Students target support for schools

By Todd Cohen

DURHAM, N.C. — In the fall of 2014, as an 11th-grader at Hillside High School in Durham, Jalen McGee submitted a proposal to the Durham Public Schools for funding and resources to support independent research he wanted to conduct on prosthetic limbs.

When the schools administration replied it lacked funds to sponsor his project, McGee quickly “went to work to plan how I could make sure that every student who comes after me who desires to conduct independent research in high school could have the opportunity to do so.”

McGee and a handful of other students formed The iMpact Education Foundation, a nonprofit that is trying to raise $5,000 to secure tax-exempt status from the Internal Revenue Service and get started.

Now overseen by a board of seven Hillside graduates who all are rising college freshmen, the Foundation aims to raise $200,000 by September 30, 2017, and will focus on providing funds for scholarships, teachers and student projects, and college-readiness workshops.

The Foundation’s board members will spend the next year raising money and recruiting college and high school students to support the fundraising effort. Between them, they will enroll this fall at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C. A&T State University in Greensboro, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, UNC-Charlotte and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn.

The Foundation aims to enlist honor societies at 30 to 40 high schools, for example, to partner on events such as spelling bees and science fairs to raise a total of $70,000.

It hopes to raise another $90,000 through crowdfunding campaigns, by creating iMpact Education Foundation clubs on college campuses that would solicit corporate donations, and by seeking challenge grants from companies that would match other funds the Foundation raises.

And it will try to raise another $40,000 in government and foundation grants.

Efforts to enrich the experience of high school students, including the purchase of resources and materials for student projects, and offering college-readiness workshops, will account for the biggest program at the new Foundation, says McGee, who was inducted into the academic Hall of Fame at Hillside High School and has been awarded Coca Cola, Goodnight and Blacks at Microsoft scholarships totaling $118,000.

“We’ve all gone through North Carolina public schools all our lives,” he says of the Foundation’s seven board members. “We asked what could have made our experience better. We decided to put more project-based learning into schools.”

A big focus, particularly in the face of government cuts in spending for public schools, will be supporting student projects and research, says McGee, who is working this summer handling quality assurance for the website and mobile app for Spiffy, a mobile car-wash company in Durham. He plans to major in electrical and computer engineering, and hopes after college to work for the Defense Advanced Project Research Agency.

“What we remember from each school year were the projects we did,” he says. “They help you retain more information.”

The Foundation also hopes each year to award 10 scholarships of $4,000 each to seniors graduating from North Carolina high schools, and to give $200 each to 100 teachers nominated by their students.

Teachers, McGee says, “are the backbone of our education system.”


UNC-CH newspaper turns to fundraising

By Todd Cohen

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The Daily Tar Heel, the 123-year-old student newspaper at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, is adding charitable fundraising to the nonprofit business model it launched in 1989.

Founded in 1893 as a publication of the school’s Athletic Association, the DTH for most of its history was supported by fees from students, who picked the editor in a campus-wide election.

But in 1993, a student referendum the newspaper sponsored ended the student fee and put the selection of the editor in the hands of an independent board created by the board of directors of a nonprofit created at the time to publish the newspaper.

Advertising sales had been generating enough revenue to cover operating costs, and the newspaper “wanted to give student fees back” for other campus organizations to use, while also removing “even the possible appearance of influence” from the university, says Kelly Wolff, general manager and director of the nonprofit, DTH Media Corp.

For the past five years, however, the nonprofit has posted an annual operating deficit ranging from $50,000 to over $100,000 on a budget of roughly $1 million, making up the difference from a reserve fund. And it now faces the need to replace outmoded newsroom technology, and provide scholarships and travel expenses for student staff, she says.

It has formed an alumni association to spearhead an annual fund campaign and host receptions throughout the U.S. And it is preparing for a capital campaign to raise about $300,000 or more.

“We are starting for the first time to ask our alumni to support the parts of our educational mission that are no longer being fully supported by our ad revenue,” Wolff says.

Operating in an office in downtown Chapel Hill — it moved off campus in 2010 — and with a professional staff of four people working full-time and two working part-time, the newspaper employs 80 students in news, advertising, customer service and production jobs. Another 150 students work as volunteers in training.

The student staff produces 14,000 copies of the newspaper five days a week when school is in session. The paper is distributed at 225 sites on and off campus, including Chapel Hill, Carrboro, Hillsborough, southeast Durham and northern Chatham County.

