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End of The Year Reflections: Rising to the Occasion

December has arrived and, as we often do at this time of year, we are reflecting back on all we’ve accomplished in partnership with our cherished clients, community-based organizational leaders who placed their trust in Lydia Sierra Consulting (LSC) in 2021. Though COVID-19 didn’t go away and we all faced another challenging year, we are proud to say that with hard work, the LSC team helped our client organizations to not only survive - but to thrive!

We were able to rise to the occasion because we are a nimble and adaptable team, with the necessary capacity to deliver fund and organizational development services remotely. As a result, we supported our clients as they restructured programming to safely meet their communities’ needs and deliver direct aid to those hardest hit by the effects of COVID. We also shifted our focus to identify and secure significant COVID relief funding for our client organizations, helping to ensure that their doors remained open during a time when their constituencies needed them most. Yes, we had to buckle down and work more hours, but we continued to do what we always have done: meet our clients where they are (sometimes literally!) to give them vital support for times like these.  

Throughout the year, we worked closely with our clients’ staff, leadership, and sometimes Board, gaining deep knowledge of their programs, systems, needs, goals, and funding gaps, allowing us to become a collaborative partner in visioning the most effective and efficient path to mission-driven growth in the wake of COVID. We also took on new roles with our clients during this unique year, helping to expand their internal capacity and fill gaps in strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation, budget forecasting, and more. And we were ready. 

Since January 2021 the LSC team has grown from 5 to 14 members. Located all over the United States and throughout the world, they bring expertise in grant management, prospect research, proposal development, budget planning, digital media, strategic planning, monitoring and evaluation, Salesforce customization, marketing, and Board development and activation, capital campaigns, and individual donor campaigns. Our remote-based business model allows us to tap talent and provide high quality client service without geographic boundaries. 

Because of our amazing client organizations, we will continue to grow in 2022. LSC’s mission is to support community-led organizations that address the lasting impacts of social, economic, and racial inequities. We embrace the mindset of faithful stewards of the community, and we are asking you, our readers, to consider donating to the groups we support with a year-end gift this holiday season. Each of these organizations is doing high impact work in marginalized, underserved communities. Your dollars will directly support their important work supporting individuals and families that suffer disproportionately from poverty, violence, and disease, with limited access to resources and opportunities to improve their quality of life. I hope you can help!

Accompany Capital:  Accompany Capital creates a pathway to self-sufficiency for immigrant and refugee entrepreneurs in New York City by providing access to affordable credit, empowering with financial education, and offering training in best business practices and technology.

To donate visit: www.accompanycapital.org/get-involved/#donate

Battle Tested Kids: Battle Tested Kids guides disadvantaged at-risk youth to become positive, well rounded, educated, compassionate, leaders of tomorrow. Through participation in organized sports training and competition we focus on self discipline, leadership, accountability, healthy living, teamwork and responsibility. 

To donate visit:  www.battletestedinc.com/donate

Justice for Families: J4F is a national alliance of local organizations committed to ending the youth incarceration epidemic. We are founded and run by parents and families who have experienced the juvenile justice system with their children.

To donate visit: www.justice4families.org/home/donate-2

Living Redemption:  Living Redemption works to "Save Lives and Heal Communities One Relationship at a Time" by providing Harlem’s most vulnerable youth and families with intensive Credible Messenger-led mentoring, family engagement and advocacy, and 24-hour crisis intervention and mediation.  

To donate visit: www.livingredemption.org/donate

Music on the Inside:  Music on the Inside (MOTI) is dedicated to reducing recidivism, and lowering the social and financial costs of the current criminal justice system through music and mentorships with musicians.

To donate visit: www.musicontheinside.org/donate

Paving Great Futures:  Paving Great Futures empowers youth and adults to be self-sufficient through education programs intended to expose individuals to different economic and business opportunities. Our intent is to create a path to financial sustainability while stimulating social change through community involvement.

To donate visit: .https://secure.givelively.org/donate/paving-great-futures/giving-through-us-not-to-us

WE STAY/Nos Quedamos: WE STAY/Nos Quedamos, Inc. is a South Bronx-based CDC committed to our collective self-determination. Our sustainable development work creates the conditions that maintain our health and culture. Our work engages, empowers, and transforms marginalized communities to remain and thrive. 

