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Martha Taylor | A career devoted to women’s philanthropy

MarthaMs. Martha A. Taylor

VP of Development, Principal Gifts and Women’s Philanthropy Council at the University of Wisconsin Foundation, since 1975

GREATNESS: an outstanding fundraising professional, pioneer and leader in the international women’s philanthropy movement.


Meet Martha, who I like to call the “mother” of the women’s philanthropy movement in the USA. If you study philanthropy through a female lens like me, you have already heard of Martha and come across her work. She has crafted a stellar career with a life-long focus on fundraising. She wrote her master’s thesis on fundraising in higher education more than 40 years ago. Then she moved up the advancement ranks at the University of Wisconsin Foundation, becoming the first woman vice president of development in the Big Ten.

Martha’s tireless advocacy of women donors and prospects is what caught this prospect researcher’s attention. In 1988, she co-founded the UW Foundation’s Women’s Philanthropy Council, the first women’s major gift program at a co-ed university. It’s a program she leads to this day. Not stopping there, she and Sondra Shaw-Hardy co-founded and co-directed the Women’s Philanthropy Institute, now part of the Indiana University School of Philanthropy, to increase philanthropy by women to all causes. Along with Shaw-Hardy, she wrote the first major book on women’s philanthropy, which won the Grenzebach Research Award from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education. 2015 represents the twentieth anniversary of that important work.

Her numerous accolades, from the Association of Fundraising Professionals to the YWCA, are highly-deserved.

Did I mention she’s an enthusiastic and supportive interview subject? I had a chance to speak with Martha last week, asking her some lofty questions about her interest and motivation in advancing women’s philanthropy.

“Twenty years worth of work in three sound bytes?” she asked as we first started our talk. Still, she didn’t hesitate to offer thoughtful, candid answers with characteristically mid-western graciousness.

On Anonymity

Martha wanted to dive right in to my question about why many women tend to remain anonymous with their major giving. I sent her two recent examples of major alumnae giving to Smith College and Wellesley College – $10M and $50M respectively – where the donors chose not to be named.

“I just found that so interesting,” Martha said.

“The fact they wanted to remain anonymous, doesn’t surprise me. But I still ask – why? That’s the way it is.”

When I asked her whether she thought anonymity is a generational issue, without any hesitation, she said, “No.”

Having worked with many women donors and prospects on their philanthropic planning throughout her career, some have told her:

“Get used to it, Martha, we don’t want to [be named].

“They want to be part of a group. That’s one of the key differences in giving by men versus women. Women respond to peer inclusiveness.

“It’s a big thing for women to pool smaller gifts – collaborative giving and making challenge gifts,” Martha said.

“These gifts are probably from baby boomer women, the age when their philanthropy is coming to fuller fruition. Older [civic generation] women have already made their lead gifts to their colleges.”

[Editor’s Note: must segment latest SYBUNT list by generation, that is if we track this data point in our system.]

On Philanthropic Women

When you manage to get the co-founder of the WPI on the phone, you just let her talk:

“People didn’t think women were making the [giving] decisions in the household, so they weren’t being approached to give. The woman’s interests weren’t being heard [by fundraisers].

“Women were disenfranchised by philanthropy. They weren’t being [exposed]. Women learn about philanthropy by being asked!

“That’s all changing now. We hope,” Martha said.

On Prospect Researching Women

Of course, I asked Martha what tips or advice she had for prospect researchers like me, on identifying and researching women.

First, focus on existing loyal donors:

“Look at women who have given your organization $100 each year for the past twenty years,” she noted.

Also, take a look at women who give to community foundations, since they offer a popular vehicle for philanthropic planning. (Martha currently serves on the Madison Community Foundation’s board and gives to their women’s fund.)

“The best indicators for women’s giving are indicators we don’t track in our databases,” she said, citing the work of her colleague Kathleen Loehr with whom Martha recently co-addressed the Minnesota Planned Giving Council.

“CRM systems are particularly bad for crediting women, recognizing women, tracking women. They’ve gotten worse!” Martha noted.

“Keeping in mind education and zip code [in my case, postal code] are stable…”

Just as Martha was getting ready to list off the top qualitative indicators prospect researchers could look for in identifying women from the database, the phone line dropped.

We got back on track quickly for Martha’s top tips:

  • frequency of worship – actively religious, especially among the baby boomers and older generations, who are prime prospects now.
  • number of children. Some studies have shown that number of children isn’t [a likelihood indicator] for very wealthy families, but it is important to note for upper-middle class donors.
  • source of money. This will help you understand the psychological relationship the woman has with money [and parting with it; giving it away]. Three ways to source money:

Inherit the money | Marry the money | Earn the money, or a combination.

“It’s a very different dynamic with inheritors,” Martha said. “Source of money isn’t something development officers and prospect researchers tend to track in our databases at the moment. These indicators aren’t on prospect radar screens.

