. This allows the researcher to target their search. If it is a local Canadian prospect, and a public company, you can use Sedar while Open Corporates enables us to identify most registered companies in the world.

Second, has this organization, beneficial owner, or the prospect donor individual been involved in any form of crime; one which may have attracted widespread media attention? The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists is an excellent resource. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, legally International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Inc., is an independent global network of 280 investigative journalists and over 100 media organizations spanning more than 100 countries. You can visit it here: International Consortium of Investigative Journalists:

Some other useful resources include: Transparency International, Interpol Wanted Persons, United Nations Sanctioned Persons

Learning the basics of verification, conducting an investigation efficiently, and within a given time frame is pertinent. Some things to remember include: ensure your research is verified – one way to do so is to use diverse and reputable sources. Storing a donors’ information appropriately is key, and should abide by Data Protection laws.

The philanthropic sector offers significant benefits to the most vulnerable. However in recent years it has been susceptible to major financial crimes. But, with good due diligence and monitoring efforts, charitable projects can be conducted in a safer fashion without threat to the integrity of the entity. Good luck, and start monitoring!

Ammna Nasser is a skilled social researcher and published author with a focus on identity politics, counter-terrorism, risk and financial crimes. She has demonstrated strong analytic skill sets across the financial services, consulting, higher education and academic research sectors in the Middle East, West Africa, Europe, and North America.

Currently serving as an analyst in Global Risk Management, Anti-Money Laundering (High- Risk Sectors) for the Royal Bank of Canada, her experience also includes serving as the Middle East & Northern Africa (MENA) Liaison Officer for the King’s College London Think Tank where she monitored existing and established new partnerships with journalists, diplomats and professors, and Liaison & Research Officer for the South Asia and Middle East Forum, U.K., addressing geopolitical conflicts in the Middle East, composing briefing reports for the British Parliament, and reporting the forum from the House of Commons in London for Diplomatic Magazine.

Ammna holds a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in International Development from Middlesex University, U.K., and a Master of Arts in International Relations from King’s College London’s renowned Department of War Studies.

Ammna’s volunteer work includes serving the Royal Bank of Canada Diversity and Inclusion Committee, the C.D. Howe Institute & WOMAN ACT, the United Nations Association-Canada branch, and Global Service Learning of Amizade, in Jukwa Village Ghana.

Ammna has published extensively including, The Era of ‘Dirty Data’: Understanding Who Said What and How, for the Women in Security Committee of ASIS International, the worlds largest membership organization for security management professionals.

Fundraising Area of Expertise: Ammna is an expert in Risk Management and Fundraising Governance, Donor and Constituent Engagement.

Sector Experience: Community Based Advocacy and Membership Organizations, including Micro-Finance, and Higher Education.

Ammna’s Fundraising Must Have: Strategic vision, sustainability, and a commitment to transparency to all stakeholders.

Risk Management and Fundraising Governance

As donors increasingly demand tangible assurance their money is well spent and regulators question the costs of fundraising, nonprofit executives and their boards need to know how to build trust in their organization. We bring knowledge about “best practices” in fundraising and are fully conversant with standards that exist to assess them.

We can work with you to understand risks associated with various fundraising approaches. We can train your staff on effective processes and we can develop tools for your Board to gain and maintain confidence that your organization’s reputation is in good hands.

Providing Direction

Risk management is essential for any organization and S. Sutton & Associates Inc. understands reputational risk around fundraising operations and results presents particular vulnerability.

With that in mind our senior consultants with years in the arena also understand that with competing demands Boards need simple methods to assess risk, carefully considered solutions and if necessary, strategic remediation to restore trust.

In keeping with the methodology of the firm, our experts are able to provide a complete audit and assessment of your current state, articulating potential vulnerabilities and actionable strategies to avoid issues. Guidance and training for executive leadership staff is available to establish a framework going forward.

If the Board is placed in a position to consider remediation, our experts provide actionable steps for the organization to deploy and guidance for short term crisis communications and long term confidence building measures.

To explore how we can help, please contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Here’s what our partners say about us…

“I’ve spoken with Susan Sutton, and have found her to be sincere, knowledgeable, and very easy to connect with. In a time when change is an everyday inevitability, S. Sutton & Associates Inc. offers help for camps and conference centres as they navigate the often-difficult areas of Strategic Planning and Change Management. “

Sharon Fraess,
National Director, Christian Camping International/Canada

Earlier this year we celebrated an anniversary, as it was just five years ago in April that S. Sutton & Associates Inc. was launched and incorporated in Canada and the U.S. I could wax philosophic about the pain, the gain, the teachable moments, lessons learned, and all that has been derived from the process of moving from a start-up to an early-stage, and now to a growth-stage company. Long story short we have built a viable enterprise that is moving to its next stage of evolution.

The Innovation Team Model differentiates us, our service offerings are our table stakes, but it is the talent assembled, the Associates, who define our position in the marketplace. A huge thanks goes to the entire network of Associates who have made this possible!

This month we are also pleased to welcome four new Associates who bring a depth and breadth of experience and expertise. With these wonderful additions this brings our network of Associates to just over 100 based in the U.S. and Canada, enabling us to curate and customize just the right Innovation Teams for our clients.

With that in mind we are pleased to profile three new and one returning client, who are benefiting from our unique model, the U.S.- based Public Radio Program Directors Association, AIR Artists, and Northwest Arkansas Equality Inc. and the Toronto- based Ontario Science Centre.

Stay tuned for more to come in the coming weeks. Wishing all a terrific fall!


Jeffrey Comfort, Executive Associate Strategic Advisor

Jeff has 38 years of gift planning experience. He currently is vice president of principal gifts and gift planning at the Oregon State University Foundation (OSUF), where he provides strategic leadership to the gift planning program that assists donors in making deferred, assets-based or complex gifts to the university. Year in and year out, gift planning provides over 25% of total fundraising at OSUF.

He spent 18 years at Georgetown University, where he oversaw university-wide gift planning efforts resulting in approximately $500 million of gift commitments and receipts in his tenure.

Before arriving at Georgetown in 1995, he spent 11 years in Denver directing the gift planning program for the National Jewish Medical and Research Center. As a volunteer leader of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners (formerly the National Committee on Planned Giving), Jeff served as president, chaired the 10th National Conference on Planned Giving and was a member of the NCPG board of directors for five years. Additionally, he was a member of the ethics committee and chaired the task force on gift valuation. Jeff chaired the CASE National Conference on Planned Giving for 10 years from 2008 to 2018.

Area of Expertise: Jeffrey’s core expertise is in Planned and Legacy Gifts, Principal and Major Gifts

Experience: Education, Healthcare

Fundraising Must Have: Prospects

Braden Swab, Associate

With more than 10 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Braden Swab (P.Eng., PMP) specializes in project management of capital projects. Currently serving as Project Leader with Engineering Ministries International Canada (EMI Canada), Braden has served nonprofit organizations in Canada, Mexico, Honduras, Guatemala, Costa Rica, Haiti, Uganda, Rwanda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Cambodia, Albania, Burundi, the U.S. and South Africa, leading teams of architects and engineers to design schools, medical facilities, children’s homes, churches, and youth camps.

Braden graduated from the University of Calgary with a bachelor’s degree in Geomatics Engineering. He is a licensed Professional Engineer (P.Eng.) in Alberta Canada and a certified Project Management Professional (PMP).

Area of Expertise: Braden’s core expertise is in Project Management, Donor and Constituent Engagement, including videography and photography, and Capital Project Fundraising

Experience: Education, Healthcare, International Development

Fundraising Must Have: An unmistakable passion for your “why” and a clearly articulated vision for the future your impact will create.

Kyle Tan, Junior Associate

Kyle is a core team member of the firm serving our back-office operations, with responsibility for monthly performance plans, financial projections and forecasting, and vendor relations. A sophomore at the University of Toronto in the Rotman Commerce program, Kyle plans to pursue a specialization in Management, with a dual focus in Finance and Marketing, along with a minor in Economics. Outside the classroom, Kyle is involved in the Rotman Commerce Students’ Association, the Rotman Commerce Consulting Association, and the Filipino Students’ Association of Toronto.