To donate visit: www.nosquedamos.org

Youth Empowerment: Youth Empowerment works to heal and transform historically oppressed and marginalized individuals and communities in San Diego. They inspire leadership through community mentorship, resilience building, advocacy, and system transformation for high-need individuals and families. 

To donate visit: youthempowermentsd.com

Youth Ministries for Peace and Justice:  YMPJ  works to rebuild the neighborhoods of Bronx River and Soundview/Bruckner Boulevard in the South Bronx by preparing community members to become prophetic voices for peace and justice.  

To donate visit: www.ympj.org/donate

Young Urban Christians & Artists: YUCA works to ensure that all teenagers fulfill their creative potential and have the opportunity to address community issues that matter to them. YUCA programs provide students an essential creative outlet and new technical skills, as well as, opportunities to explore social justice issues through the creative production process.

To donate visit: www.yucaarts.org/donate

Do You Know Your Impact?

Monitoring and Evaluation Systems Can Better Help You Understand Your Organization’s Impact

Your organization is mission-driven and without a doubt, making a positive impact in your community. But can you point to clear metrics when asked how your organization is doing and how you’re making a difference? Do you know your funder’s priorities and how they understand impact? Can you compare your outcomes to the state or the national average? 

Monitoring and evaluation systems offer organizations an effective way to tell your constituents, funders, and stakeholders what you do and how your approach and strategies are working. It can also be a tool to determine your group’s next steps and future growth.

Lydia Sierra Consulting (LSC) is now offering groups like yours services to develop a monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system specific to your needs. LSC will help nonprofits standardize their data collection and analysis systems, develop important questions that will guide program and project evaluations, and once the data and information is collected, generate regular reports for donors and stakeholders. LSC will work with you to develop clear and compelling evidence of programmatic impact and unify and simplify the data collection and analysis process, reducing the reporting burden on program staff. 

LSC offers services to develop three M&E approaches:

  • Organization-wide M&E systems that track each project or program within an integrated, organization-wide framework.

  • Project-specific M&E that is used as a tool to communicate with project funders about what was completed, how the money was used to meet goals and objectives, and what the funder’s investment will produce long term.

  • One-time impact evaluations that cover a variety of topics that often focus on your programs rather than the organization as a whole. These tend to be more like a "report card" of a project or program. 

LSC believes that the best evaluations are user-focused and driven by the people who are the true experts: staff, clients, and stakeholders. Therefore, we work with you to co-develop systems that reflect your needs, your staff capacity, and the demands of your stakeholders. All of our work begins with a needs assessment where we define the parameters of the project and identify key resources. We will then engage in interviews, discussion sessions, document review, and external research to build the most appropriate system. LSC always works closely with a key staff member from your organization and conducts consensus building activities to ensure that the resulting system is truly co-produced. Through it all, we assess staff capacity, the appropriateness, and any potential limitations. LSC also helps integrate the M&E process with CRM software, such as Salesforce, to streamline your data collection and report development.

For many, adding M&E to their operations may seem like a lot.  And while measuring your impact, defining your successes, and identifying your areas of growth may be a monumental task, let LSC be your partner to establish this incredibly important component of an organization’s best practices.

Salesforce Customization Creates a Powerful Fund Development Tool

Among the many services Lydia Sierra Consulting (LSC) offers, one of our most impactful is Salesforce customization. Salesforce is a powerful tool to help you manage your fund development systems to meet revenue goals. When structured properly, a customized Salesforce system will allow you to operate effectively, raise funds, and connect with constituents. 

Your organization will benefit from our Salesforce customization services, and LSC Salesforce-certified team members are ready to help. We provide five areas of Salesforce customization services, all with the goal of strengthening your fundraising work:

1. Grants Management: 

Our customized Salesforce system will centralize information so that your organization has a list of all the foundations and agencies with which you work. It will also give you the ability to manage your grant deliverables, track each grant, run grants reports, and develop a quick reference grant dashboard. For some of our clients we even add Grant Deliverables and assign them to staff as a project management tool to ensure that deliverables are met. 

