The Wallis Presents Free Virtual Panel Discussion About Radical Philanthropy In 2020 And Beyond

She also leads the research and publication of Giving USA, the annual report on American philanthropy. She is joined by panelists Michael Fleming, …

The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts presents Center Stage: A Fundraiser’s Guide to Radical Philanthropy in 2020 & Beyond, an invigorating and informative live virtual panel discussion moderated by CCS Fundraising featuring prominent philanthropists and fundraising experts from Southern California and beyond, on Monday, October 26, 2020, at 10 am (PDT).

The free 75-minute presentation and panel discussion, geared for the arts and culture community, explores the different ways the philanthropic sector is addressing the work of mission-building and fundraising with fresh ideas and new eyes during this critical time.

The keynote speaker is Dr. Una Osili from the Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy, the world’s first school on philanthropy. An internationally recognized expert on economic development and philanthropy who speaks around the globe on issues related to national and international trends in economics and philanthropy, she recently testified to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee on supporting charitable giving during the COVID-19 crisis. She also leads the research and publication of Giving USA, the annual report on American philanthropy. She is joined by panelists Michael Fleming, Executive Director of the David Bohnett Foundation, a grant-making foundation charged with improving society through social activism, and Lisa Greer, a noted philanthropist and author of Philanthropy Revolution, with other panelists to be announced. CCS Fundraising Corporate Vice President Aashika Patel is the moderator and Rachel Fine, Executive Director and CEO of The Wallis, hosts the event.

“As we chart our emergence from the global pandemic crisis, The Wallis is facing the same challenging fundraising issues as many of our colleagues in the arts community across the county,” says Fine, “With an eye to community engagement and informing the next generation of major donors to the arts, this panel discussion addresses the outlook for the arts in 2021 and provides novel strategies and concepts that for fundraisers can apply to their own scenarios. We are delighted to have Dr. Onsili, who is one of the worlds’ foremost experts on trends and developments in philanthropy, anchor this panel discussion, and look forward to panelists Michael Fleming and Lisa Geer sharing their innovative insights.”

This free event carries forward The Wallis’ commitment to accessible arts and culture for the Los Angeles community and follows the successful Center Stage panel discussions in February 2019 about the future of arts education in Los Angeles, in May 2018 that focused on L.A.’s notable dance landscape and the inaugural event in September 2017 discussing women leaders and the arts in L.A.

Registration to the free digital broadcast can be accessed at Five event attendees will be randomly selected to win a signed copy of Greer’s recently published book Philanthropy Revolution: How to Inspire Donors, Build Relationships and Make a Difference.

About the Panelists:

UNA O. OSILI, Ph.D., (keynote speaker), is a global expert on philanthropy and social innovation. She has more than two decades of experience in leadership, economic policy and research across public and private sectors, and recently testified to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee on supporting charitable giving during the Covid-19 crisis. Dr. Osili is the Associate Dean for Research and International Programs, Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. She leads the research and publication of Global Resource Flows Index and the Global Philanthropy Environment Index, as well as the research and publication of Giving USA, the annual report on American philanthropy. Dr. Osili is the Founder of Generosity for Life – a digital platform that provides new data tools in the area of philanthropy and social impact. She received her bachelor’s degree in economics from Harvard University and her Master’s and Ph.D. from Northwestern University. Non-Profit Times named Dr. Osili to its 2019 “Power and Influence Top 50,” recognizing her leadership in the philanthropic sector.

MICHAEL FLEMING (panelist) is the Executive Director of the David Bohnett Foundation – a grant making foundation charged with “improving society through social activism.” Michael has served on numerous boards and commissions including the Los Angeles Board of Water Power Commissioners – the five member panel that oversees the nation’s largest public utility. He previously served as the President of the East Los Angeles Area Planning Commission and as a Commissioner on the Board of the Los Angeles Convention Center. In 2010, President Barack Obama named Fleming to the White House Council for Community Solutions. Fleming serves on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations, including The Carr Center at Harvard Kennedy School, Southern California Grantmakers and public radio powerhouse KCRW, where he served as Chairman of the Board and Co-Chair of their capital campaign. For nearly 20 years he’s been an adjunct professor of organizational development and public policy at UCLA; from 2013 to 2016 he was also an adjunct professor of public policy at NYU.

