Nonprofit 411: Sherlock Holmes Meets Major Gift Fundraising

By Diane Remin, President,


You asked for a gift. The donor replied, “Let me think about it.”

Don’t negotiate against yourself.

You’ve just presented a donor with a significant opportunity—whatever that means for your organization. You’ve done your homework. You’re optimistic. But expecting an immediate “yes” is not realistic.

“Let me think about it” is a perfectly natural response. Resist the temptation to jump into negotiations or end the visit without learning more.

Be Sherlock Holmes

You want to better understand what the donor is thinking.   It may be about the amount – but it also may be the timing or even something about the project, itself.  Project/program, amount and timing encompass much of the possible terrain.  It is also possible that “Let me think about it” is a brush-off.  If it is, you want to know that, too.  And by exploring further, you are likely to find out.

The technique is project/program, amount, timing (P.A.T.) PAT yourself on the back to remember it!

Step 1:  Acknowledge the reply:  “I understand you want to think about this opportunity, Susan.”

Step 2:  Project/Program: Confirm that the donor is on board with the project/program. If the donor does not think the opportunity makes sense, game over.  That said, it is unlikely that you have arrived at this point only to discover a lack of enthusiasm.  Most of the time, your yes/no question about the project/program will have returned the donor to “yes” mode.

Step 3:  Amount: Does the amount reflect the type of difference the donor would like to make with this particular opportunity, e.g., “I understand you would like to think it over, Susan, but I’d like to confirm that $25,000/year for four years is the kind of impact you would like to have once you’ve given it some thought.”

  • You are listening for any form of “yes, I just need to think it over” (or talk to my spouse, accountant, etc.). With a “yes,” move to step 5 unless timing issues have been raised.
  • Only negotiate if you get an absolute “no,” i.e., “There is no way we can/will do $25,000/year.”

Step 4:  Timing: Timing issues sound like, “My daughter is getting married, I have two kids in college, I have other commitments, etc.”

  • You can try delaying the start date or scaling the gift so that the payments start small and grow over time. If that doesn’t work, get permission to keep the donor updated and return in the future.

Step 5:  Do not leave without permission for the next step.

  • Propose an in-person follow-up visit so you can be there in-person to answer any questions that may arise..
  • If the donor rejects an in-person follow-up, come to agreement on a time for a follow-up phone call.

Note: If the donor won’t agree to a specific time for follow-up, you may be getting the brush-off.

Summary:  Continue the conversation when a donor says, “Let me think about it.”  Your job is to learn more about what is on the donor’s mind. Is it the project, the amount, and/or the timing that is keeping him/her from taking action right now?  Solve the issue if you can (it may be that the donor simply needs to think about it—which is fine).  Leave with a permission-based next step.

Nonprofit 411: If You Build It, They May Not Come – Non-Technical Considerations When Planning your Knowledge Management Initiative

By Kevin Palmer, Chief Operating Officer, Annkissam

2 - Knowledge Management for Small Nonprofits - Kevin Palmer

Congratulations! You were given the responsibility to overhaul your organization’s approach to knowledge management (KM), including choosing a new tool or system. Several months into the process you make the decision to invest in purchasing a new KM system. You have spent countless hours documenting your exact data needs, working with implementation specialists and, perhaps, engaging a consultant or two to adjust the tool to meet your needs. You have focused nearly exclusively on ensuring the right tool was selected and customized. However, a few weeks after the new system goes live, almost no one at your organization is using it. What happened?

It can be deceptively easy to think that, once you find the right tool, everyone in your organization will see the intrinsic value in posting their information and content. The reality can sometimes be that, without getting buy-in across the organization, your new KM tool can turn into a costly ghost town. Teams or departments may not have seen the benefits in adding their knowledge to the new system. The KM initiative also may not have had executive buy-in at the top of the organization, making it difficult to ask teams to investment time in learning and using the new system without top-down support. There can be a number of critical non-technical, non-system KM considerations that are foundational to your initiative’s success. Below are a few of those considerations that go beyond choosing the right tool:

