Session Descriptions

Accessibility in Fundraising: An Equity Issue

Troy Coalman, Director of Donor Impact, Wellspring Family Services

Elizabeth Ralston, Consultant and Founder, Seattle Cultural Accessibility Consortium 


Did you know that one in four people in King County have a disability? Disabilities can be auditory, visual, cognitive, or physical and they can be invisible. There is so much potential to engage this largely untapped donor audience.

Many of these people cannot attend fundraising events in person because of their inaccessibility (lack of accommodations like captioning or interpreters, absence of elevators, difficulty in parking, and more) but with the pandemic forcing a pivot to virtual platforms this past year, there is an opportunity to welcome and include everyone — from the comfort of their own homes.

Fundraisers need to consider accessibility in their budgets, marketing, donor outreach, and in the actual program itself. Accessibility or Access speaks to the DEI issue of “ableism” and should be considered in all  our work as fundraisers. What benefits someone with a disability is often also found to  benefit others in the same target audience. In this session, we will have a practical and applicable conversation about access and fundraising so that fundraisers gather the basic tools necessary to implement equitable and inclusive programs. 

A Legacy with Impact: Applying a Social and Racial Justice Framework to Estate Planning

Elena Pullen-Venema, Director of Gift Planning, Community Foundation of Snohomish County 


What does estate planning have to do with the racial justice movement? Estate planning involves the management, transfer, and use of wealth. As estates have predominantly been owned by white people, estate planning has played a role in the perpetuation of the wealth divide among whites and people of color. During our time together, we will examine how estate planning and charitable giving offers individuals an opportunity to leave impactful legacies to their families and communities for which they will be permanently remembered, and how they can take part in the pursuit of greater equity by applying a social and racial justice framework. 

We will discuss how professional advisors and planned giving professionals can engage clients and donors in conversations about their values, legacy, and philanthropy, especially as they relate to racial and social justice.

For reference and grounding, we will share historical origins and enablers of the racial wealth gap and current indicators of income and wealth inequality. We will also share relevant examples as well as practical tools for starting conversations and providing resources for donors and clients interested in using a social and racial justice framework in their estate and charitable planning and financial investments. 

Assess the Culture of Equity in your Organization

Brenda B. Asare, President and CEO, The Alford Group 

Niquole Esters, Senior Director of Development, Conservation International  

Maria Kolby-Wolfe, President and CEO, Washington Women’s Foundation 


The philanthropic sector must lead the way in creating an equitable world of all people — and it starts from within your own organization. While diversity offers seats at the table to a broader range of  people and ideas, and inclusion ensures that all voices are heard, equity applies a historic lens to assure that everyone is welcomed and receives what they need to thrive. Hear from a panel of organizational leaders who will share what they are doing to strengthen their organization’s culture of equity. 

In this session you will learn what it means for your organization to have a culture of equity, how to create or strengthen your culture of equity, and what specific steps you can take today to improve your organization’s culture of equity.

Dismantling Imposter Syndrome

Tania Bhattacharyya, Lumos Marketing  

Adriana Castellanos, Your Psych Support 


This is not the typical session on overcoming imposter syndrome — we are reframing it in the historical and cultural contexts of the philanthropy field. We need to call imposter syndrome out for what it is: the aggregated impact of a lifetime of both subtle and overt systemic racism, classism,  xenophobia, and other biases to make us feel as though we don’t belong and are therefore, “imposters”.  

People of color often feel that they must always maintain a hyper-professional approach, grow in their career despite the lack of role models who look like them, and more recently, have the onus of responsibility for “fixing racism” in their organization.  

In this presentation, we will question the credibility of the current Eurocentric, masculine, and heteronormative leadership style and introduce a new concept called “lived leadership” (valuing lived experience above all) as the ultimate predictor of competence. The fundraising field will continue to excel as we support professionals who belong to the  community served – with lived experience that mirrors their journeys. We will offer scripts for boundary setting and building agency within an  existing power structure to call out problematic behavior, as well as “imposter syndrome thought” reframes and affirmations.

It Just Didn’t Work Out…

Maya Hemachandra, Chief Development Officer, Treehouse

Tina Kuckkahn, Director of Grantmaking, NDN Collective’s Foundation

Janeka Rector, Assistant Director of Development, College of Engineering, University of Washington

Chris Rhodes, Development Director, RVC Seattle

Javier Womeldorff, Director of Development, Bellevue College 


Fundraisers of color face unique challenges in their work. The field is predominately white, which is also true for Executive Directors, Boards, and the donors they work with. Donor-centered fundraising often asks fundraisers to mold themselves to their donors, but how much adaptability is too much? What happens when it’s not just your donors you’re asked to adapt to, but also your colleagues, supervisors, and decisions made at the highest levels related to vision and mission? 

We’ll explore some of the unique challenges to applying for positions, management dynamics, donor interactions, personal versus organizational values, and more. We invite participants to experience community and alleviate feelings of isolation, as well as to learn how to support the fundraisers of color around them.

The Fundraising Ask — But Make It Community-Centric

Rakhi Agrawal, Development Consultant, The New Philanthropists 

Erika Chen, Erika Chen Consulting 

Rehana Lanewala, Director of Development and Marketing, Launch 

Most of us fundraisers have been taught how to make an ask in a traditional/donor-centric way. We understand that donor-centered practices have been successful in raising needed dollars for our missions, but they also often perpetuate the inequities that we are seeking to address. Donor-centric and community-centric fundraising have opposing-yet-complementary strategies that we need to pursue simultaneously in order to be successful.  

The session will start with a short overview of the Community-Centric Fundraising principles, followed by an activity in which participants explore the various paradoxical challenges that we must confront to succeed. We’ll explore all steps of making the ask the CCF way and touch upon a few different types, including one-on-one donor meetings, appeal emails/letters, and event asks. Toward the end of the session, we will share examples of how to measure the success of a CCF ask (other  than dollars raised) and then will have time for questions and reflections.

We Should Say Something: Showing Up Fully for Racial and Social Justice in Your Organization’s Communications

Katelen Kellogg, Communications and Outreach Manager, Pride Foundation

Hong Chhuor, Plymouth Housing

Over the past few years, heightened momentum around movements for racial and social justice have motivated more individuals and more organizations to speak out against systemic oppression and racially motivated violence—and rightfully so. It can feel difficult for organizational leaders to know when to address broader societal issues internally amongst staff and when to issue a public statement. This is especially true for organizations with missions that are not explicitly centered around racial justice. In this interactive session, we’ll discuss the importance of advancing anti-racism work and how that might look in your communications, and provide some tools and questions for consideration as you do so. Together, we’ll explore our role as fundraisers and storytellers, challenge the norms of donor-centric fundraising efforts in our external communications, and spark conversations that enable us to articulate and deepen our values.