LISA GREER (panelist), author of PHILANTHROPY REVOLUTION: How To Improve Donors, Build Relationships, And Make A Difference, is an entrepreneur, investor and philanthropist who has managed her family’s giving for the last decade. She has served on dozens of boards and commissions, including the Beverly Hills Cultural Heritage Commission, the international board of the New Israel Fund, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and the Los Angeles District Attorney Crime Prevention Foundation. Greer also founded two healthcare-related companies and a strategic advisory firm specializing in digital media and entertainment. As a Hollywood studio executive, she managed the online businesses at NBC and Universal Studios, while also launching pioneering ventures into music webcasting. Greer is a mother of five and lives with her husband Joshua and their two youngest children in Los Angeles. For more information, please visit

AASHIKA PATEL (moderator) has more than ten years of fundraising experience with a broad range of organizations, including healthcare, civil liberties, independent schools, cultural institutions, religious, higher education, performing and visual arts, humanitarian aid and children’s advocacy causes. She specializes in working with culturally unique institutions on nuanced approaches to fundraising, activating the next generation of donors, cultivating first-generation American donors, as well as building internal consensus around plans and strategies among leadership and development teams to reach aggressive goals. Having worked with clients in the U.S. and around the world, Patel has garnered particular expertise in the areas of board recruitment and training; campaign planning and development; donor management and reporting; major gift solicitation and stewardship; building planned giving programs at cash-dependent organizations; development officer training and goal-setting; and creating fundraising metrics unique to individual organizations.

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Community matches $40K USO donation from local business

The Beaches Fund is a group of 30 local families, including the Ullmanns, who perform philanthropy solely at the Beaches between Mayport and St.
By Shaun Ryan

Ullmann Wealth Partners and the Ullmann Advised Fund has donated $40,000 to the USO Jacksonville to expand the services offered through its Healthy Military Families Initiative.

The donation was a match for funds raised by the USO from various donors in the community.

“We are pleased to support the USO and our military families,” said company president and financial adviser Glenn Ullmann. “This match demonstrates the big impact small business owners and individuals can have to help those military families in need in our local community.”

Ullmann said his wife, Lisa, suggested he find out more about the USO after returning from a Beaches Fund tour that included the charitable organization. The Beaches Fund is a group of 30 local families, including the Ullmanns, who perform philanthropy solely at the Beaches between Mayport and St. Augustine. In the last four years, the group has given away about $1.1 million to address housing, food and transportation issues that challenge those in need.

The USO, which receives no federal funding, started the Healthy Military Families Initiative in 2018 to provide the young families of active duty personnel with critical resources, such as food, diapers and baby formula.

Ullmann recalled that in the early 1980s when he was a junior officer in the U.S. Air Force, the enlisted personnel were always on food stamps.

“Now, fast-forward 40 years, and guess what?” he said. “They’re still on the poverty line.”

He pointed out that COVID-19 has made the situation worse. Where the non-military spouse might have been employed before, the second income has often gone away as the pandemic impacted local businesses.

He asked USO representatives what they needed, and they said they would like to hire a full-time operations person to help run the food bank. The obstacle: It would cost about $80,000 a year.

So, Ullmann offered to donate $40,000 a year for two years if the USO could raise the rest. And people responded.

A successful business owner who married into a family with a notable philanthropic history – Lisa Ullmann’s father was Henri Landwirth, the man who founded Give Kids The World and Dignity U Wear – Ullman said anyone can be a philanthropist.