  • Pull together a cross-functional team of people representing different departments and groups. Those representatives will have a say in the KM implementation and be able to advocate for their team’s needs. They will also act as champions of the initiative within those teams, helping to spread support for the initiative across the organization.
  • Work with your organization’s executive director to secure their buy-in. Having executive support can help make the implementation a priority across the organization.
  • Include critical documents or announcements in your system to require that staff access it on a regular basis. It may be helpful to work with your organization’s operations team to determine what kinds of forms or documents could be posted so that the new KM system would be the only location to access that information.
  • Establish a point person to not only manage implementation prior to launch but also lead the KM initiative months and years after go-live. Knowledge management can be thought of as a form of gardening. When you plan your garden you need to ensure there is enough water, proper sunlight and the right kind of soil to let your plants grow. (Think of securing executive buy-in, establishing your cross-functional team and selecting the right tool as foundational requirements for your KM garden.) After your plants (useful content and knowledge) germinate and grow, your job as a gardener is not finished. You must continue to nurture, prune and weed your garden to ensure that it thrives. Designating a long-term KM point person (gardener) will help your organization to continually assess how teams are using the system, what changes or improvements should be better facilitate information flow and what irrelevant or outdated content should be removed (weeded) from the system. It can be a significant organizational investment to have Knowledge Manager be part of someone’s role responsibilities, but it is one that can help promote the long-term success of your KM initiative.

Nonprofit 411: The Importance of Succession Planning for Your Nonprofit Organization

By Dennis Gilligan, SVP Sales Leader, Eastern Insurance Group LLC

Your nonprofit organization may be dependent on a team of volunteers on the Board and on the staff to run its operations. Even if a team member commits to long-term service, things happen in life that may cause a disruption to their commitment. Your nonprofit should be prepared for unexpected changes, such as the resignation of a key Board member or a dedicated staff member.

To preserve the organization in this event, your team should engage in succession planning. This is the process by which you determine specific critical roles within your nonprofit, identify and assess possible successors for these roles, and provide these successors with the necessary skills and training for future opportunities

By creating a careful plan of action, your nonprofit organization can make sure the least amount of disruption occurs in the event that a key board member or staff member leaves.


Need for Succession Planning

Nonprofit organizations are similar to for-profit organizations because Board members or staff members can unexpectedly leave, move to a different position, or fail to fulfill their role.

Recruitment and training of top talent can be difficult and time consuming, particularly when trying to fill a vital position that was suddenly vacated. It is generally more effective to recruit from within to fill these roles, and succession planning can make this process more efficient.


Succession Planning Process

The following activities are typically part of the succession planning process:

  • Determine the roles and skills critical to your organization’s growth.
  • Guarantee that the Board and staff will manage succession transition smoothly.
  • Identify key Board or staff members who could fill other roles in the event of a vacancy and ensure they are highly engaged and satisfied with their roles and the organization itself.
  • Create a timeline for leadership successions that are planned.
  • Cross train staff members on various roles to prepare them for a possible unexpected role shift.
  • Identify and understand what team members filling those positions will need to effectively make the transition.
  • Support newly-placed staff members through a clear explanation of responsibilities, training, mentoring, and coaching.
  • Review, evaluate, and improve the succession planning process as role filling takes place.

Losing a key leader or staff member can be a big burden if you are not prepared. Succession planning can help ensure minimal interruption so that your nonprofit can focus on making a difference rather than disruptions. For more information on recruitment and retention strategies, please contact us at 800-333-7234.

Provided by Eastern Insurance Group LLC | This article is not intended to be exhaustive nor should any discussion or opinions be construed as legal advice. Readers should contact legal counsel or an insurance professional for appropriate advice.

Nonprofit 411: Negotiating a Major Gift—Respectfully

By Diane G. Remin, President,


Setting the Stage:  You just asked for a gift, and received a response that falls into one of three broad categories:

  • Yes. That one is easy.
  • “Let me think about it”—and all its variations, e.g., I have to talk to my <fill-in the blank>. “Let me think about it” is not a trigger to negotiate. Ask questions. The donor may simply need time to think. If you are uncertain, then err on the side of caution:  don’t negotiate.  But do schedule a next visit.
  • No way: “There is no way in the world I/we can do that” or “I/we can’t possibly afford that much.”  You are listening for an absolute “no” that will be expressed through the words, voice tone and body language. It’s time to negotiate.

