- All Stars Project, a national grassroots organization focused on urban youth development
- ASP was a critical juncture in its organizational growth, particularly in staffing and structuring its development team for national success
- Need for frontline fundraisers in a regionally-distributed staffing model
All Stars Project, a national grassroots organization focused on urban youth development, had grown its operations and support base over nearly 40 years in operation. With 2 performing arts and afterschool development centers and 3 offices across five metropolitan markets, All Stars Project was looking to reach its next level of visibility and impact on the national stage but was at a critical juncture in its organizational growth, particularly in staffing and structuring its development team for success on a national level.
Chris Street, Chief Development Officer, had been with the organization since 1992 and has led the fundraising since 2000. While All Stars had a 20-year track record of fundraising growth, and its 100% privately-funded model had successful produced a community of 5,000 supporters, the growing complexity of the operation had outstripped the institutional knowledge needed to advance to the next level.
After meeting Aspen Leadership Group’s Ron Schiller at the CASE Winter Institute for Chief Development Officers, Chris contacted Ron because of his approach to fundraising.
Chris says, “I don’t see myself as a fundraiser; I see myself as a long-term stakeholder of this organization. Ron’s philosophy of ‘Enabling philanthropic partnerships where caring people give through organizations to realize shared goals, so they accomplish great things together’ really resonated with me. We wanted to consolidate our growth, systematize our practice, and think in a more aspirational way with our philanthropic partners.”
All Stars Project was looking to hire more talent for its Development team, but Chris was unsure of how to construct and manage an expanded and nationally distributed team. Ron helped Chris create structures for Development department management and a fundraising cabinet that had not previously existed. With Ron’s help, Chris promoted a young emerging leader to national Director of Development to lead a peer group of regional directors, and Ron was able to provide executive coaching to support her as a new leader.
With this new model in place, All Stars Project needed to fill the new positions in its markets. Given ALG’s intimate knowledge of the organization’s mission, vision, and structure, it was a natural evolution to tap ALG’s executive search services. At the same time, Chris was thinking ahead to how he would nurture and retain his development team. Throughout the searches, Ron and Chris had candid conversations about candidates, compensation needs, and appropriate training and management support. These recommendations ultimately prompted internal changes to better compete for talent; working with the CFO and the C-suite, All Stars Project developed a plan for talent retention and pathways for professional development, and won Board of Directors support for these priorities, positively changing how the company is able to invest in its Development department and its employees overall.
With a functional team of regional fundraising leaders in all five markets, including three placed by Aspen Leadership Group, Ron stayed on hand as an executive coach for Chris. Together, they have worked on strengthening Chris’s leadership skills as a chief fundraiser and strategizing how to use his unique role as a member of ASP’s long-tenured senior team to enhance major philanthropic partnerships.
Aspen Leadership Group also facilitated a retreat with All Stars Project’s full staff, which Street says have had a powerful impact on the organization’s overall culture of philanthropy. “Many of the staff who were most impacted on by the conversation with Ron, were our front line program leaders, many of whom were responsible for direct engagement of our philanthropic partners as program volunteers. Ron empowered the whole national staff as relationship-builders,” says Street.
Later, Ron partnered with All Stars President & CEO Gabrielle Kurlander to conduct a roundtable with 10 of All Stars Project’s largest philanthropic donors and board members. “Our comprehensive campaign was already in motion and we had begun to achieve seven-figure commitments. But gathering this small group of leaders in one room and having them talk together about why they were passionate about supporting All-Stars Project, and how they could work together to deepen & broaden the organization’s impact was powerful.” Two partners made multi-million dollar leadership commitments following the retreat, and all of the leadership-level philanthropic partners now feel a deeper sense of engagement and purpose.
“I have spent 26 years in development for the All Stars Project, and we came up from the grassroots starting with door knocking and cold calling. So we have been used to the hard grind of building something from scratch, including in recent years expanding our efforts across the country. With the support of Ron and the ALG team, we are now able to build on this history by approaching conversations with more confidence and with a long-term partnership building mindset. We are creating a cohesive sense of belief and confidence in our organization, its leaders and practices, and fostering greater connectivity between leading donors. And collectively our team is becoming more effective at closing more – and larger— gifts. This is directly as a result of our strategic work with ALG.”
~ Christopher Street, Chief Development Officer