The newspaper also publishes an online version that attracts 10,500 unique visitors, on average, each school day.

The student editor hires the newsroom staff, each of whom is paid $200 to $700 a month. DTH Media Corp. employs a newsroom adviser who provides a training for the staff and volunteers.

A student advertising manager and staff of 25 handle all ad sales under the direction of a non-student advertising director.

Last fall, DTH Media Corp. began piloting a new business, DTH Media Services, with public-relations students from UNC working with clients to produce brand content.

The new alumni association has developed a list of 2,000 alumni, will distribute an alumni newsletter three times a year, and in February hosted an inaugural homecoming event.

It included two days of workshops and a dinner that attracted 60 alumni and presented its first Distinguished Alumni Award to Edwin M. Yoder Jr., who served in 1955-56 as DTH co-editor and in 1979 won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing at The Washington Star.

The alumni association, Wolff says, will focus on fundraising, networking among alumni for their own professional development, and mentoring students.

Public schools focus of foundation

By Todd Cohen

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Each August, at a “Teacher Store” in partnership with the East Chapel Hill Rotary Club, new teachers, school social workers and roughly half the other teachers in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools can pick up classroom supplies using a $75 voucher.

Teachers also are eligible to receive $1,000 a year for two to three years from 10 endowed chairs, and for recognitions and awards; scholarships to help cover the cost of applying for national certification; and professional-development grants. And first-year teachers receive $100 grants for classroom purposes.

Helping to provide all that support, as well as funding for schools and students, is the Chapel Hill-Carrboro Public School Foundation, which hosts the Teacher Store in partnership with East Chapel Hill Rotary Club

Launched in 1984, the Foundation has raised and provided over $5.4 million for local public schools, including funds for 328 teachers who have received money from the endowed chairs, and received awards and also scholarships for certification through the National Board of Professional Teaching Standards.

It also has provided nearly $532,000 for students and schools for college scholarships, summer enrichment and tutoring; over $230,000 in supplies and materials for classroom teachers; and nearly $850,000 for projects at schools.

In the face of declining teacher morale as a result of cuts or threatened cuts in state funding for schools and teacher salaries, the Foundation works to “make sure the teachers feel valued and they know they’re making a difference in children’s lives,” says Lynn Lehmann, the Foundation’s executive director.

The Foundation also focuses on “students with the most need, both financially and academically, to make sure every student is able to be on grade level,” she says.

Operating with an annual budget of $325,000, and a staff of one full-time employee and three part-time employees, the Foundation counts on 45 active volunteers, including the 27 members of its board of directors, plus other volunteers who support three major fundraising events.

Board members, for example, review grant requests and recommend funding; chair events; work with the Foundation’s auditor; prepare financial statements; create communications; and set up focus groups with teachers and principals to identify their needs.

“They work like this is their job,” says Lehmann, a former PTA president who served on the Foundation’s board for 10 years, including a term as president, before joining the staff in 2014 as program manager.

She became executive director last October, succeeding Kim Hoke, who co-founded the Foundation when she was assistant to the superintendent of the city schools.

Each year, the Foundation hosts three big fundraising events, including its Walk for Education, which last fall raised $185,000, including corporate sponsorships, with 85 percent of the funds going back to schools for projects.

It also hosts a 5K for Education each spring that generates about $10,000 and includes six weeks of fitness training for teachers for $25 each provided by Fleet Feet Sports. And it hosts a Teachers First Breakfast and Roses, which receives donated food from the Chapel Hill Restaurant Group — Spanky’s, 411 West, Mez, Page Road Grill and Squid’s — and discounted roses from Whole Foods, and last year raised $95,000, most of it for programs that support teachers.

The Foundation supports each of the school system’s 11 elementary schools, four middle schools and four high schools — plus the school at UNC Hospitals for young people being  treated there — in raising money for the Walk to fund a project each school chooses.

It also provides grants for out-of-school learning and enrichment for low-income or low-achieving students  and student scholarships for higher education.

The Foundation also receives support from individuals, including one who last year donated $55,000, and from the Stroud Roses Foundation and other philanthropies.

But generating funds through its annual appeal remains a challenge, Lehmann says, and the Foundation has hired Executive Service Corps of the Triangle to help it develop a strategic plan that could set the stage for fundraising or campaign to build its operating endowment, which now totals $108,000.  The Foundation also operates 32 endowments totaling $1.5 million that support endowed chairs and other programs.