The following are not immediate negotiation triggers:

  • “Wow, that’s a lot of money.” This is an observation, not a definitive statement that the donor can’t or won’t make the gift. Respond with an “impact statement,” e.g., “With that gift, you will be <fill-in the blank>.”

Tip:  Refrain from inserting your own money values into the conversation.  A seemingly empathetic reply of, “Yes, that is a lot of money,” may encourage the donor to recalibrate. Focus on impact: “A gift like that will <example of what the gift will accomplish>” or “You will be making a big difference.”

  • “I wasn’t expecting that.” This is an expression of surprise that can mean many things. Keep the focus on the project and on how involved the donor wants to be in the opportunity you presented.
  • “How did you come up with that number?” Respond with known interest in the organization/work, not process: “We know how much you care about <nonprofit or the particular program/project> and thought you would want to take a leadership role” or “thought this might be the level at which you would want to be involved.”

3-Step Donor-respectful Negotiation Strategy

Note:  Although the principles apply to gifts of all sizes, this 3-step process was designed with gifts under $1M in mind.

  1. Try a timing solution: If you asked for the gift as a lump-sum, e.g., for an outright $100,000, test a timing solution: “Would you be able to fund this project the way you’d like to if we spread your gift over time—would $25,000 a year for 4 years for a total of $100,000 make it possible?”
  2. Reduce the ask amount by 50%: If timing doesn’t get you to “yes,” then halve the amount and re-ask.

Why 50%?

  • If the donor could come close to the amount you asked for, you wouldn’t hear an emphatic “no way.”
  • Even if 50% is still too high, it’s clear you are listening.
  • It doesn’t feel like haggling.

3. Invite the donor to name an amount: If a 50% reduction doesn’t do it, then ask the donor at what level s/he would like to             participate: “So John, I know you would like to support the initiative…. Tell me what amount works for you.”

Whether or not a gift results, this simple, respectful negotiation strategy insures that the donor and solicitor feel good at the conclusion of the conversation.


Nonprofit 411: Alert! Wire Transfer Fraud

By Russell Greenwald, VP and Director, Technology Consulting Practice, Insource Services, Inc.


Wire fraud emails are personalized, well-crafted emails that look official and appear to be coming from a member of an organization’s senior leadership. Often they ask for personal information or for money to be sent immediately. They are very convincing and can be alarming to the recipient. ANY email that asks for a wire transfer warrants a second set of eyes. If you have doubts about the email, request a second form of validation as a control to confirm the authenticity of the email. You can also ask your IT department to inspect the email to validate the legitimacy of the request.

Recently, one of our clients had a scammer contact them – luckily they weren’t fooled, but their story illustrates how clever these scammers can be.

The scammer emailed the company CEO pretending to be their Board Chair. His email address looked legitimate and official. The email asked a simple question, “are you around?” Once they connected via email, the “Board Chair” asked the CEO for assistance to transfer the funds, and that’s when the red flags surfaced. To confirm this wasn’t a scam, the CEO replied asking two questions that he believed only the Chairman would know the answer to: his dog’s name and the model of his car. The scammer almost instantly responded with the correct answers, even adding humor to the response.

Still concerned with the validity of the request, the CIO was brought in to assess the situation. He quickly showed the CEO and CFO that a basic Google search of the Board Chair’s name and dog or car resulted in a photo of the Board Chair with his dog – along with the dog’s name. And in the background of the picture? His car! After the scammer responded with a $50,000 request and wire account information, the CEO asked him a very specific question about his family to verify his legitimacy and the scammer went silent. Undoubtedly moving on to another target.

Another example of this scam occurred when a sales based company was nearing their end of quarter and sales reps were working long hours to quickly close deals. A phishing email came in prompting a representative to click on the linked contract, which then re-prompted them to enter their username and password which they did. The same email then went out to the entire company from the initial recipient. At least 30 additional representatives also entered their information in real time which pre-tempted the raising of a red flag.

