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What We Do

CommonWealth has a distinctive competence as fundraising counsel for nonprofit organizations in planned and major gifts, institutional planning and team building.  We develop customized plans based on where you are now and where you want to be in two years.  CommonWealth plans always include securing major gifts of cash as well as gifts from wills and other vehicles for charitable estate plans.


Speaking with a supportive group of volunteers at the Kansas City Jewish Community Foundation.

The process of developing a Planned/Major Gifts Program and/or Capital Campaign may include the following components:

  1. Developmental Audit. The developmental audit presents a picture of the organization's current development program. It includes an analysis of the structure, operation and logistical strength of the development function.

  2. Written Planned and Major Gifts Strategy. The design of the Planned and Major Gifts Program includes information obtained from the Developmental Audit. The final strategy will include policies and procedures and a step-by-step implementation approach.

  3. Development of Philanthropic Planning Team. COMMONWEALTH works with you to develop a team of distinguished financial and legal professionals from your community dedicated to your organization who are willing to donate their services in continuing your philanthropic efforts.

  4. Case Statement. Although COMMONWEALTH does not write your case statement for you, we work with your philanthropic planning team and development personnel as they produce this marketing tool which is used with planned and major gift prospects.

  5. Prospect Development. Identifying a select population to be specially informed, motivated and presented with planned gift opportunities takes special expertise. COMMONWEALTH will be the catalyst to ensure consistent, personal association with your donors and planned gift prospects in their own environment.

  6. Team Building. COMMONWEALTH will develop your expertise in these areas and also train your volunteers.

  7. Monitoring. COMMONWEALTH nurtures and encourages all of the members of your team to complete their assigned tasks. This method of accountability is vital to the success of your fundraising efforts.

In addition, COMMONWEALTH performs:

  • Directional Studies (sometimes called “Feasibility Studies) for major campaigns

  • Comprehensive Developmental Audits

  • Counsel on developing a private or family foundation.

Jim Gillespie, CFRE and president of COMMONWEALTH, is an accomplished and compelling national speaker on a variety of philanthropic topics. He uses humor as he has spoken to over 1,000 groups of charitable volunteers and professional fundraising executives, conducting seminars and retreats which range in length from 2 hours to two days. Jim is a lead faculty member of The Fund Raising School, a unit of Indiana University's Center on Philanthropy. He has presented often at the national conferences of AFP and PPP. He makes regular presentations to governing boards, professional advisors and prospective donors.

Seminars on these and many other topics are available through the COMMONWEALTH office:

  • Gee Whiz! What Am I Gonna' Say? Negotiating Planned and Major Gifts

  • So You Want To Start An Endowment ... What Now?

  • The Donor Advocate: Whose Side Is That Manager/Fund Raiser On?

  • The Process Of Asking For A Gift

  • Finding Time – How To Get Things Done

  • Write Your Business Plan – Developing Measurable Objectives

  • Getting Appointments – Eliminating The 5,000 Pound Telephone Syndrome

  • Who Controls Your Donor's Social Capital? (A Marketing Concept)

  • Boot Camp For Planned Giving

  • Charitable Gift Annuities - A Case Study And Application Approach

  • Implementing And Marketing Planned Giving Programs

  • Tools For Building Successful Endowment Funds

  • How To Select And Work With Consultants

  • How Planned Giving Dovetails With Your Development Program

  • In The Spirit Of Community; A Discussion On Charitable Planning

  • The Wise Art Of Governing; Personal Commitment To A Spiritual Leadership Style (Board Retreat)

CommonWealth subscribes to the Code of Ethics of the the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning (PPP), and maintains affiliations with the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and the Partnership for Philanthropic Planning (PPP).




Strategies for Success

Best to Do Fewer Fund Raisers and Do them Well

Most fundraising companies who work with organizations to raise money agree that, with fundraising, less can be more. You should do only a few fundraisers each year but, importantly, to do them well.

Not only should you be watchful of their own fundraising efforts, it is good practice to know what other groups in the area are doing to raise money.




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