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Creativity, Community and Connectivity at CauseConnect

CauseConnect-logo-stacked-125At CauseConnect, creativity, community, and connectivity are at the core of everything we do, and are aimed at supporting the firm’s focus areas of art, education, and environment.

Creativity: Regardless of the type of project or client — science, finance, automotive, utilities — you can be assured that art is meaningfully woven into every single thing we do. Somewhere along the way, an artist has been involved. For example, CauseConnect hires artists to create original artwork, conduct art demonstrations, perform live, teach a workshop, produce marketing materials, design icons for a website, develop illustrations for an article or a youth drawing page, and more.

Community: It would not be possible to do what we do today without building and nurturing “community” within our work. CauseConnect does not have full-time employees; rather, we are a community of freelance professionals and small businesses who partner on a variety of projects. My firm is hired often to work with a company or a nonprofit for specific projects, events, or campaigns, resulting in a team of folks — both inside and outside of that organization – who collaborate on achieving the desired end. Of course, much of our work focuses on building “community,” which is defined differently depending on the specific client or project.

Connectivity: Definitions of “connectivity” include “the quality or condition of being connected or connective” and “the ability to make and maintain a connection …”; both of which apply to how I work and what we do at CauseConnect. My work — both as an individual and as part of a collaborative team — involves my ability to get connected to the right people as well as an ability to maintain those connections. My firm’s tagline of doing business by doing good© also keeps us on point by ensuring that we are connected AND aligned with those individuals, companies, nonprofits, agencies and other entities who ARE doing good.


Support Education & Join in the Fun! 2013 Design Challenge

identityMON 6/24 @ 6:30 PM: Support education and have fun! The 2013 Design Challenge at LOT 613 in the Arts District honors David Abel and Peggy Funkhouser, co-founders of Los Angeles Education Partnership (LAEP), a recognized school reform nonprofit and the evening’s beneficiary. Some of the event’s luminaries are locals like Kim Abelesartist and 2013 Guggenheim Fellow and Brigham Yenrealtor & DTLA Rising bloggerMention “Downtown Muse” when ordering your ticket and save $25 off your tax-deductible ticket (normally $125). Produced by local Melissa Richardson Banks of CauseConnect.


KEY TIP: Get It Right! Successful Donor Visits

Key TipFace-to-face visits to donors and prospects can be the most effective way to solicit major gifts, given that the right person from your nonprofit — having done the right research — is asking the right person at the right time for the right amount for the right purpose and for the right reasons. Meeting in person to make the right ask can be an excellent way to generate larger gifts, often resulting in higher percentages of participation than any other solicitation methods can produce.

Help your board, volunteers, and staff members who may be part of your cultivation team organize effective personal visits with your nonprofit’s major gift prospects. Who are your right prospects? Anyone who has the financial ability to give a major gift, along with an interest to make a contribution to your nonprofit, either demonstrated through past gifts of cash, services and/or time to your organization or anticipated based on other indicators.

Here’s how to start:

STEP ONE: Compile a list of your current donors who have given a gift of $125 or more to your nonprofit for the past two consecutive years.
STEP TWO: Eliminate any who do not reside in the area where you plan to make personal visits.
STEP THREE: If your list is longer than expected, increase the minimum gift level to $250 or even $500.
STEP FOUR: Sort your list in descending order, placing those who have given more on top.
STEP FIVE: To determine the number of visits that might be made, multiply the number of people from your organization who will do the visits by five. For example, if you have ten board members, four volunteers and two staff members, your total will be 80.
STEP SIX: Take your total (in our example, 80) and select that same number of prospects from your list. These become your Right Prospects.
STEP SEVEN: For each Right Prospect, find out everything you can about their interests, past philanthropic activities, and viewpoints. It is crucial to anticipate how likely a prospect is to react to a request to increase their support of your nonprofit. Complete a Donor/Prospect Profile by answering the following questions for each:

—In which area(s) of your organization is the prospect interested?
—How strong is that interest, and how has it been demonstrated?
—Does the prospect have an established relationship with someone at your nonprofit? If so, who?
—Does the prospect have a business or social relationship with one or more of your organization’s major donors? Who?
—What are the prospect’s personal interests and avocations?
—Does the prospect have control or influence over philanthropic dollars? Which ones?
—Has the prospect articulated any public stance on issues of concern to your nonprofit? If so, what are they?
—What other organizations has the prospect supported and for how much?

STEP EIGHT: Assemble your cultivation team(s) for each Right Prospect. It might only be a couple of people per team. Each cultivation team should be viewed as a special task force for the cultivation of the Right Prospect, who may be an individual, a couple or even a family.
STEP NINE: Develop and implement a confidential personal strategic plan for the Right Prospect. Monitor progress and modify the plan, as needed.
STEP TEN: Schedule and conduct a visit with the Right Prospect to talk about your nonprofit.

REMEMBER: People give money to people. People do more for those they trust. People give more money to those they trust most. Be sure to build a personal relationship over a period of several months or years before asking and ensure that whoever asks your Right Prospect is someone he or she respects (considered at equal or higher level).