2. Individual Donor Management: 

Salesforce customization will create a donation tracking system from pledge to payment and allow you to generate donation receipts. Additionally, we’ll set things up so you can access personalized email templates for donor communication, individual giving history, run all types of donation reports, and develop a quick reference donor dashboard.

3. Contact Management:

With our customization service, you will be able to gather new names using Salesforce’s contact forms which are compatible with other 3rd party apps. We’ll capitalize on Salesforce’s ability to auto populate contact information into Salesforce. For groups who conduct outreach programs, we can design Salesforce to run engagement tracking and report the number of programs or events a contact has been associated with the organization. It will also track points of data like volunteer hours, giving history or any other custom details.

4. Program Management:

We can customize Salesforce to be a powerful tool to help organizations manage their programs. We’ll help set up the system to create and track your program and event details, as well as track attendees. You will also have access to a program report and program dashboard to keep track in real time.

5.  Data Migration: 

We’ll provide data migration services to move existing data from an Excel format into Salesforce for the above applications.

For more information, reply to this email info@lydiasierraconsulting.com and let me know if you have any questions and we’ll schedule a time to chat. 

All the best,

Lydia

Act Now to Work With My Team on Your Next Capacity Building Project!

Dear Friends of New York City,

Communities of Color Nonprofit Stabilization Fund (CCNSF), an initiative of the City of New York, has announced its call for applications for grants of up to $45,000 for Black, Latino, and Asian-led community organizations based throughout the city with budgets between $150,000 and $2 million. Qualified organizations are able to use this funding to work with a consultant on a capacity-building project. 

I am thrilled to announce that Lydia Sierra Consulting is available to provide professional services for applicant organizations to help strengthen their ability to fulfill their mission. 

Over the past several years, Lydia Sierra Consulting has worked with numerous CCNSF grantees, helping them scale up their fund development efforts, raise much needed programmatic funding, and create diversified funding portfolios to support their operations. 

This year we are ready to work with eligible organizations in three of the following CCNSF capacity-building areas: 

  • Management information systems design and development: This includes customizing case management and data tracking systems, and building related staff skills necessary for managing work more effectively (e.g., tracking client demographic data, service utilization, and progress toward outcomes).
  • Financial management and planning: This includes assessment, planning, and development of financial systems, as well as staff skills-building to improve reporting and enable organizations to identify the most cost-effective services.
  • Evaluation and outcomes system development: This includes the development of systems to monitor client needs, referral sources, and services provided; implementation of systems to measure and/or service recipient satisfaction and/or service recipient outcomes; develop programmatic success measures; and develop evaluation capacity.
  • Strategy and organizational development: This includes efforts to create a staff performance review process; a strategic or operational/annual plan; a communications or marketing plan; and a fundraising or donor development plan. 


Specifically, we are ready to help organizations with
Strategic Planning, Monitoring & Evaluation, and Salesforce Customization
for those in need of developing their management information systems.


So how can our capacity-building services increase your impact? Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is your organization positioned to weather the COVID-19 “storm” long-term and operate effectively despite an uncertain future?
  • Are you prepared to take advantage of funding opportunities made available to address the needs of your community during this incredibly challenging time?
  • Does your organization have an updated strategic plan with clear goals and objectives that provide direction for your team so they are ready to take action?
  • Are you measuring and communicating your organization’s community impact and using this information to secure the resources you need to strengthen your work?

If these issues are pain points in your organization, the Lydia Sierra Consulting team is ready to help. The CCNSF application is due October 22nd, 2021 at 5 PM EST and we can assist with your application and provide supporting materials needed to complete your submission.

You will need to take action quickly. To get started, schedule a time to meet with Lydia Sierra on Calendly or email your inquiry to Lydia Sierra at lsierra@lydiasierraconsulting.com to discuss your capacity building project.

You must also submit an interest survey. Once completed, you’ll be emailed a unique CCNSF application for your organization. 

We are excited to partner with your organization and provide the professional services you will need to strengthen your operations. Feel free to forward this opportunity to other groups who might be interested in applying for CCNSF funding. 