These scammers are deliberate and calculating. To ensure that this doesn’t happen to you, here is our wire fraud identification checklist:

  1. Check the “from” address carefully. Is the domain name misspelled, i.e. off by one letter?
  2. If the general attitude of the message seems out of ordinary, it probably is fraud.
  3. Always ask for a second form of validation when there is a sensitive request made via email. A phone call is best, but asking for a text to your personal cell phone with a pre-determined secret word can also be effective.
  4. Seek a second opinion as often as you like. It is always best to err on the side of caution.
  5. Look into anti-spam/phishing software that helps prevent these types of emails, even beyond user training. We suggest

Too Many Nonprofits? We Need to Answer the Bigger Question

By David Shapiro and Jim Klocke

In recent weeks, the question of whether Massachusetts has “too many” nonprofits has reemerged.  There are a number of factors that should be considered, including nonprofits’ immense economic impact—one in every six jobs in the Commonwealth.  But we think there’s a bigger question at hand.  Are we doing enough, and in the right way, to solve the challenges that nonprofits and their partners (in government, philanthropy, business, and the public) work on every day?

Those challenges are at the heart of the promise of our Commonwealth and our nation.  How do we broaden pathways to opportunity?  How do we help communities thrive?  How do we improve our quality of life, particularly for the most vulnerable members of our society?  

We believe three areas are critical:  innovation, resources, and determining what works.  Let’s take a look at how we can get better in each of them.

Innovation:  Innovation abounds in the nonprofit sector–but more is needed.  The spectrum of nonprofit innovations is amazing, from cutting-edge biomedical research to new ways of financing community development.  But do we have enough good ideas for all of the challenges facing society?  No.  To promote more innovation, we need to keep the doors open wide to new ideas, and sometimes this means new organizations.  We must also ensure we are drawing on existing infrastructure and expertise to maximize impact, address any redundancies, and bring people and organizations together in ways that spark new ideas.  The latter point—collaboration—requires intentionality and presents great opportunity, notwithstanding the risks involved.  The appetite for risk that breeds game changing ideas in the private sector must be applied to nonprofits by those who invest in and operate them.

Resources:  Considerable resources flow to the nonprofit sector—and yet more are needed.  At the most macro level, consider the unmet needs in fields such as healthcare and workforce readiness.  In addition, there are solutions throughout the nonprofit sector that lack only the capital to be taken to scale.  The best places to apply new resources include newly-emerged problems, new solutions to new and old problems, or the expansion of existing ideas that have been proven to work.  But they must allow nonprofits to operate from a position of stability and strength.  The “do more with less” approach we have often made our nonprofits wear as a badge of honor can backfire, diluting their effectiveness.

Determining What Works:  The nonprofit sector’s focus on evaluation is growing–but it needs to grow more.  Evaluation is critical to making the most of existing nonprofit capacity, and adding new capacity when it is needed.  The good news is that the nonprofit community and its funders are working together more on evaluation.  Early views of “everything should be measured” or “we can’t measure anything” are giving way.  They’re being replaced by a common understanding that evaluation is important, difficult, and a long-term effort.   

If the nonprofit sector and its partners get it right in those three areas—innovation, resources, and determining what works—the question of how many nonprofits we should have will take care of itself.  And we’ll do a better job of building a more perfect Commonwealth.  We’ll continue to be a beacon for the nation with a strong, high-impact nonprofit sector that improves people’s lives.

David Shapiro is the Board Chair of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network and President and CEO of MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership.  Jim Klocke is the CEO of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network.

Nonprofit 411: Metrics Based Financial Management

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By Paul Konigstein, Senior Consultant
Accounting Management Solutions, a CliftonLarsonAllen LLP Division

Program activities in most nonprofit sectors are becoming evidence based as nonprofits develop metrics to measure program effectiveness. While funders, boards, and nonprofit managers are gradually perceiving the value of program metrics, they have been slower to recognize the value of financial metrics. Hidden within the financial statements is important data which indicates the financial sustainability of your nonprofit. Unlocking that data with financial metrics provides critical guidance for financial and programmatic decisions.

The most important metric is the current ratio, which is defined as current assets divided by current liabilities. Both these numbers should be on your Statement of Financial Position (also known as the balance sheet). If your statement does not separate assets and liabilities into current and non-current, ask your preparer of financials to do so. If you want use accounting lingo, tell her you want a Classified Balance Sheet. This does not mean that your balance sheet is top secret, but rather that assets and liabilities are classified into current and non-current portions.

Current means one year or less in the future. A current asset is cash or anything that you could reasonably be able to convert to cash in less than one year. Examples of current assets include; money promised to you by donors and program service fees owed to you by clients. Long-term assets are those which usually take longer than one year to convert to cash to meet your obligations. These include buildings, furniture, and equipment.