“Take a look at the research from the Lilly School of Philanthropy. Then think about what indicators are searchable in our data systems? What do we keep track of? We’re not taking advantage of all this good research out there on women.

“It’s going to be a slow process,” Martha noted.

On Personal Recognition

“Women donors’ biggest pet peeve with non-profits is crediting their gifts. Not public recognition [like a cheque presentation or a donor reception], but personal recognition. Having the CEO and key people in the organization know who they are, value and appreciate them as donors. That’s what they want.

“One of the key ways to show them appreciation is to credit their gifts correctly. Have acknowledgement letters addressed both to them and their men. Solicit women for gifts directly, not all of the time, but some of the time.”

Great advice on research and stewardship from a great woman in our field!








Christina Pulawski | A Leading Prospect Researcher

Ms Christina Ann Pulawski

Director, Prospect Development & Information Strategy, Art Institute of Chicago and Principal, Christina Pulawski Consulting

GREATNESS: An award-winning, versatile researcher and effective leader who keeps it real

IMG_3522This interview constitutes the second half of my conversation with native Chicagoan Christina Pulawski. You’ll find the first half – where I ask her about great researcher traits and leading people – on APRA-Illinois’ blog here.

Who are your mentors?

One of her early mentors was “ridiculously intelligent. She would be terribly interested in whatever I was into at the time, no matter how kooky, and despite generational differences. And it was always sincere,” Christina recalled.

“Curiously, a couple of people I consider mentors now are people I’ve trained. They’re people who are terribly intelligent, innovative. And I got to teach them the ropes. Here are the Legos and levers of research and prospect management and then they took it to a different degree or level. Now, I ask them for advice. It’s awesome to see where they take fundamentals.”

Yours truly was in Chicago last weekend to present on researching women donors and prospects at APRA-Illinois’ fall conference. With women philanthropists and prospect researchers on my mind, I asked her:

What advice to you share with those in our field who want to progress to leadership/management, knowing that you’ve presented on this topic recently to both APRA International and APRA-Canada? Most in our field, according to APRA’s demographic data on our members, are women. Do you have specific advice for women who want to lead?

I had a problem with that one. I grew up in the Seventies and the way to be enlightened in the Seventies was to be completely blind to anything that people might use to differentiate themselves like gender, ethnicity, race, economic strata. Honestly, I’ve seen no reason to change. It’s important to take people one by one, not as groups united by any one thing. I’d more likely consider specific advice if I sensed an individual was an introvert or had a particular type of education or level of experience.

“So any advice I give women to be strong leaders is the same that I would give to men to be strong leaders.

“Is it still a question?” she looked pointedly at me, referencing Dorothy Leigh Sayers who I later had to Google. 🙂

[“Central to Sayers’ thinking is that both men and women are first of all human beings and must be regarded as essentially much more alike than different. We are to be true not so much to our sex as to our humanity. The proper role of both men and women, in Sayers’ view, is to find the work for which they are suited and to do it.” – From]

Christina went on to offer the following gender-neutral advice:

“Over-communicate. Over prepare. And realize that the skills that might have gotten you far as a researcher are frequently diametrically opposed to the skills you need to be a leader or manager. Not all of them, but some of them. Technical skills sometimes hold people back from the skills you need to navigate on behalf of other people.”

“It’s hard to keep your hands off of [research] though,” Christina acknowledged with a small smile.

Then somehow, we meandered into philosophical territory about data-driven fundraising, specifically that donors are human.

“The rise of statistical modeling and data analytics result in a strange dichotomy,” Christina said. “On one hand, the way we relate to individuals in the workplace, is supposed to be egalitarian. Yet, we’re putting more labels and scores and creating more segments than ever existed [on individual prospects].”

Then she motioned her index finger in the air to demonstrate a bulleted list and said in a robotic-like tone:

  • Has more than a college education.
  • Income range = X.
  • Buys these kinds of cars.

“We use that in our work to identify prospects. And obviously the big segments like gender, age, ethnicity – are all the things in the workplace we’re taught not to focus on or use to differentiate employees. Yet the source of good in our work is to label people. We’re labeling them as prospects.

“Maintain sensitivity in your research. Don’t lose that empathy. Your ultimate client is your donor and you can’t forget that your donors are people; although what makes an efficient researcher is to forget that every once in a while.

“There are a thousand different ways to segment them. Philanthropists come in all shapes, sizes and backgrounds. And they behave in very different ways.”

Thank you for your time and your prolific commentary, Christina Pulawski. Follow this prospect research rock star on Twitter @christinaap.

Related Source:

Rory Green, “Four Things from #IFC2015 That Will Help you be a Better Fundraiser” – 101fundraising blog —

Judy Maley | Building diverse non-profit boards in Chicago


Ms Judith (Solomon) Maley

Consultant on Leadership, Philanthropy and Social Enterprise

GREATNESS: Native Chicagoan who connects smart women of all ages to governance roles at non-profits they truly care about; an engaged alumna; and a donor whose giving is now taking shape in a major way

“I don’t know how great I am, but I’m happy to help,” Judy graciously responded to my request for a feature on this blog over LinkedIn. It was the kind of comment that reinforces my quest to profile a genuine, humble (i.e. real!) woman whose good works often go unnoticed in mainstream media.

