Strengthening Our Nonprofit Community

Client Highlights

The Room Where It Happens by Mary Moss

November 7th, 2019

If you’ve seen Hamilton, you know that the “Room Where it Happens” means more than just clever lyrics and melody. History is made by having the right people in the room, people whose actions and commitment will change everything. Alexander Hamilton was in the room, and as they say, the rest is history.

Who is in your room? As staff, do you have the right people in your room? As board or committee members, do you have the right volunteers in your room?

This past month has been an extraordinary one for some moss+ross clients. To name only a few:  * SECU Family House and Oak City Cares celebrated successful campaign conclusions * Healing Transitions and Durham Tech met huge milestones in their campaigns * Voices Together hired a Director of Development and Eno River Association hired an Executive Director * Alliance Medical Ministry created a new major gifts effort and Compass Center launched a campaign for domestic violence crisis housing in Orange County * UNC Rams Club launched ForevHer Tar Heels in support of women’s athletics * Beth El Synagogue dedicated its beautifully renovated space * Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church and The Pauli Murray Center launched feasibility studies.

What made all of this happen?  Committed volunteer leaders were in the room.  Recruiting the right volunteer leadership means starting at the top and focusing on who and what you need. As examples, Oak City Cares campaign co-chairs Trish Healy and Charles Meeker selected a team that could bring new vision to services for homelessness. Co-chairs of the ongoing Healing Transitions “Recovery Can’t Wait” campaign Carol and Bob Bilbro lead volunteers who are committed to expanding services for those caught in the spiral of addiction. Charles Helton and Laura Helton Kalorin are leading the charge to serve more patients at Alliance Medical Ministry. At SECU Family House, campaign co-chairs Becky and Bob Woodruff, Maureen O’Connor, and Matt Ewend reached out across the state. Nathan Bearman and Gary Zarkin challenged Beth El’s community with strong support from Rabbi Daniel Greyber. And community leaders Willis Whichard and Lois Deloatch are leading Durham Tech’s effort.

The take-away for those of you reading this: success depends on leadership, the right people in the right room.

  1. Start with the top leadership. Do not settle for less, because the dominoes fall from here.
  2. Define roles, and recruit for that purpose. For a campaign: passion, commitment, and willingness to make time are the answers. For a job search, ask people who know the organization’s needs. For strategic planning, seek knowledge and thinkers. Including people for the wrong reasons, such as financial capacity and political connections, may well backfire if they are not going to feel successful in doing the job.
  3. Orient, train, and evaluate all volunteers. Give them the tools to succeed, and then evaluate them.
  4. Fix what is broken. It may take a while, but fix your committee if it is not working. Do not accept the status quo if it does not have the right people on it.
  5. Manage the team well, appreciate each volunteer. Clear communication with volunteers is crucial for their success and yours. Hundreds of people were touched this month by the celebrations and gatherings of the organizations mentioned here. People may forget exactly what was said or what gifts were listed, but they will never forget how they felt when they were appreciated.  November is the month of thanksgiving, so show those in your “room where it happens” some love.

I am proud to say that at moss+ross we have the right people in our room, and each professional was hand-picked to help you mobilize your team. Let us know how we can help you be successful.

Client Success

January 14th, 2019

Record $2M gift launches AI Program at the NC School of Science and Mathematics 

“A $2 million gift to the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics from alumnus and entrepreneur Carl Ryden ’89 and his wife, Ashley — the largest private gift in the school’s history — will launch a program putting NCSSM on the leading-edge of public schools in America for learning about artificial intelligence and its place in society, NCSSM announced Thursday.”

(click here for the full article)


Thomas F. Looney, Chair of the NCSSM Board of Trustees; Karen LeVert, Chair of the NCSSM Foundation; Carl Ryden; wife Ashley Ryden; NCSSM Chancellor Todd Roberts; and UNC President Margaret Spellings (Photo courtesy of NCSSM)

Take the Bored Out of Board Meetings by Anna White Hosea

January 9th, 2019

Taylor Swift and Michael Scott were deep in conversation. Across the room, Buzz Lightyear and Frida Kahlo were having a spirited debate. Meanwhile, at the front of the room, two 90’s era game show hosts and Big Bird were watching the clock. Three… two… one… Buzzzzzz!

A Halloween party? A new game show on Bravo? No – a custom designed Board retreat for moss+ross client Marbles Kids Museum.