“Teacher value and student success are the challenges of the district,” Lehmann says, “and the things we try to address with our enrichment grants.”

Donor cultivation yields $10 million gift for UNC Lineberger

By Todd Cohen

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — In October, the UNC Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center in Chapel Hill announced a $10 million gift commitment — its biggest gift ever — to fund early-stage cancer research.

The form of the gift represents the holy grail of fundraising: It is unrestricted, giving Lineberger’s leaders discretion to apply the dollars to areas of research they believe are most promising.

Ken and Cheryl Williams of Burlington, who are making the gift, are the kind of donors who fundraising professionals dream about, says Eli Jordfald, director of major gifts at Lineberger, who says the gift is the largest she has helped secure in her 30-year career in fundraising.

“Not only have they made this gift,” she says. “They want to help us solicit other gifts and be right there with us.”

Long-time supporters of athletics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and and of the Educational Foundation, the sports booster and scholarship organization at UNC better known as The Rams Club, the couple first got involved with the Cancer Center in October 2010.

Cheryl Williams, whose mother had died from breast cancer at age 52, volunteered that year to help raise money for Tickled Pink, a month-long fundraising effort the couple supported with a small gift.

Ken Williams, who holds master’s and doctoral degrees from what is now the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC and is a retired senior vice president at Durham-based Quintiles, the world’s largest provider of biopharmaceutical development and commercial outsourcing services, also has a personal connection with cancer: His father died from mesothelioma and, last year, the couple brought his 94-year-old mother to Lineberger after she was diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

In 2011, the couple joined Lineberger’s board of visitors, a group of 135 couples who serve as ambassadors for the Center throughout the state. And in 2013, they joined the board’s development committee, which provides volunteer input and support for the Center’s fundraising efforts.

“They been very engaged in development conversations and development initiatives,” Jordfald says.

The Williamses also have been involved in early planning during the silent phase of a comprehensive fundraising campaign at UNC that is expected to set a goal totaling billions of dollars.

Since joining the board, Jordfald says, the Williamses have worked closely with many people at Lineberger, including Debbie Dibbert, its former executive director of external affairs.

Last April, Jordfald invited the couple to lunch at the Carolina Club at the George Watts Hill Alumni Center at UNC for what they understood “was going to be a gift conversation,” she says. Also at the lunch was Martin Baucom, who had been named executive director of development and communications to succeed Dibbert after she became chief of staff for UNC Chancellor Carol Folt.

“We talked about some of the really big and bold plans for the Cancer Center and the importance of philanthropy and how critical it would be to have board members step up and support these important initiatives,” Jordfald says.

The Williamses said during the two-hour lunch that they were “starting to think seriously about their gift,” Jordfald says, and indicated they were “thinking about a significant gift” that would be earmarked for unrestricted research.

Then, in July, standing in the lobby of the Center at the close of a 90-minute tour, the couple said “they were very close to finalizing a gift” and indicated “it was going to be a multi-million-dollar gift.”

They also asked how large a gift would be needed to name the lobby for their son Tony, who had died tragically two years ago.

“When they heard the figure of $10 million,” Jordfald says, “Cheryl said it would be so wonderful to be able to name the lobby for Tony.”

Final details of the gift were worked out, and papers signed, at two lunches at a restaurant in Burlington, and the gift was announced in October.

Key to the gift, Jordfald says, were the active role the Williamses played on the board of visitors and development committee; their engagement with and support of staff leaders and faculty; and their substantive knowledge about the Center’s work and vision, and desire to participate in advancing it; and conversations they had with Folt and David Routh, UNC’s vice chancellor for university advancement.

Equally critical was “listening carefully to what their goals were,” she says. “They wanted to establish a legacy. They wanted to find answers to complicated cancers.”

The Williamses “are truly a development person’s dream,” Jordfald says. “They are rainmakers.”

Ronald McDonald House eyes growth

By Todd Cohen

On April 15, Ronald McDonald House of Durham began offering overnight stays in five rooms donated by WakeMed in its Heart Center Inn in Raleigh to families of critically-ill pediatric patients at WakeMed Children’s Hospital.

Through September, the new WakeMed House already had provided 630 overnight stays.