Follow these 10 steps and you should get it right on your next face-to-face visit with a donor or prospect!


Support Education. Join LAEP for its annual Design Challenge on Mon 6/24

Website Graphic-2013 Design Challenge 665x305px

The work of exemplary education reformers Peggy Funkhouser and David Abel will be recognized during the 2013 Design Challenge hosted by the Los Angeles Education Partnership (also known as LAEP) on Monday, June 24. This annual fundraising event will be held at LOT 613, which is located in the Downtown Arts District at 613 Imperial St. (The venue is north of 7th St. on Imperial St. between Mateo St. and Santa Fe Ave.). Proceeds benefit the educational programs and services presented each year by LAEP to over 1,400 LAUSD educators and 60,000 students.

This year’s Design Challenge honors LAEP co-founders, Peggy Funkhouser and David Abel. In 1983, when the book “A Nation at Risk” chronicled the decline of quality public education, David challenged Peggy to do something. The result was the birth of LAEP in 1984 to help reform public schools in Los Angeles. Peggy and David are influential leaders in education reform and public policy who are recognized locally and nationally. Over the decades, in their respective roles, they have maintained LAEP at the cutting edge of school transformation and have assisted other nonprofits by serving as board members, directors and advisors.

During the evening, LAEP will also announce the recipient of the inaugural Helen Bernstein Award for Teacher Leadership presented by the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation. The award will be given annually to an educator in honor of this notable school reform advocate and a past president of United Teachers Los Angeles.

The Design Challenge is a fun and exciting evening. Teams compete against the clock while they use everyday objects and engage the audience to design schools of the future. The activity illustrates the teamwork and creative problem-solving that LAEP employs in transforming public education.



ABOUT DESIGN CHALLENGE: An annual fundraiser for Los Angeles Education Partnership, the Design Challenge is an interactive event in which teams of business leaders, educators, elected officials, celebrities and others engage the audience to design schools of the future. This inventive effort to collaborate and include community is a hallmark of LAEP’s approach to transforming education for students in high-poverty areas of Los Angeles.

ABOUT LAEP: Founded in 1984, Los Angeles Education Partnership produces college- and career-ready graduates through initiatives ranging from birth through high school. Known for proven, effective programs and responsive collaboration, LAEP serves over 60,000 youth and nearly 1,400 educators throughout the region each year. To learn more, visit

SPONSORS (to date): Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation; Nigro Karlin Segal & Feldstein, LLP; Munger, Tolles & Olson, LLP; JPMorgan Chase; WEA (Warner Elektra Atlantic); Target Corporation; FMJ, LLP; Southern California Gas Company, a Sempra Energy utility; American Business Bank; HMC Architects; and Farmers Insurance Group. Individual supporters include Peggy & Bob Funkhouser, Brenda Levin & David Abel, Lynn Alvarez & Steve Nissen, Patrick Atwater, Billie Greer, Jean & David Horwatt, Sandra Rygel, and Ellen Pais & Ed Honowitz.

HONORARY COMMITTEE: Congressman Tony Cárdenas; Congresswoman Judy Chu; Congresswoman Carol Liu; Congresswoman Lucille Roybal-Allard; Congressman Adam Schiff; Senator Kevin de León; Senator Alex Padilla; Senator Curren D. Price, Jr.; Assemblyman Jimmy Gómez; Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer; County Supervisor Gloria Molina; County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas; County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky; City Councilman José Huizar; City Councilwoman Jan Perry; City Councilman Ed P. Reyes; LAUSD Superintendent John E. Deasy; LAUSD Board President Mónica García; LAUSD Board Member Bennett Kayser; LAUSD Board Member Steve Zimmer; Virginia Victorin, Global Philanthropy, JPMorgan Chase; Dwight L. Stuart, Jr., Stuart Foundation Board Chair; Steven D. Lavine, President, CalArts; Steven S. Koblik, President, The Huntington; and Neal Halfon, UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families & Communities.


CauseConnect Produces Benefit Concert featuring pianist Natasha Marin in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall

Cheech Marin announces a performance by his wife Natasha Marin with internationally acclaimed pianist Gerald Robbins in Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall on Thursday, November 8, 2012 @ 8:00 PM. This East Coast premiere showcases works by 19th-century quintessential romantic composers. It opens with Johannes Brahms (Variations on a Theme by Haydn, op. 56b) and Camille Saint-Saëns (Variations on a Theme by Beethoven op. 35), and after intermission, continues with Anton Arensky (Suite Silhouette op. 23) and Sergei Rachmaninoff (Suite No. 2 op. 17).

BUY VIP TICKETS: Each $100 VIP ticket includes a seat in the Orchestra Front section and admittance to a post-concert reception. For each $100 VIP ticket sold, $25 will be donated to Katalyst Foundation for the Arts (or buyer’s designated charity). ALL OTHER TICKETS are available for sale through Carnegie Hall.

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