Five Practical Steps to Diversify your Board of Directors

By JoAnn Yoshimoto, Senior Consultant

Before we plunge into the practical “how-to” ideas, let’s consider a few often-ignored questions: Why are we even having this conversation? Why does board diversity matter? Some of the answers might be philosophical, ethical, equity- or values-based, others might be quantifiable, statistical, evidence-based, but every nonprofit organization must find its own answers to these questions.

Continue reading “Five Practical Steps to Diversify your Board of Directors”

Donald A. Cooke Joins Alford Group as Vice President

CHICAGO, July 20, 2022 – Alford Group is pleased to welcome Donald A. Cooke, Vice President effective July 20, 2022.

“We are very pleased to welcome Don Cooke to Alford Group,” said Brenda B. Asare, President and CEO of Alford Group. “He brings decades of experience in nonprofit management and significant expertise in fundraising with foundations and grant-making organizations. His knowledge and leadership in the national nonprofit community is tremendous and will significantly benefit our clients across the country.”

Throughout his career, Cooke has had hands-on experience in major gifts, multi-million-dollar campaigns, grant-making, board governance and leadership development. He has expertise in establishing fundraising best practices, relationship-building and collaborative leadership.

Most recently prior to Alford Group, Cooke served for 17 years as the Senior Vice President for Philanthropy of the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. His responsibilities included providing strategy, oversight and leadership to the Foundation’s grant-making programs in democracy and civics, communities, education, violence and justice reform, veterans affairs, and special initiatives. He supported race equity training, including with colleagues from other foundations.

Prior to his leadership position with the McCormick Foundation, Cooke worked at the Franklin Institute Science Museum in Philadelphia, serving as director of the Fels Planetarium, vice president for external affairs, and acting museum director. He subsequently headed up fundraising and marketing at the Philadelphia Orchestra and at Chicago’s Field Museum. In these roles, he has raised over $1 billion (including running six capital and endowment campaigns).

“I am excited to join the highly-respected and innovative team at Alford Group,” Cooke said. “I look forward to bringing my expertise and experience to support nonprofits and accelerate their impact across the country. More than ever, it’s a critical time to focus on creating a better world for ALL people, and having worked diligently to promote equity and inclusion, I am particularly pleased that Alford Group holds equity-centered practices as a core value.”

Cooke serves his community in a number of ways. He is an author and frequent lecturer and has served on several nonprofit boards, including the USO Board of Governors (and Chairman of the Midwest region), Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Chairman of Forefront and Illinois Joining Forces. He has been honored by Forefront and the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

About Alford Group

Alford Group is a national, full service consultancy serving nonprofits in nearly every state in the country. Since our founding, we have partnered with over 3,000 nonprofits to accelerate their impact and advance social change. Together, we’re building a world where possibilities are endless and reflect the best of who we are as humans. Alford Group is a Black-owned and -led consultancy, and a proud WBENC-certified women’s business enterprise. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Read Donald A Cooke’s full biography here.


Giving USA: What Lies Ahead for Philanthropy in America

By Araceli Duran, Business Development Associate

Alford Group hosted a webinar that looked at some of the key findings from the new Giving USA report and invited expert panelists to discuss the current state of giving in the country. Let’s take a look at some of the key findings from the report, how you can incorporate them into your organization’s philanthropic strategy and what our panelists had to say on what the findings reveal. Check out this video for a brief summary of the Giving USA results.

3 Key Takeaways from Giving USA 2022


 #1 – Giving reached a record $484.85 billion in 2021

Continue reading “Giving USA: What Lies Ahead for Philanthropy in America”

Giving USA: What Lies Ahead for Philanthropy in America

Webinar | June 29, 2022

The events of 2020-2021 have forever changed the nonprofit community and philanthropy. While they have been unprecedented on so many fronts, the generosity of the American people has been at an all-time high. Throughout these challenging times, the most successful organizations have transformed their programs, operations, how they engage donors and how they advance equity-centered philanthropy. This session will cover fundraising resiliency, insights regarding the future of fundraising, and new ways to approach creating generosity in more inclusive ways.

Take in the Giving USA research, learn about trends among donors both high-net worth and the general public, and hear from an expert panel on what they see lies ahead for philanthropy in America. Join us for this hands-on practical webinar and take new ideas back to your organization to achieve even greater fundraising results.