Anna White Hosea, Big Bird, Brooke Jenkins

Marbles is known for emphasizing play, fun and creativity. Mirroring their culture, Partner Mary Moss, Senior Associate Brooke Jenkins and I developed a creative costume/game show themed retreat. In one game, modeled after Family Feud, Board members and Senior Leadership laughed and learned about Marbles signature programs and community impact. During the Amazing [Marbles] Race, teams bonded while racing through the museum dressed in costume. During a “commercial break,” teams wrote and acted out commercials for museum audiences.

We were pleased to see how this “out of their chair” experience engaged everyone. Attendees reported that they felt “refreshed” and “energized,” that they learned more about museum programs, and that they felt inspired to “get under-the-hood of all that Marbles has to offer.” Board members also reported that they felt like they had strengthened their relationships with each other and senior staff.

Lest you think that this could only happen at Marbles, I recently worked with Linda Nunnallee, Executive Director of StepUp Ministry, to develop a “commercial break” for StepUp’s Board. Board members broke out into four groups and were asked to develop a commercial that would appeal to potential participants in StepUp’s employment and life skills programs.

One group wrote a radio ad and performed it so well that we were ready to purchase air time. Another group developed a social media post, hashtags and all, to target teenage participants. As at Marbles, we saw a Board that was turned on, highly engaged, refreshed and energized after their activity.

So, what can you do with your Board to keep them, well, not bored?

  • Know thy culture: Mirroring the culture of your organization is key. Some organizations are willing and able to get a little silly in the interest of board development, while others may need a more tailored approach.
  • Small groups work: Next time you have an issue that needs discussing, put your Board members into small groups. Everyone engages when the table gets smaller.
  • Make connections: Look for opportunities for Board members to engage with each other in ways that are meaningful and go beyond their title and board committee. Building relationships with one another strengthens their relationships with you.
  • Turn on their brains: If you and your staff are doing all the talking, your Board members brains are turned off. The one doing the talking is the one doing the learning. If you need Board members to learn about a new program you are launching, have them develop a skit or commercial to explain it to potential audiences. If you want them to better understand your physical space, send them on a scavenger hunt.
  • Have fun: We all need more play in our lives. Play can reduce stress, stimulate the brain and improve our relationships. Joy, silliness, and fun deserve a seat at the Board table, right next to strategic planning, balance sheets and fundraising plans.

Take a chance in 2019 and add some fun to your next Board meeting. And if you need a play partner, contact moss+ross to start a conversation about how to get your Board to turn-on and tune-in.

Anna White Hosea is an Associate with moss+ross. She is currently serving as the interim Director of Development for StepUp Ministry in Raleigh, NC.


Anna White Hosea is an Associate with moss+ross.

Our Role in the UNC Campaign

October 30th, 2018

by Susan Ross, Partner

Our region of North Carolina is filled with top-rated colleges and universities, all of which set high bars for development excellence.

Over the past eight years, moss+ross has worked on more than 20 engagements with UNC Chapel Hill and its various schools and programs.  We are particularly proud to be one of two named consulting partners for the $4.25 billion For All Kind campaign. Launched just over a year ago, the campaign has reached $2.3 billion in commitments.

moss+ross clients have included some of the biggest efforts on campus: the $1 billion UNC Medicine campaign, a $500 million Rams Club campaign, $400 million for the Kenan-Flagler Business School, and a $300 million focus for UNC Global.

We are also involved with schools and programs whose eight-figure goals present equally daunting challenges, such as the School of Law, the School of Media and Journalism, the School of Social Work, and The Graduate School (see complete list below).

Vice Chancellor David Routh has led a huge ramp-up in the Advancement Office at Carolina since his arrival. He and Associate Vice Chancellor Cynthia Butler have accompanied increased expectations with new funding for additional development staff, professional training, and improved infrastructure support.

Our knowledge of this fundraising environment and familiarity with the donor base and UNC team have been important differentiators, enabling moss+ross to provide the “local architect” services that have been needed across campus. Our partners and associates have the experience and credentials to take on anything, but we are also nimble enough and close enough to jump in where and when we are needed.