Area of Expertise: Advancement Services

Experience: Education, Community Based Membership & Advocacy

Fundraising Must Have: Solid back-office operation

Ali Caner, Associate

With a decade-long marketing career, Ali’s experience includes a wide array of marketing sub-disciplines including content marketing (strategy, production, editing), paid and organic traffic acquisition, lead generation, social media management and business development. Ali also possesses expertise in events management, data analytics, corporate giving, and project management. Passionate about how technology and data can be integrated in a long-term marketing strategy to improve performance and help clients attain their business objectives, Ali has helped for public, private and nonprofit organizations of various sizes and in multiple sectors to fully implement and harness the power of technology and data in their marketing efforts.

Ali studied Social and Political Sciences at Sabanci Universitesi in Istanbul Turkey and holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. In addition to English, Ali speaks Turkish.

Fundraising Area of Expertise: Ali’s core expertise is in donor and constituent engagement, including traffic acquisition, content marketing and data analytics.

Sector Experience: Public, private, and nonprofit organizations in healthcare, tourism, electronics, and insurance

Fundraising Must Have: A strong understanding of your target audience ––no matter your cause; patience and strategy to devise a long-term relationship with them; and utilizing data to make informed decisions.

North America



Philanthropy Wired Newsletter

Philanthropy Wired: December 2021

Symptoms Versus Causes: The Faustian Bargain Donors Face and the Rubik’s Cube of Impact Assessment

World Food Program to Elon Musk- show us the money ($6 billion). Elon Musk to the World Food Program – show me the results (solve world hunger).

This diatribe played out on social media recently exemplifies the conundrum. Donors are barraged daily with solicitations of every ilk, And, each donor has various objectives regarding what they want to accomplish with their philanthropy. Most fall into two categories, real-time direct service to address acute needs, or support designed to address root causes or systemic change. Throw in how to identify and assess impact and you have a Rubik’s cube, with not a straight line to be found, to give donors or nonprofits/NGO’s a clear path forward.

To put this quandary in the starkest of terms, today in Afghanistan food insecurity and an economic implosion are creating another Faustian bargain, as families sell their young daughters to make ends meet in the short term. While the long term solution may be through investment in infrastructure and state-building, creating a sustainable future for all going forward, for donors it is hard to ignore the immediate need, and the ramifications for the people of Afghanistan if a long term systemic approach to philanthropic investment is taken.

What is a donor to do? As a society, and in concert with the advancements of technology, our decision-making has moved from faith to reason, to big data and artificial intelligence, as described by Henry A. Kissinger, and coauthors Eric Schmidt and Danial Huttenlocher in The Age of AI And Our Human Future. This presents another interesting consideration for donors and the nonprofit sector, and a possible portent of the future.

Decision-making based on the measurement of impact or alternative approaches as described in the Stanford Social Innovation Review article entitled Ten Reasons Not to Measure Impact – and What to Do Instead, provides a useful framework for donors seeking the right balance between the subjective and the empiric. Authors Mary Kay Gugerty and Dean Karlan describe the complex, imprecise and uncertain trade-off between funding current use to ameliorate immediate need versus funding research, to inform long term impact or systemic solutions.

Time and money can be wasted on poorly conceived, poorly designed, and poorly implemented impact evaluations. Studies may be too small, or insufficient attention paid to quality data or establishing causality. Others fail to engage stakeholders appropriately and as a consequence results are never used. Good impact evaluations do enhance knowledge, and improve policy and practice, and are described as a mosaic of individual pieces that come together to create a picture that becomes clearer and clearer.

The nonprofit/NGO sectors must navigate many choices and challenges to build monitoring and evaluation systems that fit their needs. Premised that an insistent focus on measuring impact can be counterproductive to collecting other important data, The Goldilocks Challenge helps organizations design the “right fit” evidence strategies. The system of strategies in this important work informs when to measure impact and when not to measure impact.

This brings the conversation back to big data. The rapidly decreasing costs of data collection and analysis have certainly helped to heighten the appeal of impact measurement. As well, there are more calls for accountability in the public and social sectors, requiring evidence of impact. Social impact bonds and pay-for-success programs fund effective initiatives by tying financing to proven results, and proponents of effective altruism seek to persuade philanthropists to give only to programs with convincing evidence of effectiveness.

The authors contend the push to demonstrate impact wastes resources, compromises monitoring efforts, and contributes to poor and misleading methods. In some instances, organizations collect more data than they can analyze or collect the wrong data, providing misleading or wrong results, informing poor future decisions, and opportunity costs are incurred.

The challenge for funders and nonprofit/NGO stakeholders is to be accountable for developing the right-fit evidence systems and to demand impact evaluations when the time is right, using the Not the Right Tool, Not Now, Not Feasible, Not Worth It, decision tree. The authors pose scenarios and alternatives for each consideration, all leading to the conclusion that as alluring as impact measurement is, it may distract from a more useful and applicable inquiry of monitoring implementation and improving programs.

The key to right-sized monitoring data is finding a balance between external accountability requirements and internal management needs. In any event, credible, actionable, responsible, and transportable data on implementation should be a precursor to impact evaluation. And empowering decision-makers to use the data to make decisions requires regular review and the involvement of both program managers and staff.

Bottom line: the short and long term impact of programs will benefit from shifting the focus to evidence strategies that build learning and improvement.

Postscript: UN to Elon Musk: Here’s that US$6 billion plan to end world hunger

Together we’re better,


Welcome Asia Justice And Rights (AJAR)

S.Sutton & Associates Inc. is delighted to announce our newest client, Asia Justice and Rights (AJAR) a nonprofit human rights organization whose core mandate is to prevent and seek just solutions for mass human rights violations in the Asia Pacific region. AJAR’s headquarters is in Jakarta, with programs in Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Thailand, the Philippines, Myanmar, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and the Solomon Islands. AJAR also conducts regional programs and events, provides technical assistance, and contributes to international initiatives on victims’ rights, justice, and accountability. AJAR has a strong focus on assisting survivors of serious rights abuses and contributing to gender justice initiatives.

AJAR achieves its goals through:

  • Trainings, exchanges, and strengthening networks to increase the knowledge and capacity of survivors, human rights defenders, and government officials.
  • Undertaking research to establish and share the truth concerning mass human rights violations. As part of this work AJAR has developed unique participatory methods where victims are not the ‘objects’ of researchers, but take an active part in processes that include self-healing and empowerment.
  • Utilizing the results of its research in advocacy with national, regional, and international organizations such as the United Nations.
  • Increasing popular, broad-based understanding of human rights, justice, tolerance, gender balance, etc. through the use of mass media. This has included creating popular television series with human rights themes in Myanmar and Timor-Leste, producing documentaries, recording rights-related music, and social media campaigns.
  • Contributing to the empowerment of women survivors and human rights defenders so that their voices have an increased impact on policy and practice.

S. Sutton & Associates Inc. will provide Interim Program Management through Senior Associate Peter Jones, and Advancement Services, including Prospect Research through Associate Katherine Scott.

Jeanne began her career in consumer marketing, and as many in the for-profit arena was compelled to act on her interest in social change. Building on her academic career in Marketing Management-Communications at the British Columbia Institute of Technology Jeanne segued and pursued a Bachelor of Science in Integrated Leadership (Nonprofit Studies) followed by a Master of Arts in Social Entrepreneurship and Change from Pepperdine University. Over the last 10+ years, Jeanne has leveraged her for-profit experience and academic prowess to support a broad range of grassroots nonprofit organizations serving in staff capacities and as Board leadership.

Fundraising Area of Expertise: Jeanne’s core expertise is in Donor and Constituent Engagement. She also has wide experience in Annual Giving and Direct Marketing; Fundraising Campaigns and Strategic Planning.

Sector Experience: Education, Arts & Culture, Community Based Membership and Advocacy.

Jeanne’s Fundraising Must-Have: A powerful case for support tied to a clear and concise organizational mission statement.

Deconstructing the Logic Model
Jeanne Bray, Junior Associate, S. Sutton & Associates Inc.

What is a Logic Model?

A logic model is a program planning tool that helps an organization, social business or group define important factors to launch a new program, product, or service. It can be used by a large, mature organization to plan a new program and can also be used by a small grassroots organization or social venture that is just beginning to plan how they will execute their mission. The logic model is a visual representation of a team’s vision of how and why their program, product or service will work. The flow of the logic model represents how that working assumption will be proven. It maps out the thought process or logic behind program execution from beginning to end.

How are Logic Models Used?