All the best,

Lydia 

P.S. Consultants can only be awarded up to 3 contracts, therefore act now if you are interested in working with me and my team!

P.P.S. Help me spread the word by sharing this email with other NYC CBO’s that can benefit from this opportunity!

Strategic Planning

If you’ve worked for non profit organizations, chances are you have been part of some form of a strategic planning process. Strategic planning is a term describing an activity that creates a document that serves as a path for an organization to move forward to fulfill its mission. There seems to be some mixed feelings about strategic planning, however. The process has a reputation of being onerous, time consuming, and ineffective. But if done well, strategic planning can be a transformative experience that builds a sense of purpose, creates clarity, and strengthens an organization’s ability to make a meaningful societal impact. 

A good strategic planning process does the following:

  • Creates space to be reflective.
  • Allows teams to acknowledge their accomplishments, as well as their challenges, understand their current situation, and work together to build a vision for its future.
  • Involves all parts of the organization, from the entry-level worker to the Executive Director, to the board of directors, to the recipient of the organization’s services. 
  • Develops short-term and long-term actionable plans. Once the plan is finalized, a date should be set for the group to come together to report on the progress made on the action items and make changes to the plan so it better reflects reality.
  • Identifies a set of values that serves as a “compass” for the organization as it grows and changes. 
  • Promotes honesty and transparency.
  • Identifies and works from common ground ideas.

Once the strategic plan is written, follow up is key. Revisiting and updating the plan helps the team measure its progress and make course corrections if needed. These plans usually plot out a direction for 2 - 5 years, and the first 18 months should be quite detailed, describing a set of steps to take, with names of people who are responsible for the implementation. The part of the plan focused on the next 18 - 36 months is more general - a grand sketch of what the organization is reaching for. The details can be filled in when it gets closer to the target dates. 

These are just general ideas about strategic planning. At Lydia Sierra Consulting, we consider the client when determining a planning process and the final outcome. The primary objective is for the plan to reflect the needs of the organization and to be used - not placed on a shelf, never to be used. We ask a lot of questions, learn about the organizational culture, and work collaboratively with the client to design and conduct strategic planning. 

If you are interested in a consultation to learn more about how we approach Strategic Planning, you can schedule a 30-minute call here: https://calendly.com/lydiasierraconsulting/30min

All the best,

Lydia

P.S. Stay tuned for our next blog on how we approach Monitoring & Evaluation!

Seeking Experienced Proposal Writer

We are looking to hire a freelance Proposal Writer to help us prepare a variety of government contract, private foundation, and corporate grant proposals, as well as letters of interest, reports, and other development materials for our client roster of non- profit organizations. This position will report to the Fund Development Manager and work with the LSC Team. The ideal candidate is creative, proactive, detail-oriented and an excellent communicator, with a demonstrated interest in urban communities, youth and family services, community development, environmental stewardship, community organizing, and more. A background in community-based non-profit organizations serving marginalized urban communities would be beneficial.

The key capacity necessary to be successful in this position is the ability to synthesize information and language from a variety of sources to write compelling, persuasive proposals that are focused to match the priorities of specific funders and funding opportunities. The ideal candidate will work remotely and have the time, interest, and flexibility to engage with the work and sometimes accommodate quick turnarounds.

Background Requirements:
       ● 3+ years nonprofit development experience, or other relevant experience (including academic research and writing, or other)
       ● Experience researching funders and funding opportunities for specific organizations and/or programs (ie prospect research) is a plus
       ● Experience putting together project and organizational budgets is a plus
       ● Excellent interpersonal and project management skills
       ● Strong communication skills, including writing and editing

Please send your resume and at least two writing samples to: Lydia Sierra at info@lydiasierraconsulting.com

What is Grant Management?

Grant management is the process of ensuring that the deliverables of all your grants are met, and that all your contract requirements are satisfied. The work of grants doesn’t end when the proposal is submitted. There is so much more that goes into the process of administering grant-funded projects — it’s not always as easy as submitting proposals and watching the money roll in. Oftentimes, more complicated grants can require regular attention from you and your team from the moment the award letter is received to the submission of the final report.