“moss+ross has delivered on its promise to provide tailored strategic counsel to many of our schools and units. Their deep bench of talented associates has helped us with campaign strategy and fundraising plans, strategic planning, and interim staffing. Mary and Susan have a deep understanding of our university and minds that are helping us achieve our vision.”
— David Routh, Vice Chancellor for University Development, UNC


UNC Client List (past and present)

University Development
The Rams Club
Kenan-Flagler Business School
Morehead Planetarium and Science Center
School of Education
School of Law
School of Media and Journalism
School of Social Work
Gillings School of Global Public Health
Eshelman School of Pharmacy
The Graduate School
Institute for the Arts & Humanities
Institute for the Environment
Kenan-Flagler Institute for Private Capital
Kenan Institute for Private Enterprise
Office of Undergraduate Admissions and Financial Aid
School of Nursing
UNC Children’s Hospital
UNC Global
University Libraries
UNC Medicine


Salute to the Helpers

September 21st, 2018

moss+ross is proud to work with nonprofit partners who are on the ground in Florence’s wake.

Our work with clients in the nonprofit sector inspires us every day, and never more so than in the past week as Hurricane Florence has affected our region. We appreciate the expertise and dedication of the agencies involved in relief efforts, and the compassion and caring of the staff and volunteers who step up in times of need.  As Mr. Rogers said, when you see scary things in the news, look for the helpers.

This special post highlights a few of our current clients who serve multiple counties in Eastern NC and are on the front lines of relief and support. We know many of our clients are marshalling resources, setting up collections and planning ways to provide ongoing support to the long term needs of recovery. We’ve seen the impact this past week – major events cancelled, services rerouted and volunteers deployed. We salute you all, and stand ready to help where we can.

Relief Efforts by Current Clients Serving Eastern NC

  1. The Episcopal Farmworker Ministry serves migrant and seasonal farmworkers in Eastern NC farm communities that have been heavily impacted by the storm. See the news article below for more details about their work and information about getting involved in their relief efforts.
  2. Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Raleigh provides services in the 54 most eastern counties in North Carolina, and serves people of all faiths or no faith tradition. They are working with families affected by the storm to meet their immediate needs and help them recover and rebuild their lives. See Catholic Charities Disaster Relief Services for information on how to help.
  3. SECU Family House at UNC Hospitals serves patients and families from throughout the state, with most guests coming from areas affected by the storm, as shown in this impact map. This client is serving families experiencing storm recovery on top of their serious illness, and support for their mission supports families throughout NC.
Our firm has made donations to these causes, and we know many other clients, particularly those in humanitarian and faith organizations, are coordinating collections, volunteers and fundraising efforts. We encourage you to support them in any way you can.
Recovery and Support for Eastern NC Farmworkers
by Lisa D’Amico, moss+ross interim solutions affiliate
On a typical day, the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry visits a number of camps in Eastern North Carolina where migrant farmworkers live and work harvesting crops and tobacco. Usually, the Ministry provides support in the form of clean clothing (free of pesticide exposure), heavy duty work gloves (to prevent Nicotine Sickness), and water bags to those too far in the field to access water. They provide ESL classes, immigration services, hold a Sunday worship service for the farmworker community, and much more.

But these aren’t typical days. Hurricane Florence has been here with her unprecedented amount of rainfall and flooding. The areas in Eastern North Carolina served by the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry were hit hardest and are surrounded by local rivers, now overflowing their banks.  The focus of the Ministry these days is that of recovery and support. Some camps are flooded and workers are stranded without food until the water subsides. Many workers are in shelters where they need food, water and sanitation supplies.

Residents in the area need direction and assistance with finding resources or applying for federal assistance (if they are legal residents), and the Ministry is helping to provide that information and support. The Executive Director is working to secure funding so the Ministry can not only assist in this disaster relief but also support its ongoing mission of ‘Serving Christ in the fields, on the farm, and at home.’

As the days and weeks go on and the area starts to recover from this devastating storm, the Ministry will go back to its usual day job – that of providing direct services to the farmworkers who help put the food on our tables.

If you would like to help this great work continue, please click on the donate button or send a check to the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry, P.O. Box 160, Newton Grove, NC 28366. If you would like to volunteer, please contact Lariza Garzon at Your donations are so appreciated year-round as the Ministry supports the farmworkers, but especially now! Thank you!

Three Steps to Great Messaging

February 13th, 2017

Three steps to great messaging shared by Senior Associate Jeanne Murray.

Your organization communicates purpose and inspires support through your messaging. While a good starting point is crafting a great mission statement, the day-in/day-out communication of your organization’s message doesn’t end with a declaration of mission. Continual messaging conveys the impact, energy, and needs of your organization – and, importantly, supports your development efforts.