“Even if you are putting money into the Salvation Army pot, that’s philanthropy,” he said. “If you are giving to the Red Cross when there’s a hurricane, that’s philanthropy. It doesn’t have to have $10 million behind it. There’s a lot that businesses can do.”

He suggested that people seeking a place to start should contact The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida. Those interested in doing some charitable giving specific to the Beaches can contact The Beaches Fund. In fact, Ullmann said people looking to help can call him at his business.

For further information, go to the Community Foundation’s website at

Subject: How to Win Big Gifts in a Tumultuous Time

Hi, I’m Nicole Wallace, features editor at the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Your faithful correspondent, Eden Stiffman, is hard at work on a project looking …

Major gifts are more important to nonprofits than ever. The wealthy have largely recovered from losses in the stock market at the start of the pandemic, while small-dollar donors are feeling a lot less confident about their finances and job security.

But how do you win big gifts during a public-health crisis? Social distancing means leisurely lunches, in-person visits, and galas are out. To find out what’s working now, my colleague Lisa Schohl talked to savvy major-gift fundraisers to get their advice.

A clear, well-thought-out message is critical. Nonprofits should stress why they need support today — and share data that proves it, says Sunil Oommen, president of Oommen Consulting, a fundraising consultancy in New York. For example, an advocacy organization could explain that it needs to pay staff to help urge members of Congress to pass an emergency bill.

Talk about the “predictable future,” he suggests.What will happen to your community if your organization doesn’t get those resources?

Oommen recommends that fundraisers prioritize the donors most likely to give now, including those who already support your nonprofit and who are least affected by the economic crisis. Give those key individuals special attention, but don’t neglect your other contributors.

Reach out to supporters who hold donor-advised funds, says Tiffanie Luckett, senior officer of individual giving at the National Immigration Law Center, which advocates for immigrant rights. “That is a fast way to see a little pick-up in revenue.”

Photo of Tiffanie Luckett of the National Immigration Law Center

In response to Covid-19, the center sent an appeal to donors who give through these accounts — and to the advisers who help manage their money — asking them to consider distributing the dollars now to make up for many smaller-dollar donors who had stopped giving. It was a “runaway success,” Luckett says. Although the mailing went to a small subset of donors, it raised more money than the group’s 2019 year-end direct-mail outreach.

Fundraisers are getting creative, adding offline touches to online events. When Father Joe’s Villages, a homeless services charity in San Diego, took its gala online because of the coronavirus, the fundraisers did “door drops” for some key donors, says Wendy Endsley, associate director of development.

Endsley’s team left bottles of wine that the group would have served at the in-person gala on those donors’ doorsteps with a note reminding them to participate in the online auction.

The nonprofit also began holding Zoom “investor calls” as a way to give contributors a “taste of being on site,” Endsley says. The first call, in which the CEO and medical director talked about the group’s work responding to Covid, prompted a $10,000 gift from a new supporter. The calls were so well received that Father Joe’s expanded the format to feature program leaders at different locations, showcasing various aspects of its work.

For more examples and expert advice, read the full story.

Hear From You

How is major-gift fundraising going at your nonprofit? What advice would you offer your colleagues? Drop me a line, and we might include your comments in a future newsletter.

Driving systems change on the African continent

For instance, the South African Reserve Bank is investigating the possibility of a digital currency backed by the rand. Find more information about crypto …

In recognition of the need to address systemic problems that have hindered the potential growth of Africa for decades and accelerate systems change initiatives across the continent, African Philanthropy Forum (APF) launched the APF Systems Change Program to build an African network of systems change leaders and philanthropists who can help cultivate conditions to make their transformative visions a reality.

The Systems Change Program, which began with a rigorous selection process managed by Dalberg, is a pilot with six initiatives led by system entrepreneurs who are solving problems in multiple SDG areas, including quality education, decent work, and economic growth, good health and wellbeing, clean water and sanitation and reduced inequality. It is a direct response to the need to think differently and accelerate when considering Africa’s problems and solutions.