The beauty of logic models are their flexibility and adaptability. They be very granular, mapping out each and every measurable detail, or they can be much more general, allowing the flow to be captured in a more abstract way. They can also be adapted to key stakeholder audiences like funders, staff, board members or investors. For example, a logic model can be used by a team to attract foundation support for a new program; the logic model can be tailored to clearly articulate the organization’s gaps and resource needs which will allow the funder to see how their support will enable the organization to fulfill their mission. Alternatively, the logic model can be used to ensure that all board members and staff are on the same page with respect to a new program they are undertaking. Another application of a logic model framework is impact evaluation; the process of “looking to the future” can help an organization or team work backwards from their end goal to the basics of launching their program. This allows the team to put evaluation metrics in place well before the program has launched priming them for success in measurement and evaluation.

TIPS: The Johns Hopkins University Center for Communications Programs suggests breaking out inputs into the following buckets: Human Resources, Office Supplies and Field Resources. They also suggest that this step can be taken one step further by having a Necessities List and Wish List. This additional layer allows the organization to make decisions about bottom line needs versus less essential needs.

Components of a Logic Model

  1. Theory of Change or Problem Statement – while the statement is typically brief, adequate time and thought needs to be allocated to define what the organization or team plans to accomplish.
  2. Inputs – the resources needed to execute the mission; inputs can be both tangible and intangible and broken out in whatever way is most appropriate for the organization.
  3. Activities – the inputs in action; they effectively describe program execution; Examples activities are: vaccines administered, public awareness campaigns delivered, classes taught, performances conducted, artifacts protected.
  4. Outputs – the results of the actions in measurable form – they are what is being counted. Example: We supplied 10,000 packets of supplementary food to the children under 3 years of age.
  5. Short Term Outcomes – usually spanning within a year time frame, they are the objectives of the program; they represent some sort of knowledge or learning that takes place.
  6. Long Term Outcomes – ranging from 2-5 years, they are the objectives of the program; they articulate some sort of action or behavior change. Example: We lowered the cases of acute malnutrition among children under three years of age.
  7. Impact – the ultimate goal(s) of the program, product, or service; it represents the important change that the Theory of Change aims to prove; usually defined in terms of changes in conditions (social, governmental, environmental, civic).

TIPS: Segmenting outcomes based on time (short-term, mid-term, and long-term) can be useful in developing achievable milestones for mission fulfillment.

USE: SMART (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, Timely) goals to break out the program’s objectives.

USE: An Impact Statement to sum up several program goals and provide an overarching North Star for the organization to refer to.

Common Pitfalls

  1. Avoid the “Kitchen Sink Effect”- Build the framework from right to left starting with the ultimate goal(s) and working back to smaller details; this will prevent the framework from being overloaded with non-essential information.
  2. Measure What Counts – Don’t highlight outputs – or process indicators – to demonstrate organizational impact or mission fulfillment; while they are important, they are only a piece of the puzzle.
  3. Keep Things Clear – If several programs are being presented in a single logic model they should be layered, clearly indicating what goals, objectives, activities, input, and outputs are tied to each layer or program.

S. Sutton & Associates Inc. has the technical expertise to work with your team to maximize your potential. Schedule a 30-minute complimentary consultation today, and in just a 30-minute call receive invaluable, actionable advice and much more.

Fundraising Campaigns and Strategic Planning

Fundraising campaigns are a powerful driver to address institutional needs, enlist and engage the support of constituencies and elevate philanthropic performance. The process to plan and prepare for a campaign is as important as its execution and can inform short and long-term success.

Strategic Planning

Strategic planning studies involve a number of our services, often including, but not limited to needs assessment and priority setting, developing the case for support, campaign branding and marketing, an evaluation of the existing donor pipeline, training for gift officers, development staff, and executive coaching for institutional leaders.

Campaign Readiness

Feasibility studies or readiness assessments gauge both internal and external readiness. External constituents’ opinions, attitudes, and engagement and are key to developing a roadmap for your campaign’s success.

We assess the potential and likelihood of both philanthropic and volunteer support for your proposed campaign, enthusiasm for the strategic goals of the campaign, and confidence in your institution, its leadership, and its fundraising programs.

Internal readiness is assessed in terms of staffing, structure, donor pipeline, processes, and funding priorities articulated in the case for support.

Based on both internal and external readiness, evidence-based recommendations for ambitious, yet achievable campaign goals are recommended.

Our consultants can assist your organization with all facets of strategic planning, preparation, and execution as well as pre, and post-campaign assessment.

To explore your possibilities, please contact us to schedule a complimentary consultation.

Welcome New Associates

S. Sutton & Associates Inc. is a global network of consultants providing customized Innovation Teams of subject experts with specific technical expertise to help nonprofit organizations and philanthropists maximize their philanthropic efforts and achieve significant impact. This month we welcome:

Saad Qureshi, Associate

Leveraging over 10 years of business development and customer relationship management experience, Saad Qureshi serves his clients in the nonprofit sector through developing data driven fundraising strategies to increase and diversify revenue streams while developing deep relationships with donors through meaningful engagement. Saad has also worked with government agencies and private corporations where he has delivered solutions that maximize the utility of existing infrastructures and maintain a high return on investment.

With a B.A. Honors in Psychology from the University of Ottawa, Saad enjoys working with diverse groups and having rich exchanges that foster growth and allow people to showcase their unique skills, knowledge, and abilities.

Cory Sinclair, Junior Associate

With more than 15 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Cory Sinclair specializes in advancement services, project management, and donor and constituent engagement. Previous experience includes work with UCLA Performing Arts, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Habitat for Humanity, the Hollywood Food Coalition, and several Los Angeles based social service nonprofits. In the for-profit arena Cory spent several years in the film industry as a writer and in production.

Cory holds an interfield Ph.D. in music and nonprofit management from Claremont Graduate University. His research interests include cultural policy and the relationship between philanthropy and public-private partnerships.

Katherine Scott, Associate

Katherine Scott is a seasoned prospect research and development professional with 13+ years of experience working in international development and information science including work with Médecins Sans Frontieres – Doctors Without Borders (MSF Canada), Princess Margaret Cancer Foundation, Canadian Red Cross and Ryerson University. She currently serves as President of Apra Canada, an association dedicated to the advancement of the prospect research and development profession.

Katherine is tri-lingual, speaking French and Spanish in addition to English, and holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts – Political Science, a Master of Arts – Political Science and International Development, and a Master of Information Science – Knowledge Management and Information Management from the University of Toronto.

Jeffrey Benson, Junior Associate

With nine+ years of development experience, Jeff’s passion is providing data and analysis to front-line fundraisers enabling them to form and maintain relationships with the supporters whose generous gifts make possible an organization’s mission. Currently, with the University of Maryland System, Jeff has also served George Washington University, The Washington National Cathedral, Oceania, Inc., and LAPA Fundraising. His work has encompassed everything from prospect identification and pipeline development to researching and drafting prospect research profiles, as well as partnering with front-line solicitors to ensure the data hygiene of their assigned portfolio.

Jeff holds a B.S in English from Towson University and is a member of Apra International and the Metro D.C. Chapter.

Carley Houseman, Junior Associate

Currently serving as the Associate Director of Medical Annual Giving and Digital Strategy for Johns Hopkins Medicine, Carley brings seven+ years of experience including stints with the University of Northern Iowa Foundation and Gettysburg College. In addition to a BA in Youth and Human Services: Nonprofit Management, with a minor in Economics, an MA in Youth and Human Services: Nonprofit Management, Carley has achieved certification in Principles and Practices of Nonprofit Excellence, is a Certified Nonprofit Professional (CNP) and has completed Fundraising Management courses through the AHP Virtual Institute.


Philanthropists Leon and Toby Cooperman announced last month that the Cooperman Family Foundation would be making a historic $100 million donation to Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey. RWJ Barnabas Health will rename the facility Cooperman Barnabas Medical Center in light of this historic donation.

– The University of Wisconsin-Madison unveiled a $20 million gift last month by brothers Jeff and Marv Levy, their alma mater, which will allow the University to move forward with plans to build a new home for its College of Letters and Science. The Levy brothers made this donation in honor of their late parents and the new building will be named “Irving and Dorothy Levy Hall.”

The Ford Foundation will divest millions from fossil fuels. The foundation, one of the largest private foundations in the United States, will invest these funds in its energy portfolio in alternative and renewable energy, and funds that address the threat of climate change, and support the transition to a green economy.

– Belmont University’s board chairman Milton Johnson and his wife, Denice have donated $10 million to the Belmont Medical School. The private university announced the gift for the Thomas F. Frist Jr. College of Medicine. The school will also name the lobby of the new building after the couple.