And with demand from families growing, the nonprofit has renamed itself Ronald McDonald House of Durham and Wake and is considering whether to establish a new Ronald McDonald House to serve families of pediatric patients at WakeMed, says Oie Osterkamp, executive director.

Launched in 1980 with 13 beds, Ronald McDonald House of Durham was the first of what now are five Ronald McDonald organizations in the state operating a total of seven houses. The others are in Chapel Hill, Charlotte, Greenville and Winston-Salem.

The Durham House, located near Duke University Hospital, grew to 29 rooms in 2011, and was expanded to 55 rooms in October 2012 after a capital campaign that raised $7.2 million. Last year, it provided 16,200 overnight stays to families.

Ronald McDonald House also operates separate family rooms at Duke University Hospital and WakeMed that together serve over 40,000 parents a year.

Ronald McDonald House operates with an annual budget of just over $2 million, plus $500,000 to $600,000 in estimated in-kind donations, a staff of 12 people working full-time and 12 working part-time, and 4,500 volunteers.

This year, it expects to generate most of its budget — $1.85 million — through contributions, revenue from annual fundraising breakfasts each fall in Durham and Raleigh, and a “Heart of Gold” gala in February or March at the Angus Barn in Raleigh.

It also receives support from McDonald’s Corp., individual owner-operators of local McDonald’s restaurants, and their local advertising co-op, as well as investment income from its $3 million endowment.

In-kind support ranges from $25,000 worth of toilet paper to $17,000 worth of disinfecting wipes. Both family rooms provide frozen meals, the WakeMed House provides meal vouchers for the WakeMed cafeteria at WakeMed, and once a week Ronald McDonald House provide lunch for all the pediatric families at WakeMed. At the Durham House, volunteers provide activities every day and cook dinner every night for all families.

In June, Ronald McDonald House launched a new “Security Blanket Society” to recognize and encourage planned gifts, says Nancy Jones, senior director of development and communications.

And building on an existing program that offers donors an opportunity to sponsor a room or suite in its Durham House, Ronald McDonald House has begun an effort that offers donors the opportunity to endow or “adopt” a room or suite.

While the suggested fees for families total $10 a night for a small bedroom and $15 a night for a long-term stay in a suite, the actual cost is over $100. A year-long sponsorship totals $3,650 for a room and $5,475 for a suite, and an endowment gift totals $100,000 for a room and $150,000 for a suite.

“We ask for $10 a night for families to stay here, and 70 percent of families can’t afford that,” Osterkamp says.

At the Durham House, sponsors already are covering the annual cost to families of about 20 rooms.

And Aaron and Natalie Cain of Fayetteville have made a $100,000 commitment to endow a room at the Durham House named for their late son, Wells McRae Cain, and have created an annual memorial golf tournament to raise the endowment funds.

After Wells was born with a congenital heart defect, he was airlifted to Duke Hospital. The Cains spent two weeks at the Durham House before Wells died. He had lived for 71 days.

Jones says the endowment will make a big difference for families that need to stay at Ronald McDonald House.

United Way aims for ‘collective impact’

By Todd Cohen

CARY, N.C. — From 2004 to 2014, when Laura Zink Marx served as executive director of NJ 2-1-1 Partnership, a subsidiary of United Way of New Jersey, the referral-and-resource hotline for health and human services grew rapidly to serve United Way affiliates, the nonprofit agencies they support, and government agencies in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

The Partnership also emerged as a model for the new role United Way increasingly aims to play in local communities as a catalyst, hub and resource for collaboration to address urgent community needs. It used technology and data to coordinate services among agencies, assess callers’ needs and connect them with services to assist them, and began to track the impact of those services.

And it served as a revenue center, growing its staff to 100 employees and its annual operating budget to $5 million.

Now, as president and CEO of United Way of North Carolina, Marx is building on that model to help its members reinvent the way they do business. Those members include 57 local United Ways and two United Funds that serve 83 of the state’s 100 counties and last year raised a total of $100 million.

“Like any business, we’re reimagining what the future holds for us a state organization, and local United Ways are reimagining their role in the communities,” says Marx, who joined the statewide organization last October. “We’re making the shift from allocating dollars to agencies, to building community impact programs that are more inclusive of collaboration with other agencies and making real change happen.”

Operating with nine employees and an annual budget of $900,000, United Way of North Carolina also manages the State Employees Combined Campaign, which in 2014 raised $3.8 million.