The Program commenced in May 2020 and was publicly launched at a virtual event on August 20, where panelists and the system entrepreneurs took part in a stimulating conversation about Driving Systems Change in Africa towards achieving sustainable and inclusive development. The speakers included Randy Newcomb, Senior Advisor at The Omidyar Group; Dr. Angela Gichaga, CEO of Financing Alliance for Health; Mosun Layode, Executive Director, African Philanthropy Forum; Elena Bonometti, CEO, Tostan International; as well as Jeff Walker, Chairman New Profit/APF Board Member who served as the moderator.

“There is a need to work and change the whole system rather than focus on smaller group activities.” – Jeff Walker.

The conversation addressed the need to ensure an extensive lens is used to view the world as a whole and make informed decisions, not assumptions. “The role of system thinking is to get us out of the trap of thinking about issues as individual parts instead of a whole. Systems thinking approach has enabled us to view the world in a broader view and as a series of complex interventions.’’ – Randy Newcomb.

During the discussions, it was emphasized that there is a need to ensure that all parties involved understand that systems are not simplistic or linear, it requires time to understand and the ability to trust the process.

“No one stakeholder has the full answer. We must see our organizations as the tree and also see the ecosystem as the forest and figure out how to balance the two. As a tree, what is my role and how do I map 14 Chris Maduike Street Lekki Phase 1 | Lagos, Nigeria Anslow Office Park, 8 Anslow Crescent, Bryanston, 2021 | Johannesburg, South Africa the other trees in the forest, understand how to leverage their visibility and relationship.”- Angela Gichaga.

Experts also delved into the importance of transforming the social change model to the system change model and two vital areas to focus on- sustainability and the importance of data. “Reliable data is the best way to make informed decisions, it is vital in the decision-making process.”- Elena Bonometti.

The speakers also discussed the funding gap, which has been made more evident due to the occurring pandemic and the need to create a collaborative system whereby the long-lasting change is achieved. “The disruption caused by the pandemic has heightened the realities we face as Africans and presents an opportunity for African philanthropists to rise up to the challenge of fixing our very fragile systems.’’- Mosun Layode.

Through the Systems Change Program, APF serves as the connecting glue that joins the system entrepreneurs to the vital resources they need to achieve transformational impact in Africa. The organizations participating in the program will receive support in areas including, partner engagement, leadership development, organizational capacity building, communications, policy advocacy, improving operations, and developing new ideas. They will also benefit from access to a ready pool of African philanthropists and other mentors who can help catalyze step-changes in impact. Participating organizations include Delta Philanthropies/Higherlife Foundation, LEAP Africa, Malawi Agricultural and Industrial Investment Corp (MAIIC), Sesame Workshop South Africa, Teach for Nigeria, as well as The END Fund.

The program is funded by Delta Philanthropies, Walker Family Foundation, Ford Foundation, and supported by C.S. Mott Foundation, Dalberg, and Bertha Centre for Social Innovation and Entrepreneurship.

The African Philanthropy Forum is a strong and vibrant community of partners who through their strategic giving, investments, and influence, foster shared prosperity on the African continent.

Watch video on The Power of Collective Giving in Time of Crisis here.

Conversica Announces Fundraising Intelligent Virtual Assistant

The Conversica Fundraising AI Assistant enables development teams to personalize outreach for donors at scale and ensure all donors are treated as …

FOSTER CITY, Calif., July 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Conversica, Inc., the leader in Intelligent Virtual Assistants helping organizations attract, acquire and grow customers at scale, announced today it is equipping development teams and organizations to drive personalized engagement with donors, surface new donation interest, and nurture repeat giving among its existing donor base with the launch of a new fundraising Intelligent Virtual Assistant.