General Motors will build and sell its own brand of electric vehicle (EV) charger and donate 40,000 of the units to areas that lack significant charging infrastructure. The public chargers will not be a proprietary network, so owners of any compatible EV can use them, thus developing the infrastructure necessary for the more widespread adoption of EVs.

Salesforce founder and CEO Marc Benioff has pledged $200 million for reforestation, climate entrepreneurs, to plant trees, and fund ecologically-focused entrepreneurs. Benioff said “We’re in a planetary emergency, a climate crisis that impacts everyone, especially the most vulnerable among us. We need to apply every strategy possible to protect and preserve our planet.”

– The University of Toronto will divest from fossil fuels by 2030 or sooner as part of its commitment to combatting climate change and has additionally committed to placing ten percent of its investments in sustainable and low-carbon investments by 2025. The universities fossil fuel investments are worth just under $65-million, or about 1.6 percent of its holdings.

JPMorgan Chase has deployed about $13 billion of its $30 billion goal to help close the racial wealth gap as part of its Racial Equity Commitment initiative to help close the racial wealth gap among Black, Hispanic, and Latino communities. In October 2020, JPMorgan Chase announced the $30 Billion Racial Equity project by bringing together its business, philanthropy, policy, and data expertise to advance racial equity and drive inclusive growth.

Jeff Bezos nonprofit pledges nearly $100mn to address homelessness. The Families Fund program is pledging US$96.2 million to support efforts to address the immediate needs of U.S. families experiencing homelessness with 32 nonprofits across 21 states working to provide food, shelter, and other help to homeless families will receive grants.

Qualtrics co-founder Scott M. Smith and his wife Karen Smith have announced a $25 million gift to fund Utah Valley University’s new engineering building which is part of UVU’s response to the state’s need for higher education to increase the number of engineers and computer scientists in Utah’s workforce. This lead gift initiates the private fundraising campaign to raise the $40 million needed to start construction on the 180,000 square-foot, five-story building that will be located on UVU’s Orem Campus.

Elon Musk challenged David Beasley, UN’s World Food Programme directors claim that just a small percentage of his wealth could help solve world hunger. Musk tweeted that If the World Food Programme, using transparent and open accounting, could describe exactly how $6B will solve world hunger, he would sell Tesla stock right now and do it.

– The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation will spend $120 million to boost access to generic versions of drugmaker Merck’s antiviral Covid-19 pill for lower-income countries. The foundation said its funding is also intended to help ready regulatory, delivery, and other pathways in order to make the pill more accessible if it becomes available.

– The Jeff Bezos Earth Fund has pledged $2 billion to help restore nature and transform food systems as part of its $10 billion commitment to fight climate change, improve nature, and advance environmental justice and economic opportunity. Bezos said, “Our commitment today supports a three-fold imperative – we must conserve what we have, restore what we’ve lost, and grow what we need in harmony with nature.”


– A group of nine philanthropic foundations made the largest ever donation by pledging $5B to nature conservation, to finance the protection of 30% of land and sea by the end of the decade. In effect, this funding covers 30% of the estimated cost of the goal for the decade.


– Atlassian co-founder Mike Cannon-Brookes and his wife Annie have pledged to donate and invest $1.5 billion on climate projects by 2030. The couple will spend $1 billion on investments in green technology businesses and another $500 million on donations towards philanthropic organizations, think tanks, institutes, and civil society organizations working on the climate crisis.


Jamie Reuben, Newcastle United Football Club co-owner, who was part of the consortium that took over the club has pledged to match cash donations to a local food bank, Newcastle West End Food Bank at home games. Jamie has said his family foundation would match cash donations until the end of the season.

Billionaire Bill Gates and U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a $552 million project aimed at bringing green technologies in the U.K. to market through his climate investment firm Breakthrough Energy Catalyst. The firm will invest $276 million over the next ten years in green hydrogen, long term energy storage, sustainable aviation fuels, and direct air capture of carbon dioxide technologies.

We were very happy to collaborate and contribute to the wonderful work of so many nonprofits, nongovernmental organizations and philanthropists this year, and wish all our clients and our Associates, who conducted exemplary work, the warmest holiday wishes and success in the New Year!

With gratitude on behalf of S. Sutton & Associates Inc.,

Susan Sutton

Philanthropy Wired Newsletter

Philanthropy Wired: September 2021

From Chez Panisse to Uber – What the Challenge to Roe Tells Us About the Evolution of Corporate Social Responsibility

In 1971 Alice Waters opened Chez Panisse initiating what was to become a global revolution – the farm-to-table movement, California Cuisine, and the embodiment of values-based corporate culture concerned less with profit and more with the security of farmers and farmworkers, biodiversity, factual labeling, and eco-friendly packaging. In 1992 the James Beard Foundation named Alice the Best Chef in America (the first woman to win Best Chef) and Chez Panisse the Best Restaurant in America. Alice and the founders brought their values to the table, and in doing so, the slow food movement became a political statement in support of the survival of the planet.

The cultural soup of the early 1970s within which Chez Panisse was envisioned produced significant social upheaval in the U.S embodied through social activism, opposition to the Vietnam War, feminism, and the passage of Roe v. Wade. The landmark decision of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution of the United States protects a pregnant woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.

Fast forward to September 2021 when abortion, after six weeks into pregnancy, was effectively banned by a law enacted by the Texas Legislature. The law deputizes ordinary people to sue those involved (doctors, nurses, insurance companies, even Uber drivers who take women to clinics) and sets a $10,000 award for any successful lawsuit to stop abortion, effectively turning the citizenry into bounty hunters.

Enter stage left, Uber and Lyft who have stated they will pay their driver’s legal fees if they are sued under Texas’ new abortion law. Lyft plans to also donate $1 million to Planned Parenthood to “help ensure that transportation is never a barrier to healthcare access”. The reaction by the private sector continues with Marc Benioff, CEO of SalesForce, committing to help employees and their families relocate if they’re concerned about the ability to seek reproductive care, saying “These are incredibly personal issues that directly impact many of us — especially women. We recognize and respect that we all have deeply held and different perspectives. As a company, we stand with all of our women at Salesforce and everywhere.”

Corporate Social Responsibility characterized by social activism, reactive and in-the-moment, represents an important shift. Highly curated efforts are burgeoning as well, exemplified by the partnership announced by Estée Lauder and the country’s first-ever National Youth Poet Laureate, Amanda Gorman, who will serve as the first Global Changemaker.

“I will also work with Estée Lauder Companies to inspire change, beginning with founding Writing Change, a new philanthropic initiative of The Estée Lauder Companies. Together we will advance equality and social impact through supporting literacy globally” Gorman shared on social media. And, following the launch of their “About Love” campaign, Beyoncé and Jay-Z announced a partnership with Tiffany & Co. for the Love Scholarship program via BeyGOOD and the Shawn Carter Foundation. Tiffany & Co. has pledged $2 million in scholarship funding for students in the arts and creative fields at historically Black colleges and universities including Lincoln University in Pennsylvania, Norfolk State University in Virginia, Bennett College in North Carolina, the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and Central State University in Ohio.

Coining the term Movement Capitalism, Tom Steyer has announced the launch of the climate investment fund Galvanize Climate Solutions to invest in decarbonization efforts. “Movement Capitalism is an economic philosophy that employs the foundations of capitalism – innovation, entrepreneurship, competition – and merges those with the power of global activism, in support of a higher public purpose,” said Steyer in a written statement. “The practice of Movement Capitalism involves not only generating profit but also successfully addressing global challenges, such as the climate crisis.”

Similarly, Walmart Inc. made its green bond market debut with a $2 billion offering, the largest ever from a U.S. corporation. The retail giant’s inaugural sustainable debt issuance comes amid efforts to reduce carbon emissions, boost recycling, and clean up its supply chain. Walmart’s $2 billion 10-year green issuances is part of a five-tranche, $7 billion sale to help fund a tender offer as well as a range of environmental efforts. They include solar and wind projects, energy-efficient refrigeration, electric vehicles, and waste reduction, according to its green financing framework. Walmart has a target of achieving zero emissions by 2040 and aims for a $1 billion metric ton cut in emissions from its supply chain by 2030.

Through cooperative, complementary, and collective actions, the public and private sectors, civil society, and individuals have the opportunity to truly change the world. And, as Viktor Frankl is quoted as saying, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”.