A current liability is money you will have to pay out in less than one year.
Examples include money owed to vendors, office lease payments for the next year, and the balance on your line of credit. A long-term liability is money you will have to pay out in more than one year. Examples include a balloon payment at the end of a mortgage or money owed in more than a year on a copier lease.

The current ratio is designed to measure your nonprofit’s ability to meet its financial obligations.
If your current ratio is greater than or equal to one, your organization has enough assets to meet its obligations during the coming year. The greater the number, the more financially sustainable is the nonprofit. If your current ratio is less than one, you are probably experiencing cash flow problems and may be borrowing or delaying some payments to make ends meet.

If your current ratio is less than one, develop a plan to increase revenues or reduce expenses to increase your cash on hand. Postpone activities which require a significant cash outlay such as opening a new site, developing a new program, or moving to a new office until your current ratio improves.

How far below one your current ratio can go without triggering a crisis  depends on the characteristics of your nonprofit. Sectors such as social services where revenue typically comes from reimbursement contracts and clients who may have difficulty paying typically have a lower current ratio than sectors such as international public health where revenue typically comes from grants paid in advance of program delivery. Generally speaking, if your current ratio is less than ½, take immediate action to reduce expenses.

Other metrics can be derived from financial statements, but the current ratio is ideal for developing familiarity with financial metrics since it addresses the most fundamental aspect of a nonprofit: sustainability.

Nonprofit 411: What are the responsibilities of individual board members?

By Michelle Y. Hatch, BlumShapiro

michelle headshop

In my previous article, I laid out the overarching responsibilities of non-profit boards, which include big-picture strategic planning; selecting executive staff members; overseeing executive leadership; approving the organization’s budgets; overseeing compensation for staff members and leadership; and fundraising.

In this article, I will focus on the responsibilities of each individual board member.

Understand your fiduciary responsibilities

As members of non-profit organizations’ governing bodies, individual board members must adhere to the legal responsibilities of fiduciaries. A fiduciary is a “person who has the power and an obligation to act on behalf of another under circumstances that require total trust, good faith and honesty.”

As fiduciaries, non-profit board members have three specific legal duties:

  • Duty of Care: To act with such care as an ordinary, prudent person would employ in your position.
  • Duty of Loyalty: To act in good faith and in a manner you reasonably believe is in the best interest of the organization.
  • Duty of Obedience: To be faithful to the organization’s mission. You are not permitted to act in a way that is inconsistent with the central goals of the organization. A basis for this rule lies in the public’s trust that the organization will manage donated funds to fulfill the organization’s mission.

Long story short: board members must, at all times, act in the best interest of the non-profit organizations they represent.

Educate yourself on the organization you represent

In order to responsibly serve on a non-profit’s board, members should understand the organization’s mission, strategic vision and financial situation. That means reviewing:

  • Audited financial statements of past years
  • The organization’s Form 990
  • Missions and values of the organization
  • The organization’s bylaws
  • The organization’s most recent strategic plan
  • Current financial statements

Once new board members are initiated, they should review all provided information in advance of board meetings, including financial information, so that each member is prepared to make informed and responsible decisions.

Joining committees to stay involved with the organization

Most non-profit boards have committees dedicated to specific organizational efforts. These committees vary based on the size and operations of each organization.

Individual board members should actively seek out committees relevant to their specific skill sets and interests.


Michelle Y. Hatch, CPA, is an accounting partner with BlumShapiro, the largest regional business advisory firm based in New England, with offices in Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The firm, with over 400 professionals and staff, offers a diversity of services, which includes auditing, accounting, tax and business advisory services. In addition, BlumShapiro provides a variety of specialized consulting services, such as succession and estate planning, business technology services, employee benefit plan audits, litigation support and valuation.  The firm serves a wide range of privately held companies, government and non-profit organizations and provides non-audit services for publicly traded companies.

Disclaimer: Any written tax content, comments, or advice contained in this article is limited to the matters specifically set forth herein. Such content, comments, or advice may be based on tax statues, regulations, and administrative and judicial interpretations thereof and we have no obligation to update any content, comments or advice for retroactive or prospective changes to such authorities. This communication is not intended to address the potential application of penalties and interest, for which the taxpayer is responsible, that may be imposed for non-compliance with tax law.