Every funder is a little bit different. Some want quarterly narrative reports, expect constant updates on grant progress and financials, and require you to submit heaps of evidence to demonstrate that you are, in actuality, completing the work you proposed to do. Alternatively, some funders will provide minimal oversight, paying out the full value of the grant upfront and only asking for periodic updates.

You might be thinking: seems like an easy solution, I’ll just take money from grantors who don’t provide a huge amount of oversight. But here’s the catch: big money comes with big responsibilities. If you want to win major government and private sector grants — the kind that can bring your impact to the next level — you’re going to have to develop impactful systems. Big-time funders aren’t going to just give away their money without checking in to make sure their contribution is making the impact they expect. That’s where grant management comes in.

If your grant-funded project goes off without a hitch — no late submissions, missing grant reports, or failed deliverables — you’re much more likely to receive a renewal from your funder, allowing you to build a reliable stream of income year after year. Additionally, the more streamlined your grants management process, the less time you have to spend stressing over reports and deliverables, and the more time you can spend submitting new proposals for funding.

Sure, it can seem daunting to submit eight or more reports a year and provide regular updates to your program officer, especially when you have dozens of other grants to manage, but with a sophisticated system for grants management, it’s a cinch.

And the less time you have to spend on those tedious administrative tasks, the more time you have for things that matter, like delivering high-impact transformative programming to your community.

How Can LSC Help?

The key to a successful grant management system is organization. Keeping all of your grant-related materials and deadlines in one easily accessible repository allows for a seamless reporting and invoicing process. 

At LSC, we’ll take a look at your existing systems and conduct a comprehensive assessment of your current organizational capacity to manage grantors. If you don’t have a system in place, or would like to upgrade your system, we will provide you with a brand new Salesforce database customized for grant management.

A customized Salesforce database can act as a central hub for all your grant-related materials, from proposals to award letters to scanned checks. Having all of these materials in one place is valuable for a variety of reasons:

  • Auditing Process: As a nonprofit, you’re required to go through an annual audit to ensure compliance with federal and state regulations for 501(c)(3) organizations. Having easy access to all your grant-related files can make the auditing process a breeze, allowing you to quickly access any and all materials your auditors might need to review.
  • Staff Turnover: Systems can get disrupted when staff move onto new opportunities, making it difficult for new hires to get up to speed and locate the files they need to work effectively. With a customized Salesforce database, the whole of your organization’s grantmaking history is in one place, making the transition to new staff as seamless as possible.
  • Data Analytics: Salesforce comes equipped with some pretty amazing data analysis capabilities. Using Salesforce, you can conduct advanced reporting to analyze your grant-making performance year over year and figure out which strategies are working and which are slowing you down.
  • Grant Reporting: Having all your data in one place can make the grant reporting process a breeze. Rather than having to reach out to program staff to get updates on deliverables, all of your grant-related information can be accessed in one central place, allowing your development staff to quickly and seamlessly create reports for funders.

If you think a customized Salesforce database is a good fit for you, please reach out to me and my team. We’ve helped dozens of nonprofits gain access to the tools they need to get organized and crush their development goals.

Client Success Stories

When Accompany Capital was looking to expand their capacity to deliver high-impact investment and hands-on support to business-owning immigrants in New York City, we set them up with a brand new customized Salesforce database to help them get more ambitious in their fundraising. Equipped with this new software, they’ve been able to access and manage an expanded grant-making portfolio, allowing them to scale their impact and positively engage more businesses in the NYC area.

As Justice for Families began to strategize on a new, transformative approach to end the youth incarceration epidemic, they realized they would need a more comprehensive database in order to keep track of complicated deliverables and reporting requirements for their various grants. Through my Salesforce customization program, they’ve gained access to the industry standard for grant management and are breezing through their grant requirements, giving them more time to focus on their services to the community.

Next Steps

The less time and resources you have to spend on grant management, the more you can focus on what really matters: transforming lives in your community. With all your data stored in one organized repository, the most tedious tasks suddenly become manageable. And let’s be honest, we didn’t enter the nonprofit world to spend all our time submitting reports and answering funders. We did it to make a difference in our communities.

