How I Built My
Fundraising Consultancy

Penelope Burk – Episode 33

Learn not only about starting and running a successful fundraising consultancy, but also some fascinating insights from one of the industry’s leading researchers on what it’s like to be the donor and the experiences that they expect and want from you the fundraiser.

Penelope Burk is the president of Cygnus Applied Research and the author of “Donor-Centered Fundraising” and “Donor-Centered Leadership”.

Learn more about Penelope Burk and Cygnus Applied Research at

Listeners of this podcast can get a 10% discount on Penelope Burk’s recently released 2nd edition of Donor-Centered Fundraising by using coupon code “marketsmart”. Click here to purchase your copy.

Click here to listen on YouTube!

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T.J. McGovern – Episode 32

T.J. McGovern is the president of the McGovern Consulting Group. He was formerly the Development Manager at Fairbanks Hospital and Development Director at Ivy Tech Community College. T.J. focuses on helping nonprofits develop their message.

Learn more about McGovern Consulting Group at

Click here to listen on YouTube!

    Topic Timestamps

    • Introduction [00:00]
    • T.J. McGovern [01:03]
    • When did you know fundraising was what you wanted to do? [01:34]
    • Where did you work before starting your business? [02:17]
    • Fairbanks Hospital [04:07]
    • Working with healthcare institutions today? [04:47]
    • Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra [05:11]
    • Understanding the role of the board [06:12]
    • What have you learned in the 5 years since starting your business? [06:53]
    • Did you work with consultants as an employee? [07:36]
    • Any advice for those getting started? [08:41]
    • What has been your biggest challenge so far? [09:13]
    • Have you turned down work from potential clients? [10:48]
    • How do you work on an organization’s message? [11:29]
    • How else do you help nonprofits? [13:08]
    • How do you find new business? [13:52]
    • What makes a good client for you? [14:28]
    • Was there an initial financial investment? [14:50]
    • Who in the organization do you like to work with? [15:30]
    • Have you had any mentors over the years? [16:15]
    • How much business experience did you have prior to starting yours? [17:45]
    • What tasks do you hope to delegate in the future? [19:10]
    • What tools do you use to get your job done? [19:37]
    • What’s your typical schedule like? [20:12]
    • for Consultants [20:53]
    • Lightning Round [22:02]

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Cathy R. Sheffield – Episode 31

Cathy R. Sheffield is a fundraising executive with over 20 years experience, specializing in major gifts and gift planning. She founded ThinkGiving in June of 2017. Cathy has experience in healthcare and education for organizations such as All Saints Health Foundation, Texas Health Resources Foundation, Cook Children’s Health Foundation, Texas Christian University, The University of Texas at Arlington and the American Diabetes Association.

Learn more about ThinkGiving at

Click here to listen on YouTube!

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Jay Frost – Episode 30

Jay Frost has been a fundraising consultant and speaker for the past 28 years and shares a wealth of knowledge in this episode.

Learn more about Jay Frost at

Click here to listen on YouTube!

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Emma Kieran – Episode 29

Emma Kieran is the principal of Pilot Peak Consulting, which she started in June of 2014. Learn how her background as both a teacher and a fundraiser has influenced what she set out to do with Pilot Peak Consulting.

Learn more about Pilot Peak Consulting at

Click here to listen on YouTube!

Topic Timestamps:

  • How’d you come up with the name? [01:27]
  • What’s your background? [01:51]
  • How is your approach different? [02:31]
  • What has been the hardest conversation you’ve had with a client? [04:25]
  • What timelines have been hard to meet? [06:32]
  • How has the business changed since you started? [07:31]
  • Is there anyone else on your team? [09:49]
  • How do you get a new client started? [11:20]
  • What is your time split between on-site and remote work? [12:40]
  • How do you find new clients? [13:03]
  • What makes the perfect client? [15:23]
  • What are your favorite tools? [16:24]
  • What’s your typical schedule like? [17:16]
  • What was the hardest part for you at the beginning? [18:07]
  • How’d you decide what services to offer? [20:46]
  • Lightning Round [23:36]

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About the Podcast

How I Built My Fundraising Consultancy is a bi-weekly interview podcast with fundraising consultants. Hear how individual consultants and consulting firm leaders got their start.

Learn what it takes to launch your practice, the tools you’ll need, and the hardships you may face. Discover what it takes to build a fundraising consultancy. Check out How I Built My Fundraising Consultancy by MarketSmart.

New episodes released every other Tuesday!

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