This Power of Philanthropy blog space is dedicated to sharing the stories and learning the lessons of organizations and individuals who have improved the lives of others through meaningful and tangible acts of generosity.

Hartsook is dedicated to helping nonprofit organizations increase philanthropic support across the United States and around the world. Our goal is to see nonprofits successfully increase and advance their missions. We consider ourselves fortunate to work with thousands of volunteers, donors and nonprofits as, together, we unleash the Power of Philanthropy.

We look forward to sharing the thoughts of donors and volunteers, clients and Hartsook team members—offering positive dialogue and inspiration.

Thank you for all you do to unleash the Power of Philanthropy!

Check this space regularly for new posts, and take some time to share your own reflections and opinions. Please send your stories and insights to [email protected].

Creating a Culture of Philanthropy

As fundraising consultants, we often speak with nonprofits about “creating a culture of philanthropy.” It’s easy to say: It’s short, sweet and memorable. Unfortunately, there’s a risk of sounding cliché, unless its meaning is fully understood and embraced. Not long ago, I realized we had created a culture of philanthropy in our family, even without…

Outlook is Everything

Early in my fundraising career, I served as a planned giving representative. In my new role, I wanted to meet, face to face, with every donor in my portfolio. I made calls to secure appointments and planned out a route that would allow me to visit with as many donors as I could in a…

Stories, Not Stats

Researching is to a grant writer what stretching is to a marathon runner—the process brings clarity beyond focus. While researching a Missouri nonprofit client that serves people with developmental disabilities, I was deeply affected by a call with facility staff about the ten, acutely disabled patients they care for—all requiring a nurse to accomplish basic…

“Hi … hi … hi …”

When my daughter was in second grade, I spoke to her class about my work as a fundraiser on career day. Based on her introduction of me, she had her own take on my job: “My mom says hi a lot at work. ‘Hi … hi … hi!’” I was fascinated and, later, asked her…

Friends in Giving

I truly believe there is power in philanthropy. Whether packaging up and passing out food or making financial contributions to help students stay in college, giving of my time, talent and treasure brings me joy. I believe this personal participation is vital for keeping the heartbeat of humanity in philanthropy. I have a friend serving…

The Power of Philanthropy in Action

It started out with one box in the corner of our dining room. Over the next ten weeks, we watched one box become three, then five and eventually assorted boxes and bags were stacked to the ceiling. Out in the garage, there were even more. On August 30, 2021, many of us saw the images…

It’s the Small Things

As the New Year begins, after two long years of Covid lockdowns and distancing, I am more acutely aware of the small moments, gestures and words that can have the greatest meaning. As we humans tend to do, I appreciate and seek meaning and connection. Last week, the Hartsook team connected in person in Kansas…

The Power of Personal Stories

For more than 30 years, I’ve had the privilege of leading and participating in the mission-planning efforts of many nonprofits as a volunteer, donor, board member and, in some instances, as a fundraiser and professional consultant. Embedded in those organizations’ planning efforts is an important key to philanthropy: personal stories. Whether it is the story…

A Personal Reflection

Philanthropy is a matter of the heart. It is manifested in actions that express thoughtfulness and behaviors that benefit people and increase the quality of life in our communities and society. The friendships and relationships accruing from philanthropic engagement means much more than just money. The traditional perception that only assets define the practice and…

Love as a Lifestyle: In Honor of Norma Murphy

Norma Murphy1942 – 2021 The entire Hartsook team was deeply saddened to hear of the passing of our dear colleague, Norma Murphy. Norma worked as a Hartsook consultant for nearly 30 years and retired in 2020 as executive vice president. Prior to that, she was the vice president of development for the Cerebral Palsy Research…

That’s All They Asked Me to Give

Several years ago, I was working with an organization to help shore up their organizational development operation. While conducting a review of board giving, I came across a member who had given the same gift for 15 years. It wasn’t substantial, but it was consistent and large enough to catch my attention. What was unusual was…

The Generosity of Donors Makes the Difference

Early in my fundraising career, I directed a mid-size university’s regular giving program. It was the first time I developed and managed the regular giving budget and determined the best use of those funds. I decided I would invest heavily in a fall appeal geared toward our most loyal donors. Since we were asking our…

Never Judge Donors by Their Zip Codes

Early in my career, I was a planned giving representative for a large religious and social service organization. During a presentation I was giving, a woman shared with me that she was going to include the nonprofit in her will. It was great news. Later, I searched our donor records and discovered that in the…

We’re going to do it!