Under a separate nonprofit operating with an annual budget of $1 million, up from $400,000 last year, United Way of North Carolina administers the 2-1-1 hotline, which serves all 100 counties in the state through call centers in Asheville and Durham that employ the equivalent of 21 full-time staff.

With $1.7 million in funding from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust in Chapel Hill, United Way is expanding its 2-1-1 service to Florida, Kentucky and New York, and has developed, a web-based “dashboard” that tracks data from calls and will be used in North Carolina, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan and New York.

Building on the 2-1-1 program Marx headed in New Jersey, United Way of North Carolina also is working to develop partnerships with nonprofit and government agencies that provide health and human services, offering its 2-1-1 service as a “portal” to help those agencies to better serve their clients.

“It’s about providing solutions to the state to help streamline services for residents,” she says. “We’re providing the core infrastructure, and then leveraging that for solutions for government and nonprofits.”

United Way, for example, is partnering with the North Carolina Coalition to End Homelessness, which under a federal mandate tied to funding is developing plans to coordinate resources for people facing homelessness.

Through an initiative to be piloted in Onslow County, United Way’s 2-1-1 service will serve as a one-stop shop aggregating data about all public and private agencies serving people who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, and as a “front door for coordinated assessments” of callers, Marx says.

The system will provide “pre-screening to help divert people who are not homeless,” Marx says, while directing them to resources they do need, such as food pantries.

The 2-1-1 service represents a new model for United Way, moving away from a focus on fundraising to investing in “collective impact,” Marx says.

“It’s about knowing what the factors are in a community that provide barriers to people, to help them take the next step in their lives and move forward,” she says. “If we’re looking at building coalitions and collaborations in the community, and effective long-term change, we can start to collect data that’s specific to United Way initiatives.”

United Way of Forsyth County, for example, is part of a collaborative, neighborhood-based initiative that has helped improve the high-school graduation rate and now aims to help graduates get to college and move beyond the poverty their families have faced for generations, Marx says.

The 2-1-1 service can contribute to the effort by guiding callers — such as mothers who make repeated requests for emergency assistance to pay their electric utility bills — to other services they might need to help their families become more financially independent.

In addition to 2-1-1, keys to United Way’s emerging strategy are to use technology more effectively, share “best practices” and success stories at individual United Ways, shift the perception of United Way’s work to “investing” from fundraising, and advocate for public policies that strengthen charities.

To better engage young adults, United Way needs to find ways to more effectively use YouTube videos and social media, Marx says.

United Way of Alamance County, for example, used MobileCause, a cloud-based fundraising application that lets people in the same room use their cell phones to pledge contributions so each person can instantly see total giving from everyone in the room. United Way of North Carolina then shared that “best practice” with its members throughout the state.

For smaller United Ways, Marx says, “it’s really hard to understand how it relates to what you do.” A goal of United Way of North Carolina is to “interpret big ideas and make them manageable, whatever size you are,” she says.

While United Ways traditionally have been successful at “being independent and siloed,” she says, shifting patterns in where people live and work, and how they commute, have made it important for local United Ways to share information and resources with one another, and to help people understand the common and connected role they play.

In western North Carolina, a handful of local United Ways now plan to share back-office operations such as processing donation pledges and handling payroll and other finance functions.

And United Way of North Carolina is sharing with its members the story of United Way of Onslow County, which reduced the county’s rate of childhood homelessness by more than 25 percent in two years.

United Ways also are looking for ways to engage donors in the work their dollars support so they can see the difference their investment makes.

As a “leadership” donor who gives $1,000 a year through payroll deduction to United Way of the Greater Triangle, Marx is invited to monthly events that feature discussions on topics such as the need for food for hungry people or for the mentoring of girls. She then can get involved by participating in an event to build food kits or by serving as a mentor.

And in the face of a proposal in the North Carolina Senate to cap charitable deductions, United Way of North Carolina is working to mobilize local United Ways to share their concerns about the possible impact the proposal would have on charitable giving.

United Way’s strategy is to keep looking for new ways to be part of collaborative efforts to address community needs, Marx says.

“The door’s open until it’s closed,” she says. “Let’s keep thinking about ways we can bring value to the work that we do.”

Community foundation focuses on donor service

By Todd Cohen

[Note: This was written for Blackbaud.]