Together we’re better,

Eric Saarvala, MBA, CSR-P, G. Dipl. SR&S, has more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Eric specializes in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and has expertise in additonal services offered by the firm, including Advancement Services, Alumni Relations and Giving, Counsel, and Support for Philanthropists and Risk Management and Fundraising Governance.

Previous experience includes Strategic Account Executive, CSR, Employee Engagement, Foundations & Nonprofit Solutions for Blackbaud, Advisor to Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR) and Manager, Charitable Foundation Services, Scotiatrust, Scotia Private Client Group, Scotiabank.

Eric is a graduate of the Western University Ivey Business School where he also received an Executive MBA. He holds a Graduate Diploma in Social Responsibility & Sustainability from the University of Toronto St. Michael’s College and has achieved Sustainability Practitioner Certification from the Centre for Sustainability & Excellence.

Eric is an in-demand thought leader in CSR, sustainability, philanthropy, and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He sits on the Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR) Education Foundation Board of Directors and is a member of the Imagine Canada Board of Directors Risk Management, Finance and Audit Committee.

Area of Expertise: Eric specializes in Corporate Social Responsibility and has significant additional expertise in Advancement Services, Alumni Relations and Giving, Counsel and Support for Philanthropists and Risk Management and Fundraising Governance.

Sector Experience: Education, Healthcare, Arts & Culture, International Development.

Fundraising Must Have: Strategic philanthropy that drives internal and external capacity building and inclusion for greater social impact and advancement of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The Semantics of CSR, Purpose, Sustainability, and ESG By Eric Saarvala, MBA, CSR-P, G. Dipl. SR&S

CSR, purpose, sustainability, ESG….that’s just semantics, right?

Many use these words interchangeably. Are they just the same activities with a new buzzword every few years? They are, in fact, interrelated but ultimately, they are not the same.

As society faces challenges like the COVID-19 pandemic, social justice and privilege, rising inequality, climate change and biodiversity loss, just to mention a few, how do organizations leverage these management practices to build back better?

CSR (corporate social responsibility) was the initial activity that companies engaged in to do good and think about their impact on society. It covers social and environmental risks and impacts in their business as well as how they interact with their stakeholders. It’s a step towards accountability. CSR is relatively self-regulated, and the activities can vary depending on the business, the sector, and there’s a challenge around standard metrics. Some believe it’s not an integrated program to their purpose but an add-on. An Alva article indicated that for some businesses “At worst, it has become a marketing tool, allowing an organization to say what it is doing well without having to back up its claims or talk about areas where it may be failing. To the immense frustration of CSR professionals, it has failed to live up to its promise, largely because it has far more breadth than depth in its scope.”

While ‘The social responsibility of business is to increase profits’, an essay from Milton Friedman in 1970, spoke to the role of business and how businesses have operated for over 50 years since the reality is that business is changing. The purpose of an organization and focus has shifted to all stakeholders, not just shareholders, and has gained tremendous momentum culminating in an announcement by the Business Roundtable. The Business Roundtable is an association of chief executive officers of America’s leading companies working to promote a thriving U.S. economy and expanded opportunities for all Americans through sound public policy. The announcement was “the release of a new Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation signed by 181 CEOs who commit to lead their companies for the benefit of all stakeholders – customers, employees, suppliers, communities and shareholders”.

Purpose driven companies are starting to outperform their peers. A Deloitte Monitor report speaks to “An integrated purpose strategy focused on the differentiated role a company serves in society is a good business strategy that drives sustainable, long-term value. In fact, purpose strategy is increasingly a business imperative to manage enterprise risk; build trust with customers, investors, and other stakeholders; and develop new markets.”

The idea of purpose is reinforced by Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager with over $8 trillion in assets, through his annual letter to CEOs. In this 2021 letter, he stated “The more your company can show its purpose in delivering value to its customers, its employees, and its communities, the better able you will be to compete and deliver long-term, durable profits for shareholders.”

Organizations are now turning to social purpose experts like the Social Purpose Institute at United Way to help them develop a social purpose, build the business case for social purpose and embed it in their entire business.

An article in the Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance states that it is wrong to use purpose and sustainability interchangeably. The article proposes that “Purpose and sustainability are related but different ideas. Purpose comes first. Sustainability can either contribute to it or can detract from it.” It also states that the purpose of a company “is to produce profitable solutions to problems of people and planet, while at the same time not profiting from producing problems for people or planet—a failure in sustainability. Companies that are making investments in sustainability while failing to produce profitable solutions to people and the planet are also failing in purpose. Companies that are profitable while degrading the environment and society are focused on profits, not purpose.”

The Oxford Learners dictionary reflects the meaning of sustainability as “the use of natural products and energy in a way that does not harm the environment” and “the ability to continue or be continued for a long time”. The older school of thought of sustainability that infers environmental activities only, has changed. It’s not just ‘green’ activity that has come to be embedded in all business practices and operations. It can lack clear meaning, be generalized as doing better depending on how an organization communicates its sustainability ambition. On the flipside, companies have robust sustainability programs that advance the entire business. An increasing trend in sustainability is companies that are declaring their net-zero climate ambition goals by 2050 or earlier. Sustainability is frequently interchanged with CSR and triple bottom line. Triple bottom line is measured in three areas. 1) People; 2) Planet and; 3) Profit. The biggest difference between sustainability and ESG (environmental, social & governance) is measurement. ESG policies have specific metrics to measure, and they can be benchmarked against other companies through scoring and ratings. They are core to business strategy and embedded in the operations. ESG factors include all the business practices related to these three areas and touches on everything in between.

The “E”, as expected, is focused on environmental issues such as climate, the biodiversity loss, and carbon and other greenhouse gas emissions, air, and water pollution, etc. The “S” focuses on stakeholder engagement such as giving back to the communities that businesses operate in, customer satisfaction, health & safety, human rights, employee diversity, equity, inclusion, and access etc. Finally, the “G” focuses on issues like a board of directors and leadership composition, audit, compliance, etc.

All the information that was previously either limited or did not exist in financial statements reviewed by investors seeking to determine the health and operations of a company, are now captured in an ESG program. Investors are looking more closely at ESG ratings for publicly traded companies, and rating agencies review ESG data when making investments. ESG investing factors in many more data points versus sustainable investment which has traditionally been more focused investments on social and environmental criteria.

One indication on this major shift is the Alva article above which also stated that “In March 2019, the Global Reporting Initiative noted that two decades ago when it launched its guidelines only a handful of companies disclosed their environmental performance, while now 93% of the world’s largest companies by revenue report information on their ESG.”

With an increased demand for transparency and a desire that businesses take action on societal challenges from stakeholders, there’s many opportunities to use the concepts and practices in CSR, purpose, sustainability and ESG. The best approach for an organization will depend on their goals and where they are in their journey as they look to build back better and future proof their business.

Corporate Social Responsibility

The world is changing fast. Business is facing new demands from rapidly evolving technologies, while social, environmental and political issues are affecting bottom-lines. Business and nonprofit organizations have a choice. They can choose to be at the mercy of these new forces, always reacting to defend the bottom-line. Or they can embrace these changes, seeing them as opportunities to deliver healthy, inclusive growth with long-term viability.

Thriving in today’s business world means having clarity of purpose, beyond profit. Businesses with this clarity know that profit is an outcome of the value they create. That’s why they focus beyond profit. What does your business stand for? To authentically engage, your employees, customers and your community must believe in your purpose.

Driving stakeholder loyalty and advocacy is vital to standing out from the crowd and succeeding in these changing times. We can help you learn about the forces driving change over the next few years and look at corporate responsibility and sustainability issues through a new lens.

S. Sutton & Associates Inc. recognizes opportunity for all parties when there is alignment between the objectives of corporations and the mission and funding priorities of a nonprofit. Knowing how and when and with whom to associate is a strategic decision.

S. Sutton & Associates Inc. has the expertise to help your organization develop strategy and tactics to maximize the potential, minimize risk, and move the mission of the organization forward.

We assist corporations and nonprofit organizations seeking to realize the potential of CSR through corporate sponsorship, contributions of goods, services, products and cash, employee engagement and pure philanthropy to contribute to your organization’s bottom-line, raise profile and build customer and donor bases.

S. Sutton & Associates Inc. brings a deep understanding of this arena, trends, and short and long term implications when considering an association. We help structure and guide programs to meet the strategic objectives of corporations and nonprofits considering all aspects of CSR.

Welcome new Associates!