How do you know good messaging from the kind that needs improvement? Good messaging communicates value, encourages consistency, and identifies clear action.
jeanne murray writes about messaging

Good messaging communicates value. Messaging that communicates value is less about what you do, and more about what gets done with donor support. Words and images that bring impact to life tell donors that your organization is a worthy investment of time, money, and attention. Do your communications identify a donor’s role in achieving the mission? For example, I’m on the board of a Durham nonprofit whose mission clearly states the role the community plays in achieving the mission:

Families Moving Forward offers a temporary home to families with children in the crisis of homelessness. Working together, we create a path to stability and self-sufficiency through personalized services and ongoing community support.

Many organizations rely heavily on the written word to communicate value, and consider visuals as support for a story. Be more intentional about telling your story by showing interaction, engagement, and impact through photos, graphics, video, and other visual imagery.

Good messaging encourages consistency. Can everyone involved with your organization tell a consistent story? Note that this isn’t the same as a one-size-fits-all story. Good messaging tells stories of your mission in ways that a target audience can best hear them. For one of our clients at UNC Chapel Hill, moss+ross led a workshop to develop audience segments and associated personas, and identify how the core mission of service and opportunity could play out differently depending who is listening: a longtime supporter, an out-of-state family, or a group with a particular scholarly interest. Target your messaging to the intended audiences, and help people make your stories their own.

Good messaging identifies action. Your great mission and message should compel donors to ask, “How can I help?” Good messaging places action into the target audience’s hands. The action that all organizations want and need to promote – “to give” – is of great importance, of course! But many other actions lead to engagement that leads to giving. We recently worked with a community outreach ministry in Raleigh to incorporate more concrete calls to action. Many of their communications were geared to learning about the organization, and, while valid, this purpose can be offered in combination with more tangible actions. For example, “learn and sign up for the e-newsletter,” or “learn and respond to a survey,” or “learn and volunteer.”  Evaluate your communications to determine whether the messages include clear calls to action.

Your ultimate goal is to enlist help in spreading your message – from your board, volunteers, staff, and donors. Consistent messaging about value and action will equip all involved to share the news.


Annual Planning: The Importance of Creating an Annual Development Plan

December 12th, 2016

Annual Planning: The Importance of Creating an Annual Development Plan

“If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else.” Wise words from Yogi Berra that remind us good planning is essential to success on many levels, and in the case of fundraising, can be critical to your organization’s long-term sustainability.

Why? Because good development planning will not only help sustain your mission, but it’s also a proven tool for growing and transforming your organization.

Kim Glenn

Kim Glenn, Senior Associate

Development planning starts with an understanding of where your organization wants to go and setting annual fundraising goals that will help get you there. Adding stretch goals that go above and beyond your annual funding needs is important, especially when your Executive Director or Board has plans to expand the organization’s impact. If you’ve ever heard discussion about the need to increase the number of clients served, add new programs, or expand in new geographic locations, you can bet that more fundraising dollars will be needed.

Whether you are a small one-person development operation, or part of a team of seasoned fundraisers, creating a written annual development plan gives you and others in your organization a blueprint for achieving fiscal-year fundraising and engagement goals – much like a strategic plan creates a blueprint for achieving your mission. An added benefit is that it creates a shared culture of philanthropy and accountability: everyone understands who is doing what, why, and when.  This is especially important when meeting your goals requires a team approach.

A written development plan can be in the form of a narrative document or a spreadsheet, but it should always include the organization’s funding priorities, dollar and donor goals along with specific fundraising strategies, who is responsible, and measurements for success.  Organizing by quarters over a 12-month period will help you work your plan in stages and ensure a manageable workload.

The Rams Club at UNC, a moss+ross client, has taken this strategy to heart.  Each major gift officer has created a written development plan which focuses on the top prospects to be solicited each quarter and includes interest areas, written strategies, anticipated asks, and projected dollars to be raised. It also includes plans for cultivation and engagement of future donors. When individual fundraisers set goals, their projections can help fundraising managers with quarterly benchmarking. This type of planning empowers team members and creates momentum and urgency, and it’s what helped The Rams Club achieve a record-breaking 2016 fundraising year.

Remember that the best development plans are fluid and can be reviewed and adjusted through regular check-ins with your Executive Director, other team members, and your Development Committee.  Don’t have a Development Committee yet? Be sure to add creating one to your new written plan.…

~Kim Glenn, Senior Associate

Does everyone agree the timing is right for a campaign?

