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Philanthropy Wired Newsletter

Philanthropy Wired: January 2023

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.

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:

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

Evolving
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.

Optimized
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 РA 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 РAn organization’s talent pool both in terms of skill set and capacity needed to meet fundraising objectives.

Perspective РAn organization’s fundraising ideology surrounding key questions such as РWhat 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
(PRPD)

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. ‚ÄúInnovation has never been more important for environmental science,‚ÄĚ according to EPA‚Äôs 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.

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