So if you feel like you’re caught in an endless loop of wrangling reports, audits, and documents, reach out to me and my experienced team of grant managers today. Together, we’ll take a look at your current systems for grant management, and create a customized Salesforce database that is perfectly suited to your needs. Let’s get back to what matters. Sign up for my grant management services today.

Foundation Research

Prospect research is the process through which non-profit organizations identify foundations, corporate groups, government agencies, and individuals who might be interested in funding their work. By looking at a funder’s previous giving, funding priorities, and giving capacity, you can determine whether or not they might be a good fit for your organization.

Prospect research is one of the most powerful tools you can employ to scale the impact of your non-profit. At some of the most successful non-profit institutions, whole departments are devoted solely to this task, helping the organization locate new donors and funding sources and continue to grow.

For the purpose of this article, we are going to dive into foundation research.

What does foundation research look like?

In many cases, foundation research can be as simple as a quick Google search. The past giving and funding priorities of foundations, corporate groups, and government agencies is publicly available through their 990s, press releases, and public online resources. With a little digging, a surprising amount of information can be found.

However, the true potential of foundation research is realized through specialized search engines which compile all the relevant information for you. Using a keyword search, you can quickly locate all the funders operating in your specific niche, making it much more efficient than organic research.

Additionally, foundation research search engines allow you to get as specific or general as you desire. Looking for funders who’ve funded projects right in your neighborhood? Foundation research search engines can do that for you. Alternatively, if you’re just starting out and looking to cast a wide net, you can execute a more general search and get a big picture view of the funding landscape in your general program area.

What are the major foundation research search engines?

There are a number of foundation search engines out there, but this blog will focus on the two major search engines that we use here at LSC: Foundation Directory Online (FDO) and Foundation Search (FS).

Foundation Search is North America’s leading source of funding information for non-profits and charities. It provides funding information, fundraising education, and consulting services to over 5,000 clients. Their database includes 120,000 foundations, representing billions of dollars in annual granting. It usefully includes tools to locate grants by type, value, year, recipient, donor and historical giving trends, and much more. 

Foundation Directory Online has over 235,000 funder profiles and information on over 1,100,000 key decision makers and leaders in the philanthropic sector. Much like Foundation Search, it includes a handful of useful tools that filter this expansive database of funder information in order to locate the best funding sources for your organization.

How does LSC approach foundation research?

The good news is that we at LSC are experts in foundation research. Not only does our team include 2 PhD researchers, but LSC is also a member of both Foundation Directory Online and Foundation Search. We have the expertise to get the most out of these search engines, using advanced search functions to identify the best matches for our clients, and ensuring that they have access to a diverse cache of potential funders.

LSC provides strategic fundraising planning sessions where we discuss the mission and the long- and short-term goals of your organization. We look at your environment, your partnerships, your comparison organizations and who their funders are, as well as second-degree connections to request introductions to foundation staff. We scour the search engines for you, sifting through the thousands of options to find the foundations with the highest chance of success for your unique organization. Next, we create a Fund Development Calendar, a spreadsheet in which we list the foundations whose missions align with yours, organized by deadline. This list is researched and gathered by our professional researchers who understand non-profit organizational development. We then review the list with you to find connections and discuss the best approach for reaching out. Our goal is to speak directly to someone at the foundation and introduce your organization and programs rather than submit a cold Letter of Inquiry (LOI) or proposal. 

There are millions of funders out there, and LSC will help you find the funder that is right for you.

LSC Success Stories

LSC has helped dozens of organizations achieve their maximum potential through comprehensive foundation research, helping them identify possible funders and scale their impacts. 

When COVID-19 struck the Bronx, We Stay/Nos Quedamos quickly pivoted to meet the most drastic issues facing their community. Together with LSC, they used Foundation Center Online to locate emergency relief funding in their borough and fund transformative community projects at a critical time.

For the past three years, Youth Ministries for Peace & Justice (YMPJ) have worked with LSC on fund development projects. During that time, YMPJ has located and developed relationships with a variety of new funders and strengthened their financial stability. With a cache of new resources accessible to them, YMPJ is now able to pursue some of their most aspirational goals and achieve impacts they never thought possible for their community.