S. Sutton & Associates Inc. is a global network of consultants providing customized Innovation Teams of subject experts with specific technical expertise to help nonprofit organizations and philanthropists maximize their philanthropic efforts and achieve significant impact. This month we welcome:

Natalia Branco, Junior Associate

Natalia Branco has over 8 years of experience working in marketing, customer success management, and SalesForce implementation. She is passionate about how technology can improve sales results and companies’ performances and is proud to have made a difference by working in small startups to large well-established companies in the financial services industry, as well as nonprofit organizations seeking to fully implement and harness the power of SalesForce. Natalia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Advertising from Universidade Paulista, Brazil, a Master’s degree in Business Communication from Fundacao Getulio Vargas, Brazil, a Post-Graduate Certificate in Global Business Management from Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning, Canada, and is a Certified SalesForce Administrator (Admin 201 and Platform App Builder).

Clayton D’mello, Junior Associate

Driven by his passion to help others, and with experience in digital marketing communications and business development, Clayton serves as the Marketing/Communication Coordinator for the firm and as a Junior Associate. Clayton’s strengths lay in creating inspiring marketing campaigns, digital acquisition and marketing automation. A strong advocate of the power of social media, Clayton has created various engagement campaigns and storylines, and has proven skill and ability to reach new audiences through the creation of innovative marketing plans. Clayton’s career began in business development and shifted to marketing in the FinTech industry working with the world’s largest online small business lender. He holds a degree in Marketing Management from Mumbai University, a post-graduate degree in Marketing Management from Sheridan College and certification in the Hootsuite Platform, HubSpot CMS, Fundamentals of Digital Marketing offered the Google Digital Garage and is in training for Marketo Certified Associate – Adobe.

Julia Beatrice Reed, Executive Associate

With more than 30 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, Julia Beatrice “JB” Reed, Esq., MBA specializes in Interim Program Management. Throughout a career characterized by executive management and entrepreneurial experience she has translated the visions of community, business, faith-based, and government leaders into fully functioning non-profit agencies designed to meet the needs of underserved populations. Central to her success is a highly effective combination of skills, abilities, and knowledge in the areas of strategic planning, business development, partnership development, revenue generation/management, financial management, legal and contract compliance/interpretation, and written and oral presentations.

Special strengths include mentorship that empowers leaders of start-up organizations in such diverse arenas as social services, health profession education, community development, and religious organizations. In addition to her work with start-ups, she has extensive experience transforming programs and services within firmly established non-profit and government agencies. JB most recently participated in the restructuring and implementation of the grant making process for the Bank of America Charitable Foundation. Additional experience includes Chief of National Programs and Chief Operating Officer, The Center for Leadership Innovation; Chief Executive Officer/Executive Director, the Greater Richmond Area Higher Education Consortium, Inc; and Staff Attorney with Jacksonville Area Legal Aid.

JB graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Politics and Government from Ohio Wesleyan University; a Jurist Doctorate from the George Washington University Law School; and a Master’s in Business Administration from the Terry College of Business at the University of Georgia. She is a member of the Florida Bar Association.


– According to a recent report from the African Philanthropy Forum and The Bridgespan Group, African NGOs are being underfunded by African and non-African philanthropists in comparison to organizations headquartered outside the continent. Even with the global pandemic, African funders directed just 9% of large gifts to NGOs based on the continent between 2010 and 2019, while non-African funders provided just 14% to these groups.

Middle East

– Under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, a humanitarian aid aircraft loaded with food supplies was sent by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Humanitarian and Charity Establishment to Afghanistan. This was the first of a series of aid flights planned to support the people of Afghanistan with food and clothing.


– Honorary chairman of Hyundai Motor Group, Chung Mong-Koo, will donate 10 billion won ($8.6 million) to the Korea University Medical Center to establish a vaccine development center expanding R&D facilities. “I wish the vaccine center can be of help to overcome the infectious disease and recover health and happiness” said Chung.

– China’s Alibaba Group will invest 100 billion yuan ($15.5 billion) by 2025 in support of “common prosperity”, it said, becoming the latest corporate giant to pledge support for the initiative driven by President Xi Jinping. The government has been encouraging companies to share the wealth as part of the effort to ease inequality in the world’s second-largest economy.


– Australia-based Canva has it raised $71 million in new funding led by T. Rowe Price and Dragoneer at a $15 billion valuation. Canva has more than doubled the valuation for its design software tools after securing a $6 billion valuation amid a pandemic usage boost, and profitable growth. CEO Melanie Perkins is already on the record that they don’t plan to “hoard” such wealth. Perkins and Obrecht are now pledging to give away 30% of Canva — the “vast majority” of their stakes to the Canva Foundation to be used for charitable causes. Canva first plans to pilot its charitable giving through a $10 million donation to non-profit, GiveDirectly, to distribute to vulnerable families in Southern Africa and ramp up its giving after that. It’s all part of what Perkins has long described as a “two step plan” for maximum impact to “become one of the most valuable companies in the world, and do the best we can do.”


– Scottish regulators said are investigating one of Prince Charles’ charities after a UK newspaper reported that a Russian banker had tried to donate a six-figure sum to the future king’s foundation. Prince Charles wrote a thank-you letter to Dmitry Leus stating that he was “incredibly grateful” for Leus’ “immense generosity” and that the donation had given him “great comfort,” and offered to meet him in person after receiving a large donation for The Prince’s Foundation in May 2020.

North America

– Tom Steyer, the 2020 presidential candidate announced is launching a climate investment fund, called Galvanize Climate Solutions. The fund will focus on “Movement Capitalism,” or using capitalism to make a change. It is an economic philosophy that employs the foundations of capitalism – innovation, entrepreneurship, competition – and merges those with the power of global activism, in support of a higher public purpose.

– The Benderson Family Foundation donated $20 million to the Boston Children’s Hospital to advance pediatric heart disease research and treatment. Kevin Churchwell, MD, president, and CEO of Boston Children’s Hospital said “The generosity of the Benderson Family Foundation will empower our researchers, clinicians, nurses and all who are involved in the Heart Center to further advance and improve care for pediatric cardiovascular patients and to create the next evolution of that care.”

– Billionaire T. Denny Sanford has pledged an additional $350 million to a South Dakota health system that already bears his name. The gift will be used to establish “virtual care centers” for patients in rural and underserved areas across the region. Sanford has faced the brunt of negative press over allegations that he was in possession of child pornography and is being investigated.

– Boston College has received an estimated $75 million gift, the largest estate gift in the university’s history from Wayland couple Joyce L. and E. Paul Robsham. The gift will fund university priorities including student scholarships, academic programming, facilities improvements and operation of the Robsham Theater Arts Center.

– The Bezos Earth Fund announced pledges of $203.7 million in grants providing critical support to nonprofits working to advance climate justice, advocate for climate-smart economic recovery, and spur innovation in decarbonization pathways. Andrew Steer, president of the Bezos Earth Fund said “This funding is just the next step in the Bezos Earth Fund’s commitment to creating catalytic change during this decisive decade”.

– Harvard University president, Lawrence Bacow, announced that the university is ending its investments in fossil fuels, which was welcomed by divestment activists who had long pressed the leading university to exit such holdings. Young members of the leadership board have been pushing for disinvestment in fossil fuel stocks and Bacow has advocated for this change in course since his appointment in 2018.

– Facebook announced that it will donate $3 million to its partners in Afghanistan and globally to support refugees and humanitarian crisis in the country. Facebook’s commitment will support the refugee registration and resettlement; protection and evacuation of at-risk individuals; and humanitarian assistance, including food, shelter and health support.

– University of Massachusetts Medical School announced a $175 million donation from The Morningside Foundat-ion, established by the family of T.H. Chan, the late Hong Kong real estate developer. The unrestricted funds will more than double the school’s endowment. In recognition of the gift, the school will be renamed the UMass Chan Medical School. UMass Medical School Chancellor Michael Collins said “This gift is a powerful statement about the stature and the potential of our medical school, a very special place.”

Philanthropy Wired Newsletter

Philanthropy Wired: June 2021

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Good Trouble, Barriers and Blind Spots

To some extent all in the nonprofit industry whether on the giving or getting side, are activists, attempting to make a difference, or, in the immortal words of John Lewis, attempting to get into “good trouble.”