Judy is a “Chicago person,” coming of age in Hyde Park. She attended Northwestern University to earn her undergraduate degree and Chicago Booth for her MBA (1984), at a time she recalls just 25% of her fellow MBA candidates were female. She credits her breadth of education with increasing her job prospects. After school, she entered corporate marketing. Then, she took time off and had children. It afforded her the opportunity to serve education non-profits that were related to her children, including After School Matters.

When her children grew older, Judy sought to rebuild her network, and “re-establish herself,” by reconnecting with her alma mater networks. Today, she advises on the boards of After School Matters and the Social Enterprise Initiative at Chicago Booth. Her accomplishments in the civic arena and volunteer service are impressively extensive; read more here.

I met Judy last year when she co-delivered a presentation about finding meaningful non-profit board governance opportunities at her alma mater Chicago Booth. She and her colleague Gayle Haller spoke to an audience of Booth women who were early in their careers, looking to enhance their professional development through non-profit board service, doing good in their communities.

Yours truly attended Judy and Gayle’s session as an outsider of Booth, but an insider in the non-profit space. I was curious about what advice Judy and Gayle would offer this community of youthful, ambitious women interested in giving back their time, talent (and possibly treasure). Being a prospect researcher and fundraiser, I’m well-versed in the competing views of staff and board when it comes to fundraising. A board director may tell you fundraising is the sole job of the fundraiser, while a staff member wishes her board would dedicate resources to raising friends and funds in a co-ordinated effort. What do Judy and Gayle have to say about the act of fundraising, I wondered?


I was heartened by their emphasis on determining values and passion first before getting involved with a non-profit. Judy and Gayle asked: What is most meaningful to you?

People or causes? Local or global? Donate time or donate money? Being with friends or being with notables?

“Think about your passions and your values. It’s absolutely essential to be passionate about the board’s mission since you’ll be an ambassador for that organization and help garner support for it,” Judy later said.

When we talked on the phone, I asked her for tips on joining a non-profit board, particularly for those who are further established in our careers.

“You may want to develop different skills than your current [skillset]. Try something new; learn a new skill to stretch yourself.

You don’t have a lot of time to search for a non-profit, so start by networking with friends and colleagues. Ask them about organizations they’ve worked with. They’re your best source.” Pending that, check out the online resources Judy compiled to seek new opportunities (below).


Judy harnessed her formal education to build and re-energize her professional life.

“Coming out of Booth gave me a strong foundation and practical knowledge. My job prospects were much better after graduate school.

The real benefit? The relationships I made there,” she noted. “Some of my ties to Booth colleagues are the strongest ones I have today. Re-connecting with old friends and making new ones [through the SEI) helped me to help Chicago non-profits.”

Judy goes onto to say, “Older relationships are based on an underlying trust – they can be open more easily than new ones. I feel very fortunate to be part of Booth.”

When I asked her why advocating for women is important to her, she explained:

“Advocating for equality – gender equality – is important to me. When many diverse thoughts are involved, more diverse boards make superior decisions. For the advancement of all non-profit boards [appointing more women] is the effective thing to do.”

She coaches clients to secure that coveted board seat. “Women need to self-advocate. I’m here. I’m ready to take this on.”

Confidence and self-advocating is something that often arises in Judy’s conversations with clients and mentees. She pays it forward by recently establishing a speed networking circle at Booth reunions where alumnae of all convocation years come together to share stories and advice about what they know now they wish they knew in business school.


“The givers are the ones who get ahead in life.”

And I had to ask about her views on giving since diverse, engaged, fund-raising board directors are, in turn, a non-profit’s most transformational donors!

She cited the work of Adam Grant, a celebrated Wharton business professor, who wrote the book called Give and Take. “There are givers and there are takers in the world. The givers are the ones who get ahead in life,” she recalled about Dr Grant’s work.

What kind of involvement does she personally require with a non-profit before making an outright gift, I asked.

“Good question! The answer has been evolving for me. Where to give is an important decision. I need to know that my donations are impactful.

When I was younger, I gave small gifts to many organizations. I wasn’t deeply involved with the organizations per se. I gave when friends asked me.

Recently, I’ve been giving more sizeable gifts to fewer organizations. It turns out, I’m involved with each of them. I’m on their board, I volunteer, or I know their board and staff. I attend their events.”

Wise words from a great Chicago woman. Perhaps your next major donor is closer to your organization than you realize?

Relatable Sources

The next Booth Women Connect conference is happening on October 23, 2015. Details

A British non-profit research firm Factary recently studied the number of women serving on UK  foundation boards. Not surprisingly, they note abysmal numbers here.

Want to give back? Here are Judy’s resources for getting started:

LinkedIn Board Connect (“really good”) | | | | |