LSC Can Help

Foundation research, when done properly, can be one of the most effective fundraising strategies in your toolkit. Often, there are perfect matches right in your neighborhood looking to fund projects exactly like yours the only problem is that you aren’t aware of each other.

Relying on Google searches, organic networking, and word of mouth can leave gaps in your organization’s funding resources. Without comprehensive research, money can be left on the table and new relationships can go undiscovered.

Unfortunately, in our industry, bandwidth is always limited, and it can be hard to devote adequate time to this sometimes tedious task. That’s where LSC can help. Our team of experienced development professionals, dedicated solely to making the most of the resources and funding that may be available to you, can be an invaluable resource for your organization. We can implement a comprehensive fund development plan; diversify your revenue base; offer strategic support for you to approach, develop, and strengthen donor relationships; and give you access to the best foundation directory databases in the business, freeing you up to focus on strengthening your organization and unlocking the potential of your mission.

Don’t leave money on the table and reach out to learn more about our Fund Development program, and maximize the impact of your organization.

Happy New Year

End of Year Reflections

2020 revealed many of our capacity issues i.e. emotional, physical, technological, and financial, to name a few. I’ve had to do a lot of capacity work this year to manage and prepare for growth. This meant that I had to take inventory of my strengths and weaknesses. I had to take a deep hard look at my mental, physical and emotional capacity to take on more responsibility, to be present for my family, my clients, and my team. I had to look at my lifestyle, my eating, sleeping, recreational and productivity habits, and I had to invest in myself.

Many of us are striving to do more and we seek mentors who can help us with strategy, but take it from me, someone who has mentors in different areas of my life, it’s not so much about strategy as it is about capacity. We must do the deep work to build our capacity to handle the trials and the opportunities that will come our way.

I remember when I was in my late twenties and received my first executive job and salary package. I was elated. But in one year I learned that I did not have the emotional capacity to do my job effectively. Those of us who live by faith know that we will receive the increase, but we must ask ourselves, will we be able to manage it?

2020 has revealed so much about what is truly important. Here is a short list of what has stood out to me this year: family, sound mind, health, the environment, building personal and professional capacity to ensure our success, and the power of teamwork.

Let's take the wonderful lessons we've learned into 2021 and continue to advocate and serve those who need our gifts to ensure they live a just and dignified quality of life. "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few" Matthew 9:37. Let us not grow weary in doing good.


Thank You for Your Support

Heartfelt thanks to the special people who I've had the privilege of calling my team this year - Megan Rozzero who has been with me for 5 years, Jamie Anderson, who has been with me for 2 years, and Michael Denney, who has been with us for a little over 1 year. We accomplished so much together!

To the many colleagues that I've been able to depend on, such as: Sister Islah who has successfully helped my clients obtain their 501c3s; Michael Roach, for his marketing savvy; Sachin Prasad for his Salesforce skills; and Greg Cohen for his expertise in board development and the quality referrals he made to my business this year. I am most grateful for his introducing me to Judy Levine, who then introduced me to Laurence Pagnoni, two experts in the field of business development, nonprofit management, and fundraising, who have so graciously provided me with next level mentoring this year. To coaches, Jeff St. Laurent, who provided me with business coaching, and Janelle Andersson, who provided me with emotional mastery coaching, whew, this has been hard work!

And, finally, to all of my clients:

A Blend of Services, Inc.

Accompany Capital (formerly Business Center for New Americans)

Battle Tested Kids, Inc.

Capital District Management Association, Inc. (dba 161st Street BID)

Cumpanis Community Cooking School

Gospel Temple Church / In Time of Need, Inc.

Justice for Families, Inc.

Living Redemption Community Development Corporation

Mi Casa Su Casa, Inc.

Mid Bronx Senior Citizens Council, Inc. / Andrew Freedman Home

Music on the Inside, Inc.

Paving Great Futures, Inc.

Ponce, NHS

Quisqueya Community Care Center, Inc.

Riseboro Community Partnership, Inc.

We Stay / Nos Quedamos, Inc.

Young, Fresh & Conscious, Inc.

Young Urban Christians & Artists, Inc.

Youth Empowerment, Inc.