October 27th, 2016

Faced with an historic building in need of crucial maintenance, Duke Memorial United Methodist Church followed our favorite piece of advice when it used its strategic plan as the foundation for campaign planning. In launching a needs-based campaign, the first step was hiring moss+ross to conduct a feasibility study to understand how best to approach the maintenance needs and other possible campaign elements.


moss+ross Associate Erica Hill

Through personal interviews and online surveys, moss+ross was able to vet proposed campaign priorities and get a clear picture of what the congregation wanted to fund and how much could be raised. Armed with this data, the organization’s staff and volunteer leaders were able to move forward with a campaign knowing that the priorities and goal were the right ones.

Open Doors

October 25th, 2016

by Mary Moss

Walking up to the new Holy Name of Jesus Cathedral (Catholic Diocese of Raleigh) dedication on July 26th, I was humbled and reflective. How had it come to be that I could cross the transom of those beautiful doors on this special day?  A Ravenscroft parent and Cathedral leader remembered me from earlier days and thought our firm could help them complete their fundraising.  And, that we did, helping them toward a $46 million final result.  We met with the Bishop and his team regularly as we helped chart a path of success for them during the last years of their campaign.  On that July day, I was in awe of this gorgeous addition to our community which will support the growing Catholic population in this Diocese, and moss+ross was honored to have been their fundraising partner.

Similarly, at SECU Family House in Chapel Hill, where moss+ross has been engaged for years, I harken back to the first time I walked through their welcoming front doors where patients and their families find comfort and seek respite as they seek world-class healthcare at UNC Hospitals.  Once again, earlier relationships propelled someone to pick up the phone and call me. Since then, we have provided interim staffing in communications and fundraising, search services for the Executive Director, staff coaching, two feasibility studies, and campaign counsel. When they went public with their $8 million campaign on September 29th to double the size of the House, our moss+ross team proudly sponsored a table and toasted to the day more families will be served.

UNC Chapel Hill is no different. As alumni, Susan and I are honored to have been engaged by University Development and 21 schools and units.  Many years ago, a door opened to us through a prior connection, and since then we have been involved across campus with planning and goal setting for the $4.25 billion capital campaign which went public on October 6th.

As consultants, when the phone rings about new business, it is almost entirely due to our community connections, either directly or indirectly through our personal and professional networks.  Within our tapestry of relationships, we meet new friends and are inspired to answer new community needs, not just through Susan and me but with our 18 associates, who also open doors around the Triangle.

At the end of each engagement, it is not about what happened when we walked through the doors, but how we have empowered our clients when we walk out again.  We have helped approximately 140 clients since our founding, most of whom hire us multiple times.  We believe that means we have left them stronger than when we arrived, which is our goal.  We love walking through the same doors over and over again.

Our doors are open to you.  If you are seeking expert counsel, contact us and we will see how our firm can help you achieve your goals.  This community is our canvas, and we are continuing to paint a brighter future for the nonprofits in our region.

From the Front Lines

August 26th, 2016

moss+ross helps clients plan and run campaigns of varying sizes and purposes, from under $1 million to $400 million. We asked two of our clients to talk about the benefits of working with us at various stages in their campaign planning and execution. 

The Rams Club at UNC has a long history of great fundraising, but a big campaign creates the opportunity to look creatively at complex messaging and funding structures as well as develop strategic funding goals. Executive Director John Montgomery reached out to moss+ross for involvement at multiple levels, and had this to say in response to the following question:

What did you find helpful about working with moss+ross on campaign readiness?

“We have just finished our second campaign planning retreat with Mary, Susan and Kim and they have provided our organization with an excellent roadmap for success. I think our campaign goal-setting session was the most impactful on our team. moss+ross raised our sights and challenged our fundraisers to think differently and embrace ambitious goals. This is exactly what our organization needed in order to be successful and achieve our goals in the upcoming campaign.”

(moss+ross is proud to work with The Rams Club — they’ve had a record-breaking year, too!)

Families Moving Forward recently completed a successful $650,000 campaign for facilities renovation following the merger of Genesis Home and the Durham Interfaith Hospitality Network. Campaign Co-Chair John Bowman shared his thoughts when asked the following question:

What was the value added of having a consulting firm involved?

“I’ve had the pleasure of working with moss+ross on several occasions. Most recently with our “Under One Roof” Campaign, Susan Ross and Brooke Jenkins assisted us, and their insight, support and staffing were essential to our success. More specifically, their knowledge of the community and key contacts in the area, combined with thoughtful suggestions about ‘the ask,’ were invaluable to the Campaign.”

More about campaign readiness and management with moss+ross and the clients we have served