Nonprofit Awareness Day: Celebrating the Now and Preparing for the Future

Yesterday, House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Senate President Stan Rosenberg, and Secretary of Education Jim Peyser joined 250 business leaders and nonprofit professionals from across Massachusetts in the Great Hall of the State House to celebrate Nonprofit Awareness Day, presented by Citizens Bank.

Secretary of Education Jim Peyser, who spent half of his career working for nonprofits, said that while “Massachusetts has one of the most vibrant and effective nonprofit sectors in the country,” that those in attendance must continue to “provide means and capacity to address some of our biggest issues.”

“Each and every one of you has risen to the challenge,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said, reminding those assembled of the invaluable contributions the nonprofit sector has made in helping Massachusetts to remain a fair, just, and caring Commonwealth. Speaker DeLeo further noted that “You’re on the front lines,” as he thanked those in attendance for the essential work they take on day in and day out.
Senate President Stan Rosenberg joked that his “specialty is depressing large groups of people all at the same time,” but he nevertheless assured the attendees: “I depress you only to challenge you. Together we are going to face some very significant challenges in the Commonwealth.” He strongly urged the nonprofit sector to to see these challenges as opportunities.
The 2016 Excellence Award Finalists on the Grand Staircase

“There’s a lot of power in this room,” Rick Musiol, Senior Vice President and Regional Director of Public Affairs, New England at Citizens Bank, said. And it was this power, this hope, that filled every face.

“We’re grateful to Citizens Bank,” said Jim Klocke, CEO of the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network, “For continuing their support of Nonprofit Awareness Day, which gives us a chance to recognize the essential role nonprofits play in strengthening the Commonwealth and celebrate their tremendous accomplishments through the Excellence Awards.”

The audience of gathered nonprofit leaders and business partners could hardly restrain their applause as the 30 finalists were honored for their work and the seven Nonprofit Excellence Award winners were announced. These seven organizations and professionals were recognized for the essential, creative, and passionate work they do throughout the Commonwealth.

Congratulations to the 2016 Excellence Award Winners:
Advocacy: Changing the Game
Collaboration: Collective Impact
Communications: Telling Your Story
Innovation: Finding New Ways
Leadership: Guiding the Ship
Small Nonprofit: Doing More with Less
Young Nonprofit Professional: Forging the Future

Intermingled with the jubilation at the accomplishments of the nonprofit sector, government and elected leaders highlighted the ongoing partnership between government and the nonprofit sector.

Personal and heartfelt stories and experiences accompanied each award winner as they mounted the stage to thunderous applause that set the flags of the Great Hall waving.
Thanks to everyone who told the world why #nonprofitsmakesense

Jeff Fatchaline, who accepted the Award in Communication on behalf of the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus, recounted the discrimination that the group faced recently when traveling abroad, a reminder of the work still to be done for LGBT equality. An impassioned Laurie “Duck” Caldwell of the Boston Area Gleaners accepted the award for Excellence by a Small Nonprofit on behalf of the one-in-ten individuals in Massachusetts who still do not have enough food. With tears in her eyes, Katrina Shaw of the Freedom House accepted the award for Excellence in Leadership and declared that “We need to do better” in order to provide a secure environment for children to discover their possibilities.

While the stories of the winners varied, the passion was universal, whether it was a commitment to improve children’s vision despite a scarcity of resources, a determination to fight for the rights of fishermen in the face of unfair legislation, a resolve to end alienation among gender nonconforming youth, or a desire to create safe and loving communities for foster children. All battles, according to the winners, that are far from over.

We hope that yesterday’s event, the stories of the Nonprofit Excellence Award winners, and the #nonprofitsmakesense social media campaign reminded you all of the breadth and depth of the state’s nonprofit sector and the unlimited potential we have as a sector when we stand together. More pictures of the event are to come.

Meet the 2016 Excellence Awards Finalists: Leadership

Every year, MNN honors the dedication, passion, and impact of nonprofit organizations and leaders through the Nonprofit Excellence Awards. This year, our panel of judges reviewed over 200 nominations that highlighted the incredible impact of nonprofits from every sub-sector and corner of the state. Now, it’s time to honor the leaders of the nonprofit sector.