Youth Ministries for Peace & Justice, Inc.


Thank you for trusting me with your vision and for choosing to grow with me. Thank you for sharing your pain points and inspiring me to build a business that meets your needs. I look forward to our continued success and collaboration.

To a healthy and prosperous new year!

Lydia xo

Has Your End-of-Year Fundraising Campaign Gotten Lost in the Shuffle?

It’s pretty late to start planning a fundraising campaign. Ideally, your year-end appeal would have gone out before Thanksgiving, but I’ve been in this field long enough to know that I’ll continue to hear from organizations I love and support, even as the date inches closer to the holidays.

I understand: You didn’t have the time or the capacity to plan a campaign, but you don’t want the year to end without making at least a small effort to raise funds. I’m here to tell you that all is not lost! There are still steps you can take to maximize the effectiveness of your last-minute appeal.

Here are some best practices and tips for launching a 4-Week Fundraising Campaign:

#1 Activate leadership and staff at all levels

To get things rolling, set up a meeting (or, if you can, a few meetings!) – with your Board, your staff, and maybe even your most active volunteers and constituents. The goal is to engage all of your most important stakeholders in the fundraising effort. Here’s an example of what the agenda might look like:

  • Introduce the fundraising campaign
  • Ask everyone if they will participate, and how much they might realistically raise from their personal networks. Ask them to create lists of prospective donors.
  • Tally up the donation projections and make fundraising goals for each team, i.e. Board, staff, volunteers
  • Create a fundraising campaign theme that will inform all forms of solicitation
  • Make sure that your website has a payment platform (i.e. Paypal, Stripe, etc.), or use FaceBook’s fundraising platform.
  • Schedule a second meeting to create the pitch, and ask that everyone come prepared to share their personal reason for supporting your organization
  • Set up a calendar with dates for calling personal networks. Remember, an email or a social media post is not enough to achieve real donor cultivation. Everyone must make their calls.

#2 Don’t expect to warm up a cold list at the end of the year

I see so many organizations that are not regularly active online or via email newsletter, but launch their fundraising campaigns with a social media or email ask. Imagine your response if you heard from a beloved friend only two times a year, and the second time they asked for money! You can see that it’s not the ideal strategy… I’m not saying you shouldn’t send an end-of-year email in conjunction with your campaign, but unless you are regularly engaged with your community in this way throughout the year, that email should focus more on sharing the impact of your work, than on asking for donations.

Let’s be real: At this point, your biggest opportunity for success is through direct solicitations: You, your Board members, and your staff and volunteers should start calling your closest colleagues and friends to cultivate those relationships. Though it’s still essential to plan and implement an appropriate online strategy, the focus of a late year-end appeal should be on personal networks – those people you already have close relationships with, and who are engaged and committed to your mission in some way.

Simultaneously, you should create weekly emails, blog posts, or video blogs, and four weeks worth of social media posts that educate and inform all followers of your organization’s mission, who you serve, and your impact in the field. Provide everyone who has agreed to participate in the fundraising campaign with the links to your social media and website, videos, marketing pieces, and other material they can send to their networks and post online.

#3 Check-In

Schedule a meeting and ask everyone to share their experiences with the phone calls and making their pitch. This will strengthen everyone’s confidence, give them fresh language and ideas, and inspire them to keep making calls. If any donations have come in, this is the perfect time to share what has been raised, and instigate some momentum!

#4 Remember to Say Thank-You

Not only to the donors, but to the Board members, staff, and volunteers who stepped up. Starting a campaign this late in the game requires dedicated people who are passionate about your organization and willing to extend themselves on your behalf. They deserve to be recognized as ambassadors of your organization.

Count your successes and examine the lessons you’ve learned. Consider this a test-run of your current fundraising capacity. No one should be made to feel bad because they weren’t able to give their all to this campaign under last-minute pressure. But those who were ready to open their networks and “make the ask” will learn from the process and be better prepared next year, when you will plan in advance to provide training and support for an even more successful campaign.

Let 2020 be the year when you immerse your organization in fundraising and develop a fundraising culture from the Board to the volunteers.

Let me know if you have any questions or if you found this article helpful.

All the best,

Lydia