While the financial markets gradually have recovered since they crashed in 2008, a focus on providing good customer service to donors has helped generate annual giving of roughly $300 million a year over the past 5 years to the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation.

“The market plays a huge role, probably the biggest role,” said Brenda Chumley, senior vice president of foundation relations and operations at the Foundation. But the biggest factors driving annual giving, which grew to $393 million in 2014, are “the services you offer and the flexibility of your foundation,” she said.

Investment options

A flexible service that donors value is the Foundation’s practice, which it adopted roughly 10 years ago, that gives donors the option of using their own investment managers to manage the investment of the charitable funds they create at the Foundation.

Outside managers now manage roughly 70 percent of the $2.5 billion in assets at the Foundation, which was founded in 1978. Investment returns on funds managed by outside managers are generally comparable to those of the Foundation’s pooled funds that are managed by our own investment managers, Chumley said.

Donor relations

Unlike many community foundations with separate departments for developing new donors and for providing services to existing donors, the Greater Kansas City Community Foundation operates with a single donor relations department that works with prospective and existing donors. So the donor relations officer who works with a donor to make a first gift continues to work with that same donor.

Key to the work of the donor relations staff members is developing one-on-one relationships with donors, Chumley said.

Each donor has a personal contact at the Foundation, and each donor relations officer meets at least once a year with each donor about his or her portfolio unless a donor prefers to have no contact. Whether the meetings are in person, over the phone, or not at all, the goal is to “being respectful of the donor’s needs and making sure we’re fulfilling them,” Chumley said.

The Foundation offers a graduated fee schedule based on assets in the fund. “We treat every donor equally from a service perspective,” Chumley said. “It’s one donor at a time, and whatever their needs are, it is those we will service.”

Staffing and technology

To best serve donors, the Foundation has made significant investment in technology and, over the past five years, has slowly increased the size of its donor relations staff to seven from five.

Donors can use an online donor portal to review their charitable funds, make grants, look at their investment earnings, or print out a fund statement. And for the past 10 years, the Foundation has used separate software to help it manage data from outside investment managers selected by donors who opt to use them.

Staff expertise

The Greater Kansas City Community Foundation does not operate with a separate staff for gift planning. Each donor relations officer is responsible for working with donors on a broad range of gifts. And the Foundation’s corporate counsel, who handles planned gifts and serves on the donor relations staff, supports other donor relations officers in

working with donors on more complex gifts.

Types of gifts

Cash and stock are the most popular types of gifts to the Foundation, and donor advised funds are the most popular type of fund, Chumley said. The Foundation is also seeing a lot of gifts of real estate and closely-held business entities.

“People are looking at their entire portfolio and deciding what makes the most sense for them to give,” she said. “Sometimes it’s an illiquid asset they can turn into a liquid asset.”

The Foundation has a lot of experience in accepting complicated gifts, particularly as a result of the gift of the Kansas City Royals baseball team that it received in 1994 and sold in 2000.

Donor education

As part of the services it offers to donors, the Foundation hosts three to four education sessions a year. Typically held at lunch and attracting 25 to 30 donors, the sessions focus on topics such as preserving donor intent or working with successive generations.

And the Foundation tries to keep the sessions informal and fun, Chumley said.

For several years in a row, for example, the Foundation delivered cupcakes to all its donors with a note thanking them for having a fund with the Foundation and offering them “a treat on us.”

“We work really hard to make giving easy and fun,” Chumley said.

Professional advisers

The Foundation works strategically with lawyers, accountants, financial planners, and other professional advisers, meeting with them one-on-one, hosting education events, providing printed and online information, and materials they can use in working with their clients, and serving as a resource whenever needed.

“We’ve made it easy to quickly set up a donor-advised fund or other fund at year-end,” Chumley said.

The Foundation also hosts two lunches a year that feature advisers who talk about their work with the Foundation, as well as its own staff.


Operating with a communications staff of two people, the Foundation targets selective communications about philanthropy and about its work and impact.

When the Kansas City Royals played in the World Series last year, for example, the Foundation’s president and CEO, Debbie Wilkerson, wrote an opinion column for the local newspaper about the gift of the team to the Foundation, and the impact of the gift on the community.

The Foundation places some advertising on its local National Public Radio station, which also occasionally interviews members of the Foundation’s staff for its programs.

“When appropriate, we do outreach in that area,” Chumley said. “But we don’t just constantly try to get stories in the paper.”