With voting rights in the news, Pride Month upon us, and now working with our client, the Green Party of Canada, I have been reflecting on the coalitions in my past that have come together to make “good trouble.” In fact, a coalition created around these very same issues came together in the early 90’s when Coretta Scott King, author, activist, civil right leader and the wife of Martin Luther King Jr., Ralf Neas, Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights, and the Human Rights Campaign Fund (HRCF) joined forces along with numerous other organizations in Washington D. C. and across the U.S. to focus on civil rights writ large. I led the fundraising at HRCF at the time and was awestruck by the skill and ability of King and Neas to bring disparate groups together. The lessons learned from their deft strategy have stayed with me since. My biggest takeaway from that experience? Successful coalitions are based on the universal concept and pragmatic principles behind inclusion, and expanding the circle of support, not restricting, or contracting it.

Our featured article this month by Senior Associate Warren Davis entitled Dependency Quotient speaks to the intrinsic challenges of pipeline management and the barriers and blind spots which impact long term growth and sustainability. The lesson is resonant with the pragmatic principles of inclusion, expanding the circle of support, and indeed coalition building. As tempting as it might be to focus time, talent, and resources on the top of the pyramid, or a select few, this strategy negatively impacts sustained long-term fundraising success.

So, whether it’s voting rights, a social movement, or building a pipeline of constituents to support a nonprofit, focus-on-and-expand, don’t neglect, the circle of engagement. After all, the goal is to empower all to make an impact and enable “good trouble.” I invite you to join us. We stand ready to serve and can be reached directly through our website, or directly at [email protected].

Together we’re better,


Welcome Orlando Ballet!

S. Sutton & Associates Inc. welcomes Orlando Ballet to our roster of clients! Orlando Ballet entertains, educates, and enriches through the highest quality of dance.

The Performing Arts Company of Florida

Orlando Ballet began in 1974 as The Performing Arts Company of Florida and was started with twelve young, non-paid dancers and only $4,000. In 1978, the Company changed its name to Southern Ballet Theatre and began performing at the Bob Carr Theater.

The company now performs at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Since 2009, the Company has been under the creative expertise of Artistic Director, Robert Hill. Hill is a former principal dancer with American Ballet Theater®, Royal Ballet, Covent Garden and the New York City Ballet. He has taught for American Ballet Theatre®, the ABT® Studio Company, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre and for companies where he creates and stages his work. Today, Orlando Ballet is Central Florida’s only fully residential professional ballet company. More than 100,000 captivated theatregoers, residents and visitors, are spellbound by the originality, vitality and spirit that have earned the organization its critically acclaimed reputation. Orlando Ballet produces year-round Main Stage productions featuring meticulous staging of timeless masterpieces and innovative contemporary world premieres, its annual The Nutcracker, performance lecture demonstrations, and enrichment programs. Orlando Ballet employs a full-time professional Company of 25 national and international dancers. Combined with extraordinary costumes, sets and lighting design, the Company achieves the highest level of professionalism and artistic excellence. Additionally, Orlando Ballet supports pre-professional dancers through Orlando Ballet II.

Orlando Ballet School

Orlando Ballet School is only one of four professional national training academies accredited by American Ballet Theatre®.

It attracts more than 1,200 local and international students and in 2018, was named “Outstanding School” at the prestigious Youth America Grand Prix. The School’s two campuses provide year-round professional ballet training, as well as performance and touring opportunities, summer intensive training, workshops and master classes, and teacher training programs. Graduates of Orlando Ballet School have pursued professional careers with major dance institutions including American Ballet Theatre, Boston Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, Houston Ballet, and Paul Taylor Dance Company.

Arts Education and Community Enrichment

Orlando Ballet’s philosophy is that every child who wants to dance or experience dance be provided the opportunity. Arts education and enrichment activities are annual priorities. Programs include STEPS for underserved low-income second and third graders, Come Dance With Us!, a program for children with varying abilities, Intro to Ballet for more than 16,000 public school students to attend performances, and scholarship assistance for those in need.

Warren Davis has over 25 years of experience as a development professional during which time he developed a unique combination of project management, cross-functional team leadership, and cultivation, solicitation, and stewardship skills, resulting in a personal track record of over $100 million dollars raised. Warren has held leadership roles at the Lyric Opera of Chicago, the University of Chicago Smart Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, The Art Institute of Chicago, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, and the Arizona Science Center.

Warren holds a Bachelor of Art’s degree in Theatre History from Arizona State University, a Certificate in Art of Leadership from Northwestern University, and a Master of Arts Degree in Liberal Studies from DePaul University.

Fundraising Area of Expertise: Warren’s predominant expertise is in Development Program Review and Expansion Strategies, where he specializes in nonprofits experiencing major growth in their life cycle and/or in need of revitalization. He has a deep understanding of Annual Giving and Direct Marketing, Board Training, Management and Governance, Project Management, and Risk Management and Fundraising Governance.

Sector Experience: Arts and Culture, Education, Healthcare, Community Based Membership and Advocacy.

Warren’s Fundraising Must Have: Focus on mission, collaboration and results!

Dependency Quotient

According to a recent study by the Fundraising Effectiveness Project, renewal of smaller gifts is down. This study was highlighted in a Washington Post article that noted “the number of donors fell 4.5 percent last year.” However total giving year over year was slightly up. What gives? Well, it seems that organizations are concentrating on the top of the pyramid while ignoring the bottom. Exploring this, Senior Associate Warren Davis shares an interesting and pragmatic take on pipeline management and strategic annual giving and direct marketing programs in his article the Dependency Quotient.

Annual Giving and Direct Marketing

A successful annual giving and direct marketing effort is critical to the long-term health of any fundraising operation. S. Sutton & Associates Inc. can partner with you to create a road map for success to build strong programs through our holistic approach enabling increased engagement and growth in annual, mid-level major and planned gifts.

Program review, staffing and revenue and expense analysis along with data analytics and segmentation are key to developing strategies to acquire new annual donors, steward and retain current donors, and upgrade donors to higher levels of giving.

Program review includes comprehensive review of materials, annual giving data, and in-depth analysis of specific program areas such as: leadership and mid-level programs, reunion/class agent programs, volunteer engagement, direct marketing (mail, phone programs and online giving), social media strategy, young alumni and student philanthropy, parent giving, faculty/staff campaigns, grateful patient programs, recognition/stewardship of annual donors; and integration of annual giving and alumni/constituent relations.

S. Sutton & Associates Inc. has the technical expertise to work with your team to maximize your potential. Schedule a 30-minute complimentary consultation today, and in just a 30-minute call receive invaluable, actionable advice and much more.

Welcome new Associates!

S. Sutton & Associates Inc. is a global network of consultants providing customized Innovation Teams of subject experts with specific technical expertise to help nonprofit organizations and philanthropists maximize their philanthropic efforts and achieve significant impact. This month we welcome:

Eric Saarvala, Senior Associate

With more than 20 years of experience in the nonprofit sector, and in corporate social responsibility, Eric Saarvala, MBA, CSR-P, G. Dipl. SR&S, specializes in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR), and has additional significant expertise in Advancement Services, Alumni Relations and Giving, Counsel and Support for Philanthropists and Risk Management and Fundraising Governance.

Previous experience includes: Strategic Account Executive, CSR, Employee Engagement, Foundations & Nonprofit Solutions for Blackbaud, Advisor to Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR), Manager, Charitable Foundation Services, Scotiatrust, Scotia Private Client Group, Scotiabank and Associate Director Donations Management, Division of University Advancement, University of Toronto.

Eric holds a BA in French and an Executive MBA from the Western University Ivey Business School, a Graduate Diploma in Social Responsibility & Sustainability from the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto ,and was designated as a Certified Corporate Social Responsibility Practitioner by the Centre for Sustainability & Excellence.

Eric is an in-demand thought leader in CSR/sustainability, philanthropy and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). He sits on the Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR) Education Foundation Board of Directors and is a member of the Imagine Canada Board of Directors’ Risk Management, Finance and Audit Committee.

Jessica Lunken, Senior Associate

With close to three decades of experience in non-profit leadership, Jessica Lunken has earned a reputation as an engaged and thoughtful program builder serving mission-driven organizations. She has a successful track record in raising major and principal gifts, building development and grateful-patient programs, and helping lead multi-billion-dollar campaigns.

Jessica’s work at Johns Hopkins University spanned two plus decades where she served as the Associate Dean for External Relations at the Peabody Institute, was a founding Director of Development for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Associate Director of Development for the Bloomberg School of Public Health. Jessica has also served in various fundraising capacities for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Kalamazoo Symphony, Johns Hopkins University Press, the American Dance Festival, the Jewish Center for Aging in Greater Washington and Beth Am Synagogue.