Moderator: Brenda B. Asare, President and CEO, Alford Group

Giving USA Presenter: Karen Rotko-Wynn, CFRE, Chief Business Enterprise Officer, Alford Group

Expert Panel:

  • Marco Corona, Chief Development Officer, International African American Museum
  • Marguerite Griffin, Director, Philanthropic Advisory Services, Northern Trust
  • Daniel Hungerman, Ph.D., Professor, Economics, University of Notre Dame


#1 Slide Deck: Giving_USA_Presentation_Deck_June_29_Release

#2 Written Summary of Webinar: Found here

Giving USA Report Details
First published in 1956, Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy is the longest running, most comprehensive report on philanthropy in the United States. It is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Alford Group is a longtime supporter of Giving USA and member of The Giving Institute.


Giving USA 2022: The Annual Report on Philanthropy

Video Overview (8 minutes) by Karen Rotko-Wynn, CFRE, Chief Business Enterprise Officer, Alford Group

Learn the key takeaways from this year’s Giving USA report in this short video!

Giving USA Report Details
First published in 1956, Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy is the longest running, most comprehensive report on philanthropy in the United States. It is researched and written by the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Alford Group is a longtime supporter of Giving USA and member of The Giving Institute.

Marketing Associate

Full Time | Remote Position (anywhere in the USA) | Preferred location Chicago, IL

Headquarters is Chicago, IL


Position Purpose

This position supports the firm’s marketing efforts by leading consumer-centric strategies and activities. This position will be responsible for graphic design, writing, and content marketing.

Position Responsibilities and Expectations

Graphic Design

  • Design digital materials, such as infographics, website content, advertisements, social media content and more.
  • Design print materials, such as brochures, one-pagers, sales materials and marketing collateral.
  • Create and alter images for client materials, business proposals and marketing materials.
  • Create and edit video content.
  • Adhere to all brand guidelines and provide editing and design support for all branding across our consultancy.

Content Marketing & Writing

  • Write and edit copy for various marketing channels.
  • Manage Alford Group’s social media accounts. Create and implement a social media content strategy. Write and design social media content.
  • Regularly refresh web content and optimize web pages for search engine optimization (SEO).
  • Bring thought leadership to our marketing strategy by identifying opportunities, conducting research, ghost-writing content for blogs, shaping presentations, etc.
  • Assist with all email marketing efforts, including A/B testing, list segmentation and running audience-specific email campaigns.
  • Write and create content, such as client testimonials and client case studies.
  • Run Google and LinkedIn ads.
  • Assist in running Alford Group-branded webinars.

Additional Responsibilities

  • Assist in planning offline events and conference exhibitions.
  • Manage content analytics to inform Alford Group’s overarching marketing strategy.
  • Review and report on website, social media, email marketing and advertising metrics.
  • Assist in sales activity on an as-needed basis. This may include assisting with business proposal submissions, updating CRM and creating reports.
  • Collaborate with the sales team on lead generation and marketing activity follow up (webinar leads, conference leads, etc.)


  • Bachelor’s degree or equivalent experience.
  • At least six years of professional experience, with at least two years in the nonprofit community, preferably with an emphasis on roles in graphic design, writing and/or marketing.
  • Excellent verbal and written communication skills.
  • High technical proficiency:
    • MS Office Suite including Word, Excel and PowerPoint required
    • Adobe Creative Suite including InDesign, PhotoShop and Illustrator required
    • Experience or ability to learn WordPress.
    • Video editing, such as Adobe Premier or similar expertise is preferred.
    • Experience with content management system (CMS) and/or customer relationship management (CRM) platforms a plus.
  • High attention to detail and excellent analytical, critical thinking and active listening skills
  • Proven proofreading abilities, project management and time management skills
  • Ability to take initiative, simultaneously coordinate multiple projects and manage deadlines
  • Ability to work collaboratively on a team and independently with minimal supervision at times
  • Ability to manage relationships, including client staff and high-level volunteers
  • Some travel may be required

Position Details

About Alford Group

Alford Group is a national, full service consultancy serving nonprofits in nearly every state in the country. Since our founding, we have partnered with over 3,000 nonprofits to accelerate their impact and advance social change.