The Nonprofit Excellence Award for Leadership recognizes a nonprofit chief or senior executive whose strategic vision, passion, ethical integrity, innovation, perseverance, and collaborative style has led to extraordinary results in their organization. This individual will not only have identified the current needs for their organization and implemented effective approaches to reach those goals, but will have also worked to further the greater mission of their organization.

Get to know these impressive leaders:

Marisol Amaya-Aluigi, La Alianza Hispana


When Marisol Amaya became the Executive Director of La Alianza Hispana (LAH) in 2013, the organization was teetering on the brink of financial collapse. Knowing the success of the organization would depend on the strength of its network, Marisol set about strengthening the organization through strategy and partnerships in order to restore the image of the agency in the eyes of the community. She also worked tirelessly to improve the processes and internal controls to achieve financial recovery and expand the organization’s programs. She has worked hard to end poverty and discrimination and to provide linguistically and culturally appropriate education and supportive services to Boston families and youth. Under Marisol’s leadership, LAH has become a highly influential nonprofit that serves as a voice and advocate for the Latino Community in Massachusetts.


Deborah Kincade Rambo, LICSW-Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston


Deborah Kincade Rambo’s career at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston (CCAB) has spanned four decades. When she took on the role of president and CEO in 2010, the organization was experiencing an unprecedented demand for basic needs services. Deborah assumed her leadership role with the goal of not only helping the institution become financially sound but also to strategically refocus the organization’s direction toward social service outreach. She shifted CCAB’s focus to services specifically tailored to the working poor, adult education programs, and continued support for refugees coming into the state through its Refugee and Immigration Services. Deborah has continued to be an advocate for the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable, collaborating with elected officials, government agencies, donors, partners, and business leaders, to secure more funding and programs. Under her leadership, CCAB has implemented effective business and data management tools, increased its audience, and continued to meet the ever-growing demand for services.


David Kuehn, Cotuit Center for the Arts


Since becoming Executive Director in 2010, David Kuehn has been recognized as a leader in the arts community. Through his strategic and passionate membership and programming plan, the Cotuit Center for the Arts has grown from just over 150 members in 2010 to more than 1,500 members with tremendous revenue growth. David has dedicated a large part of his energy to the revitalization of the center and spent innumerable hours on organizing renovations and restoring the Center to its former glory. He has tirelessly championed the importance of the arts and culture in all communities and through his leadership the organization has growth from serving a few thousand visitors to more than 40,000 visitors each year. In addition, he has initiated and successfully developed much collaboration among various arts organizations across Cape Cod.


Katrina Shaw, Freedom House


As Chief Executive Officer of the Freedom House, Katrina Shaw uses her wealth of program, operations, and strategy development experience to grow and strengthen the organization. Katrina’s passion for the community in which she grew up guides her efforts to increase the organization’s capacity so that it can continue to be a force for equality and access to education. Since joining the organization, she has worked to expand the organization’s Preparing Urban Students for Success in Higher Education (PUSH) program, growing it from its dwindling 200 students to more than 1,500. Under Katrina’s leadership, the organization has also developed strategic partnerships with local learning institutions which have created a college-going mindset among the students that Freedom House serves.  Due to her unwavering commitment and leadership, today the PUSH program serves 1,500 students annually has seen a substantial increase of students matriculating into Associate’s and Bachelor’s programs.


Lauren Solotar, May Institute


Having worked at the May Institute for nearly 20 years, Dr. Lauren Solotar assumed her role as CEO three years ago, only the second CEO in the May Institute’s 60-year history. As the CEO, Lauren was confronted with a host of challenges upon assuming her position. Her goal upon taking the helm was to make the Institute a more open, engaged, transparent, financially stable, and employee-focused company. Only halfway through her three-year cycle, 96% of Lauren’s goals were complete, as she developed new programs to meet the needs of vulnerable populations, changed the organization’s culture to be more dynamic, and expanded the organization’s philanthropic efforts. In keeping with her belief in the highest clinical standards, Lauren is passionate about setting and achieving the highest clinical standards, and under her leadership, the May Institute is nationally recognized for its clinical leadership on evidence-based practice. In addition, she has been instrumental in helping to shape perception and public policy affecting individuals with special needs.