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Service Corps Spotlight: Fundraising Strategy Doubles Giving for CIELO

Submitted by Nora Tabler, 501 Commons volunteer writer, published 1/26/2022

CIELO is a grassroots organization that promotes community, self-sufficiency, and leadership to Latinos in the South Puget Sound, providing hope to immigrants, educating, empowering and connecting people with the resources they need to create better lives for themselves and achieve their dreams. In early March, CIELO turned to 501 Commons to interview consultants with backgrounds in fund development and strategic planning to help them get ready for the May GiveBIG campaign. They selected Tisha Frank and Wendi Walsh, two dynamic 501 Commons volunteers whose professional backgrounds meshed beautifully with CIELO’s fundraising and strategic planning needs.

The challenge: Develop and execute a strategic fundraising plan with the goal of helping CIELO increase their GiveBIG donations.

During our interview, Tisha shared that as volunteers she and Wendi had substantial support from 501 Commons with access to Zoom trainings and a fundraising workbook with generic templates for nonprofit fundraising. They also had the support of fellow service corps member Ellie Chopp who consulted on the visual aspects of the campaign. Ellie provided her graphic design and marketing skills to create social media posts and videos for CIELO and other GiveBIG Campaign Support clients.

These tools and support were invaluable as Tisha and Wendi worked with the CIELO Development Director who was open to trying new ideas and fundraising techniques. Together the three of them developed a Board “match” for the campaign and a strategic fundraising plan that included:

  • Short and long-term goals
  • Strategies for matches and timelines
  • A social media campaign
  • Messaging for existing and new donors, partners and sponsors
  • A post campaign segmented stewardship plan

Tisha said “Wendi and I worked solely with the Development Director, suggesting weekly tasks to her during our Zoom calls, and she followed up creatively and enthusiastically. This focused our work and helped us stay within our early March through early May consulting contract.” She added that an important piece of the fundraising strategy was involving program staff and clients in creating the campaign content. This gave donors an authentic connection to the mission and gave program staff ownership of the GiveBIG effort.

Result: CIELO raised over $10,000! Their fundraising grew by 92% compared to the 2020 GiveBIG campaign. They also had a 65% increase in donors.

With this kind of success, everyone was happy and Tisha and Wendi were gratified to share their wisdom and skills to help this worthy organization raise more money for their important mission. 

Tisha hopes others will give their time to 501 Commons. She summed it  up by saying “As a volunteer, I liked having the opportunity to "pay it forward", by using lessons learned in my career to mentor a new non-profit leader.”

Are you interested in volunteering to help organizations like CIELO run successful GiveBIG campaigns? Contact Isabel Cunningham at