Philanthropy North Carolina

News, writing and advising for social good


Todd Cohen, founder and principal

  • “…arguably the foremost authority on nonprofits and philanthropy in North Carolina”
  • Founding editor and publisher, Philanthropy Journal
  • Former business editor, The News & Observer, Raleigh
  • 24 years’ experience reporting on the charitable world
  • Deep knowledge of nonprofit and philanthropic trends and best practices
  • Vast network of leaders, practitioners, thinkers in nonprofit, business, public sectors
  • Speaker/facilitator at hundreds of nonprofit workshops, seminars, conferences
  • Frequent resource for local, state and national news media


Writing, analysis and advice for nonprofits, funders, donors

  • Writing: annual reports, op-ed columns, newsletters, profiles, web content, case statements and studies, strategic plans, marketing and fundraising materials, news releases, articles, brand and identity
  • Analysis: fundraising, giving, communications, engagement, trends, best practices
  • Advice: communications support and strategy for fundraising, marketing, giving, engagement


Communication that is engaging, inspiring and strategic is indispensable to the ability of a nonprofit to advance its mission; deliver services effectively; operate efficiently; build and maintain a network of committed and loyal donors, supporters and partners; attract and retain smart, passionate and productive employees, volunteers and leaders; and secure long-term funding and other resources.

Yet too few nonprofits are as effective at communication as they should be.

Nonprofits typically lack stories about themselves that are clear, concise and compelling, and that focus on their role and impact in addressing community needs. They also typically lack the skills to tell those stories well.

Developing those stories and skills requires that nonprofits create a culture of communication.

Building that culture requires commitment from a nonprofit’s board and staff leaders to the idea that advancing the organization’s mission depends on:

  • Understanding urgent community needs.
  • Knowing donors, supporters and partners, educating them about community needs, and engaging them in the organization’s work.
  • Developing stories about the organization’s role and impact.
  • Creating a communications plan to inform the organization’s work, strategies, programs, resources and relationships, both internal and external.

Communicating effectively is not complicated, but it takes hard work. It requires common sense. It demands practice, patience and persistence. And it depends on asking smart questions, listening carefully and responding thoughtfully.

That requires creating the organizational culture and acquiring the knowledge, tools and skills that nonprofits and foundations need to build their capacity to communicate strategically and effectively.


Philanthropy North Carolina works with nonprofits, foundations and other organizations to:

  • Assess existing communications and strategies.
  • Provide broad perspective on key communications challenges and opportunities.
  • Develop a communications strategy.
  • Build an organizational brand and identity.
  • Provide ongoing communications training for board and staff.
  • Improve communication among and between board and staff.
  • Improve communication with donors, supporters, partners, constituents.
  • Cultivate media relations and promote community issues.
  • Write web content, annual reports, op-ed columns, news releases, marketing pieces, fundraising materials, profiles, newsletters, strategic plans, case statements, case studies.
  • Create an “elevator” speech and talking points.
  • Write for social media.
  • Select communication vehicles to reach target audiences.
  • Handle crises.

How to reach Todd Cohen:


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