Harvesters is a food bank for the Kansas City region—a large warehouse-transportation distribution center for partners who provide food to those they serve. Before the pandemic, we’d been used to addressing natural disasters. Groups would rally to areas, so we had practice with that, but we had never faced a combination economic, health and education…

Looking for a Leader

When a major fundraising campaign begins, one of the first tasks is to find leaders who can take on the tremendous challenge of seeing it through to the end. The question around the table is: Who will find this cause worthy enough to volunteer, knowing there will be challenges, frustrations and disappointments—along with the unbelievable…

Listen Well, and Write It Down

I was probably 13-years old when I first heard the song on the radio, I Need Love, by LL Cool J. I liked the beat and melody, but I did not, initially, pay much attention to the words. It was not until I heard some guys in my class rap the lyrics that I felt compelled…

Make the Call

With a deep breath—heart pounding—I dialed the phone number. He answered on the first ring. An introverted young grant writer, calling the direct line of the director of a major foundation, on behalf of a nearly unknown nonprofit, was intimidating at best. It wasn’t my first call, but I will always remember it as a…

Here’s to a Great Year!

Last year, which—for many—is fading quickly in the rear view mirror, was certainly a challenge. But it also offered invaluable opportunities to learn and grow, lessons that should not be forgotten. As nonprofit donors, volunteers and fundraisers, we discovered much about ourselves and our organizations in 2020. We learned up-close and personally (even while being…

Happy to Help

I recently heard my daughter tell some of her classmates what her mom did for work: “She’s a helper.” I love that description. It’s my mission and, apparently, my job. It is also an example of the power of philanthropy to positivity influence so many people—not only those served by nonprofits, but the donors, volunteers…

Transparency and Appreciation as Forces for Philanthropy

As a gender-inclusive fraternal organization, Alpha Phi Omega’s members improve the world one community service project at a time. Not surprisingly, our revenue took a big hit when college campuses switched to a virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our annual fund is supported through direct mail to our alumni members. We rely on…

Why You Do What You Do

My husband and I attended an event several years ago when I noticed a young woman sitting at a picnic table nearby, alone and crying. I walked over to check in, and her story spilled out. She and her boyfriend had moved there from another state, because they heard a company in town was hiring.…

Philanthropy Is a Labor of Love

I remember a time, as a child, when friends brought over boxes of food for our family. In my 11- or 12-year-old mind, I thought, “How nice that they brought us all this great stuff!” Looking back, I recognized that my parents had been going through a rough patch, financially, and they had needed the…

Investing in Our Neighbors

Great things can begin with small steps, and there is a multiplying factor when fundraisers, donors and nonprofits each do their part, while pulling together. In 2016, I was part of a community work group. Many of us have participated in committees like this. There was a common desire to do good, help people and…

The Power of Philanthropy to Enrich Our Lives

As a fundraising consultant, I understand the value of connecting donors with nonprofit missions that matter to them. I know what it means to organizations to receive financial funding, but more than that—to receive enthusiastic support from donors whose gifts convey respect and appreciation for the nonprofit’s work. I also know what it means as…

It’s Not What You Gather, It’s What You Scatter

I grew up in a large family. We lived modestly, but always had the essentials of life and made the most of our circumstances. Even though my parents had a limited income, they made sure to give their time and money to charitable causes. They paid a full tithe to the church, and participated regularly…

Perinatal Hospice

As fundraisers, we are often given a front row view of the positive impact of donors’ gifts and the power of philanthropy to change lives profoundly. Each of us encounters the power of philanthropy in our own space and time. In my case, I was working at Kansas City Hospice, as the first full-time grant…

Tailored Appreciation

One day, while stopping by my son’s elementary school, I struck up a conversation with two of his friends. One of the boys was wearing his school uniform; the other boy was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Since this was an unusual occurrence, I asked them about it. The one young man, wearing his street…

‘Tis the Season…

As the holiday season quickly approaches, everywhere, we see this reminder: ‘Tis the Season… We see it in commercials, newspaper ads, online banners, social media, billboards and numerous other platforms that draw our attention to the commercial side of the holidays. For nonprofits, ‘Tis the Season… is even more important and meaningful. As a major…

Why Give?

The following was adapted from a presentation I had the pleasure of making during Mi Esperanza’s gala fundraiser, Passport to Hope, in Covington, Louisiana. Mi Esperanza means MY HOPE and began in 2002 with a vision to provide life-sustaining change in the lives of women in the villages surrounding Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Everyone benefits from giving:…

The Power of Philanthropy™

I was at the library near my home on a recent Saturday morning wrapping up loose ends before a week on the road. I often tuck into my local branch on weekends to thin my briefcase. I looked up from my computer and saw a man walking slowly through the lobby toward the restrooms and…

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