According to the 2018 Fundraising Effectiveness Report, 50 percent of donors don’t contribute to an organization after their first year of donations. In tough times instigated by COVID-19, it’s more important than ever for fundraisers to retain donors and develop relationships that will result in lasting engagement. Today’s fundraising organizations may not have dedicated employees responsible for both identifying prospective donors and cultivating relationships with current donors to maintain a reliable source of funding to keep their organizations afloat. In fact, development roles typically have high-turnover, making it challenging to build advocacy with donors.

The Conversica Fundraising AI Assistant enables development teams to personalize outreach for donors at scale and ensure all donors are treated as valuable. The Fundraising AI Assistant engages potential donors or reaches out to current donors immediately upon initial interest and continues to qualify and nurture them until they move to a meeting stage or opt out of further communication—which could be in one day, a few months or even a year. Key benefits of the Conversica Fundraising AI Assistant include:

  • Reaching out to prospective donors who have signaled interest or members of the community who have not donated;
  • Driving retention and repeat giving;
  • Determining interest for increased giving and communicating options for ongoing and major giving plans;
  • Proactively reaching out to previous donors; and
  • Providing metrics on donor follow-up and response rates to be sure every donor is receiving personal attention.

“Now more than ever every cent matters and organizations like nonprofits or higher ed institutions must remain laser focused on retaining and expanding donors and managing donations. The Conversica Fundraising AI Assistant helps to augment teams that are typically very resource constrained by engaging donors in a personalized way and moving them to giving. IVAs can also follow-up with donors on an individual level following a large fundraising event,” said Amelia Farber, Director of Global Partnerships at Conversica. “Conversica bridges the gap between annual giving and major gifts by improving the quality of donors handed off to front line fundraisers, allowing them to focus on building relationships and securing gifts. It’s a level of digital efficiency for fundraising teams that was simply not possible before.”

Conversica is offering the Fundraising Intelligent Virtual Assistant via its reseller program. The company has a standing alliance with MPW Strategies to help those institutions accelerate fundraising even during these challenging times, and will be working with additional resellers, such as Polar Strategy to help organizations hire their first fundraising IVA.

“This technology is a game changer, helping fundraisers where they need it most – striking up conversations with a large number of prospects that are traditionally not responsive and determining their interest in becoming more involved. Organizations can now connect and build relationships with much larger audiences than ever thought possible. It’s a tremendous solution for not only overcoming constraints from social distancing because of COVID-19, but as a permanent solution to connect and engage with donors and prospects at a scale not achieved by people alone. We are thrilled to be partnering with Conversica to bring this powerful technology to nonprofit and higher-ed fundraising,” said Matt Wasserman, Co-Founder of MPW Strategies.

About Conversica

Conversica is a leading provider of Intelligent Virtual Assistants helping organizations attract, acquire and grow customers at scale. A Conversica Intelligent Virtual Assistant is an AI-powered, SaaS-based software application that serves as a virtual team member and autonomously engages contacts, prospects, customers or partners in human-like, two-way interactions at scale to drive towards the next best action accelerating revenue; whether that’s scheduling a sales meeting, gauging interest to buy additional products or services, or politely but persistently collecting overdue payments. Reaching out to over 100 million people on behalf of thousands of companies, Conversica’s Intelligent Virtual Assistants are built on a proven and patented platform integrating natural language understanding (NLU), natural language generation (NLG), autonomous action chains and deep learning capabilities that engage prospects over multiple communication channels and in multiple languages. Recognized as one of the fastest-growing companies year over year and ranked among the Deloitte Technology Fast 500, Inc. 5000 and Fast Company’s most innovative AI companies. Conversica is a portfolio company of Providence Equity, Kennet Partners and Toba Capital and is headquartered in Foster City, CA. To learn more, visit and follow the company on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.


Conversica Media Contacts:

Deborah Mullan, Conversica

Director of Corporate Communications

Jessica Shapow, on behalf of Conversica

Conversica Fundraising AI Assistant Reseller Contacts:

MPW Strategies Contacts:

Matt Wasserman

John Pepperdine

Polar Strategies Sales Contacts:

Omar Mahmood

Mohammad Arslan