Alford Group expects each employee to reflect and promote our vision, mission and values.

Vision: A world where possibilities are endless and reflect the best of who we are as humans.

Mission: We accelerate the nonprofit community’s impact and advance social change.

We Value:

  • Honest Partnerships
  • Equity-Centered Practices
  • Continued Learning
  • Joyful Connections

All employees are expected to assist in fulfilling our firm-wide goals and innovation objectives, participate in meetings and contribute to the consultancy’s thought leadership.

Confidential Data

Our team members have access to sensitive, confidential information and are trusted to maintain these files and documents properly.

Physical Demands

The position requires sitting and working on a computer for long periods of time, as well as occasional lifting and carrying of presentation materials and supplies.

Work Environment

Inside average office environment. Average office noise levels. No personal protective equipment required. Currently, working in a virtual environment due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Reports to

Senior Director, Business Development & Marketing


This is a salaried position with a range of $55,000 to $65,000 based on experience and a full benefits package, including a 401K plan and health insurance.

Apply Here

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    Integrating Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Into Your Strategic Plan

    Wednesday, May 4, 2022 | AFP ICON Conference | Las Vegas | 8am – 9:15am

    To move the needle on DEI, organizations must do more than post a statement. Hear from Million Dollar Round Table Foundation, a global nonprofit that has stayed true to its DEI vision two years into its strategic plan. Learn to keep your plan fresh, meaningful and equity-forward.


    • Alexis Cooke, Vice President, Client Service and Innovation, Alford Group
    • Michelle Bibbs, Senior Consultant, Alford Group
    • Michele Stauff, CFRE, Executive Director, Million Dollar Round Table Foundation


    Equity-Centered Philanthropy: Reaching donors of color through data

    Tuesday, May 3, 2022 | AFP ICON Conference | Las Vegas | 10:15am – 11:30am

    It’s time our sector puts diversity, equity and inclusion first in our work in the field of philanthropy. But how? In this session, you will learn the importance of starting with your donor data. See how you can mine, screen, analyze and interpret donor data to help diversify your fundraising.


    • Brenda B. Asare, President and CEO, Alford Group
    • Mary Hackett, Vice President, Alford Group
    • Jill Zimmerman, Chief Philanthropy Officer, Greater Chicago Food Depository

    DOWLOAD PRESENTATION SLIDES: Equity-Centered Philanthropy AFP Icon May 3

    Client Spotlight: LifeWire

    Groundbreaking ceremony for construction and renovations to begin May 2022

    LifeWire is a Washington-based nonprofit that provides compassionate services, safe housing and hope to domestic violence (DV) survivors, children and families in need. LifeWire is the largest DV housing provider in King County, providing emergency and relocation services for survivors and their children who would otherwise have to remain in an abusive home or become homeless. They are recognized nationally as a leader in providing innovative, survivor-driven, trauma-informed care. Domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness for women and children in the nation. Continue reading “Client Spotlight: LifeWire”

    Effective Storytelling: 4 Tips to Best Engage Your Audience

    By Mariah Fosnight, CFRE, Consultant and Doug Wallack, Client Service Associate

    For over 40 years, Alford Group has tested the effectiveness of written material with a variety of stakeholders (donors, volunteers, partners, community leaders, foundation and corporate funders, etc.) for nonprofit organizations ranging in size, sector, lifecycle stage and geography.

    Over that time, we have identified aspects of effective storytelling that remain universally true. Below are four tips to keep in mind while crafting your prose.

    Continue reading “Effective Storytelling: 4 Tips to Best Engage Your Audience”

    Fundraising Data: 3 Secrets to Strong Reporting

    By Mary Hackett, Vice President

    Your fundraising reports should be purposeful and engage your audiences. The right reports can drive better fundraising results and deploy different audiences to act in different ways. Many of our clients come to us when they are at their wit’s end with their reporting. Here is what they say:

    • “I’m frustrated because my monthly fundraising reports take 5x longer than they should.”
    • “I want to produce the right reports, but my database doesn’t exactly export what we need so there’s a lot of manipulation in Excel.”
    • “I don’t have the right visuals that spur conversation or action.”
    • “I’ve been producing the same reports for years and hardly anyone looks at them anymore.”

    Continue reading “Fundraising Data: 3 Secrets to Strong Reporting”