Jessica received her Bachelor’s in Arts in Psychology from Indiana University, her Master’s in Business Administration from the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, and certificates from the Creative Education Foundation for problem-solving, facilitation, and creativity.

Webinar Series

Georgia Spiliotopoulos, in her capacity as Business Development Strategist, has brought together a terrific team of Associates –– Tiffany Rosso, Debbie Flinn, Randy Gorod, Tracy Woodard, Jeanne Bray, and Eric Saarvala –– to curate and create webinars for our clients and to develop a series for the general public.

Each is available as a stand-alone or as part of a series, and available for individuals, small groups, or organization/companywide attendees. Optional mentoring and coaching sessions, provided by the presenter, are offered to complement each, providing additional support.

Catalogue of Topics

Presented by Dr. Tracy Woodard:

  • Principles of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) through an Institutional and Systemic Lens
  • How Categories of Difference become Systems of Inequities
  • Identifying and Eliminating Inequities
  • Empowering Women in the Workplace

Presented by Randy Gorod:

  • Practical Guide to Navigating Challenging Times in the Development World Bringing Development into the Virtual World
  • Organization Assessment and Realizing Your Staff’s Need for Coaching and Mentoring

Presented by Jeanne Bray:

  • Logic Models for Strategic Planning

Presented by Debbie Flinn:

  • Philanthropy Basics & Setting Up Gift Cycles (different types of gifts including grants, corporate, annual, online, SMS, Major Gifts and Planned Giving and finding prospects, development cycle)
  • Diversification of Gifts (don’t put all your eggs in one basket)
  • Maximizing Major Gifts
  • Board Training
  • Grant Writing
  • Volunteer Management
  • Communications Touchpoints and Story Telling
  • Making the ASK
  • Donor Retention and Engagement strategies
  • Stewardship
  • Strategic Planning
  • Major and Principal Gifts – getting started, maximizing, and course-correcting
  • Philanthropy Risk Toolkit
  • Giving Circles and Mid-Level Clubs
  • Women and Philanthropy
  • Data-Driven Campaign Planning

Presented by Tiffany Rosso:

  • Getting Back to the Office, HR/Liability Considerations
  • Emerging trends in Philanthropy
  • Virtual Fundraising Trends

Presented by Eric Saarval:

  • Digital Technology and Transformation, the Future of Philanthropy

Please contact Georgia Spiliotopoulos for additional information if you are interested in scheduling a webinar for yourself or your team.


– The Mastercard Foundation announced a $1.3 billion donation to boost Africa’s response to the coronavirus, which public health experts hailed as a significant step to get vaccines to some of the world’s poorest people. “Ensuring equitable access and delivery of vaccines across Africa is urgent,” Reeta Roy, the foundation’s chief executive, said in a statement. “This initiative is about valuing all lives and accelerating the economic recovery of the continent.” The funding, which will be distributed over three years in partnership with the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is intended to help acquire vaccines for more than 50 million of the continent’s 1.3 billion people, improve its vaccine manufacturing and delivery system, and strengthen public health institutions.

East and South Asia

– Meituan founder Wang Xing has donated a $2.3 billion stake in the Chinese food delivery giant to his own philanthropic foundation, joining other internet billionaires in giving back as Beijing mounts a crackdown on the tech sector. Meituan’s chairman and chief executive officer transferred 57.3 million shares to the organization, the company said. That’s about a 10th of the billionaire’s stake in the company, worth HK$17.6 billion ($2.27 billion) based on its last close.


– A Group of Seven plan to donate 1 billion COVID-19 vaccine doses to poorer countries lacks ambition, is far too slow and shows Western leaders are not yet on top of tackling the worst public health crisis in a century, according to campaigners. While the head of the United Nations welcomed the move, even he said more was needed. Antonio Guterres warned that if people in developing countries were not inoculated quickly, the virus could mutate further and become resistant to the new vaccines. “We need more than that,” he said of the G7 plan. “We need a global vaccination plan. We need to act with a logic, with a sense of urgency, and with the priorities of a war economy, and we are still far from getting that.”

– The European Union and an energy investment program founded by Bill Gates plan to raise up to $1 billion to roll out the low-carbon technologies Europe is betting on to meet its climate change goals. The partnership would see Gates-founded Breakthrough Energy use private capital and philanthropic funds to match funding provided by the EU. The aim is to together provide up to 820 million euros, or $1 billion, from 2022 to 2026. Support will target hydrogen produced from renewable energy, sustainable aviation fuels, technology to suck CO2 out of the atmosphere, and long-duration energy storage.

North America

– Apple Inc. announced that it will give $5 million to four historically Black universities to help expand their engineering programs for designing the chips that power electronic devices. Apple said the $5 million will be spread across Alabama A&M University, Howard University, in Washington, D.C., Morgan State University, in Baltimore, and Prairie View A&M University, in Texas, over three years. The money comes from Apple’s broader racial justice initiative, which it announced last year with $100 million in initial funding. The grants will support each school’s engineering departments and seek to focus expanding course work in fields like computing architecture and designing chips. The money will also support fellowships and internships in hardware technologies, Apple said.

– Western Michigan University has received a $550 million gift from a group of alumni, a record for a public university that more than doubles the school’s endowment. The foundation for the Kalamazoo, Mich., university will get $200 million earmarked for the main university, $300 million for its medical school and $50 million for athletics. The money will fund scholarships, medical research, student support programs and more, the school said. The donors have requested to remain anonymous. “The size and impact of this gift will generate opportunities not just for this year, not just for next year but will catalyze opportunities that will change the condition and transform lives for generations to come,” said President Edward Montgomery.

– A campaign to establish a chair in Tamil studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough – the first of its kind in Canada – has reached its $3-million philanthropic goal. More than 3,800 donors gave to the grassroots campaign, which was spearheaded by the Canadian Tamil Congress and Tamil Chair Inc. in 2018. Since then, individuals, businesses, governments and community organizations have pitched in with support. While most of the donors are local to Scarborough and the eastern Greater Toronto Area, the campaign also generated support from as far away as France, Australia and Malaysia.

– Billionaire MacKenzie Scott, ex-wife of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, has donated another $2.7bn (£1.9bn) to a range of charities. Ms Scott said in a blog post that she wanted to give the money to those “that have been historically underfunded and overlooked”. She wrote that she had chosen 286 organizations working on racial inequality, the arts and education.

– A Colorado couple is donating $25 million to a capital campaign for Maine Medical Center, the state’s largest hospital. The largest single donation to the hospital comes from John and Leslie Malone, who spend summers in Boothbay Harbor. Leslie Malone recently received cardiac care at the hospital. “We were very impressed by the level of care that Leslie received at Maine Medical Center,” John Malone said in a statement. “We believe strongly in supporting healthcare innovation, and ensuring that all who call Maine home have access to world-class care.” The donation will go to the hospital’s $150 million capital improvement program. A new tower for cardiac and vascular service, which will be named for the Malones, will consolidate the hospital’s cardiac and vascular care into one building. It will feature modern surgery space and 64 patient beds.

– The Eccles name is already ubiquitous on the University of Utah’s campus, from its David Eccles School of Business to its football team’s Rice-Eccles Stadium. With its biggest single gift yet, the family is now adding the Spencer F. Eccles School of Medicine to its collection. Two of the family’s foundations announced that they’re partnering to give $110 million to the university’s medical school to support the construction of a new 248,000-square foot building and bolster its endowment and research funding. The school will be named for Spencer Fox Eccles, the 86-year-old third-generation patriarch and former chairman and CEO of banking company First Security Corporation, which Wells Fargo acquired for $2.9 billion in 2000.

– Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti and his wife, Renee, will donate $4 million to Maryland’s historically Black universities to create scholarships for 80 graduates of Baltimore City Public Schools, a gift described as “life-changing” by university leaders and Baltimore Mayor Brandon Scott. The scholarship program, paired with a $400,000 donation to the CollegeBound Foundation, will carry the name of longtime Ravens executive Ozzie Newsome, the first Black general manager in NFL history. “We embrace the responsibility of discovering ways to strengthen educational opportunities for the youth of Baltimore City,” Steve Bisciotti said in a statement. “Any positive impact that can be made to help students — especially in the pursuit of a college education and their career goals — only strengthens our community as a whole.”

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