An Abundance of Gratitude


Each year, as we prepare to enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday, reflecting upon the gifts present in our lives becomes customary. This time of year provides a special moment of reflection for me, personally, as it coincides with the founding of Dunleavy & Associates.

Throughout the past 15 years, it has been a sincere pleasure to lead and steward the growth and evolution of our firm. I have had the opportunity to hone my superpower for finding great talent; we’ve recruited some of the most talented professionals in the field – women and men with whom I have had the fortune to work and from whom I have learned so much. For each of you, past and present, I am grateful.

I am a big believer in the power of gratitude. I practice it each day, personally and professionally. It has become a daily mantra, waking me up to notice all of the gifts in my life, ever thankful for another day of leading a team that excels at creating sustainable ways to improve the organizations with which we are privileged to collaborate.

We are each stronger due, in large part, to those who are a significant and integral presence in our lives-motivators, teachers, mentors and, most importantly, friends and family. These are the people who provide scaffolding around us in times of triumph, challenge, vulnerability, risk-taking and reward. I am grateful for their honesty, transparency, counsel and the encouragement they provide without hesitation.

As you gather around the table to enjoy a meal this Thursday, take a moment or two (really, as many moments as it takes) to look around at all that is good and brings you joy. THIS, my friends, is what matters most.

On behalf of Dunleavy & Associates, we wish you and all whom you hold dear a very happy Thanksgiving holiday.

In gratitude, 


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What can be done to get our nonprofit board focused on fundraising?

Nancy Dunleavy

By Nancy Dunleavy

In a perfect nonprofit world, all of your board members would be fundraising champions. They’d flip their rolodex from back to front to back again, seeking donations from friends and colleagues, and even reach deep into their own wallets to ensure the financial stability of the organization they’ve committed to support.

While such boardroom all-stars do exist, it’s rare that an organization is fortunate enough to have an entire roster of them. It’s actually a more common problem for a nonprofit to struggle with board members who are disengaged or reluctant to participate in the fundraising process. So what can be done to drum up the support that your nonprofit needs?

Really, it comes down to inspiration trumping hesitation. Many board members are not accustomed to the relationship cultivation and solicitation that is required to land major donations, and are fearful because they don’t know how to do it. It’s the job of a nonprofit’s leadership to work with such board members to help them feel both passionate about the cause and confident in the fundraising process.

Board members will often gravitate toward special-event fundraising such as selling tickets to a cocktail party or a golf outing, because it’s an easy way to solicit support without having to make the case in person. However, leadership should help board members realize that people typically only give major donations to other people, not to paper. Even the most inspiring newsletter can’t match the emotional connection of a face-to-face appeal.

Board members are best equipped to make these appeals when they’re passionate about what they’re “selling.” Leadership should help board members identify which services speak most to them, and make them the heart of each person’s appeal. For example, as chairwoman of the Gwynedd Mercy University Board of Trustees, I have gravitated toward supporting internship programs for students because I believe in the power of real world experience.

The success of these internship programs in helping students to secure jobs, and companies to cultivate promising employees, has given me confidence in asking for donations. It’s much easier for me to solicit donations for the programs when I believe in their purpose and have evidence of their importance.

Leadership can also help assuage the concerns of board members by reassuring them that success rates are higher than they might think. While its unrealistic to expect a 100 percent conversion rate, prospects will more often than not become donors when courted by an honest and enthusiastic board member. Even better, it only takes the landing of one major donor to receive a potentially transformative donation that even the best golf outing could never match.

About the author: Nancy Dunleavy is the President and CEO of Dunleavy & Associates, which she founded in 2001. Chair of Gwynedd Mercy University Board of Trustees, Nancy also serves on the Board of Directors of The Union League of Philadelphia, and is Treasurer of Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board.  She is a popular public speaker and has received numerous accolades for her work and leadership, but most prides herself on being an “extraordinary talent scout” in recruiting phenomenal clients, colleagues, and collaborators.

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Those who wish to learn, teach!


By Patty Poach

Last week we celebrated Teacher Appreciation Week with faculty lunches and recognizing teachers with creative gifts and ideas from Pinterest. This week began with Mother’s Day, a tribute to all moms for everything they do.

When I was seven years old, I wrote in My Book About Me that I wanted to be a mom and a teacher when I grow up. So these recent days of observance got me thinking about how even though my profession is not a school teacher, I am a teacher every day.

Mothers really are our first teachers and I am blessed to be called mom by two amazing girls who provide me with teachable moments throughout every day. My career as a communications and development professional also provides me with the opportunity to teach.

At Dunleavy and Associates, we share our expertise with co-workers, colleagues and clients. We collaborate to help our clients, primarily charitable organizations, achieve their missions and reach their goals. The workplace provides some of the best teaching and coaching opportunities.

We each adopt different roles in our everyday lives, and these numerous roles change in various situations. How many hats do you wear? I am a wife, mother, friend, employee, co-worker, mentor, volunteer and the list goes on. One of the hats I wear proudly is teacher and I believe we all have a role as a teacher in some capacity in our families and workplace, and even with people we don’t know.

I also recently celebrated a birthday, which causes me to pause and reflect on the past year and think ahead to what the next year will bring. I want to be a better teacher and inspire others to achieve their highest potential. We can all make a difference by thinking about our actions and setting a good example. Learning comes from observation, practice, and experience and often mistakes provide an incredible learning opportunity. I truly believe that it is better to give than to receive. What will you teach today with your actions and words? Who will you teach?


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Be Inspired, Pay It Forward, and Inspire Others


by Nancy Dunleavy, Founder, CEO and Chief Talent Scout

published in Philadelphia Business Journal on March 28, 2014

I enjoyed the distinct pleasure of coming face-to-face with inspiration!

Following a presentation by Simon Sinek, author of Start with Why and third most viewed on TED talks, I patiently stood on line to have this leadership expert sign his newest book Leaders Eat Last. I left that encounter feeling inspired—not just from his provocative keynote but, perhaps more so from my interaction with him.

I guess I should not have been surprised that he modeled the behavior that is at the core of his thesis – make people feel good. He was warm and genuine. With smiling eyes he took my outstretched hand and held my gaze while shaking it. He did not exhibit any of the impatience or aloofness that often surrounds celebrity (and, this guy had bona fide “rock-star” status among leadership gurus). Despite the long line behind me he wrote a full sentence in my book, dated it and signed it and shared a laugh with me.

I found the message he wrote to be particularly meaningful as it’s something that guides my own leadership journey. How affirming to have my own mantra memorialized over his autograph.

The message says: “Nancy—Inspire as many people as you can!” –Simon Sinek

I believe that’s what the work of leadership is really all about – bringing out the best in people so that they can also find the path that will inspire them to exclaim, “I love my job!” – and really mean it. Simon Sinek loves his job and I love mine — and now it’s the job of leaders everywhere to inspire those around them. Paying it forward in a way—sharing the enthusiasm contagiously.

Simon says (ha-ha, I just realized the irony of how a children’s game of “doing things” begin with the same two words!), leadership is not a rank it’s a choice. That resonated with me, leaving me feeling extremely grateful that I felt “inspired to choose” that I would spend my morning being inspired by this charismatic leader. Bravo to the Arts and Business Council for hosting this terrific program. #SimonSinekSherpaGuide

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