Career Success Institute (CSI) 2015

Save the Date

April 24, 2015
7:45 am to 1:30 pm

The University Center -
Kent State University at Stark
6000 Frank Ave NW
North Canton, OH 44720

CSI: A symposium for nonprofit professionals, board members, and volunteers

AFP Members: $75 | Not-Yet-Members: $120
(lunch included)

Register 4 or more people from the same organization,
and all can attend at the member rate.

Registration Deadline: Thursday, March 13, 2014







BCG & Company

Case Western
Reserve University

Cohen & Company

Glenmoor Country Club

Health Philanthropy
Services Group

Power Media

Streets of Manhattan


AA Executive Catering, Inc./ Executive Event Center

CommonGood Consulting

Dot Org Solutions LLC

Golden Rule Consulting

Jacq Connect

LEAVE A LEGACY® Summit/Portage/Medina

Massillon Plaque Company


7:45 - 8:15

Registration & Continental Breakfast

8:15 - 8:30

Welcoming Remarks

Sandy Turner, President, AFPNCOH

8:30 - 8:50

Scotland Yard Cards at Vendor Tables

8:50 - 9:40

Breakout Session 1

A:  Crafting Your Case for Support
Presented by Tom Ahern, Ahern Donor Communications

  "Why should I give you my hard-earned money?" Answer this question poorly, and fundraising becomes an uphill battle. Answer it well, and you'll never be short of funds. In this revealing session, Tom Ahern, one of North America's most experienced case writers, shares his secrets for selling your projects, programs, endowments, initiatives, buildings, renovations, and bright ideas. This session is custom-designed for those with 3 or less years fundraising experience. You'll learn how to become a star performer in your donor communications work ... to avoid the "curse of knowledge" ... to appreciate why so-called "donor-centricity" raises far more money ... and to have good answers for the donors' "Big 3" questions.

B:  Unraveling the Mystery of Securing “Big Gifts”
Presented by Bill Mountcastle, Health Philanthropy Services Group

  Famous fictitious crime novel detectives like Sherlock Holmes or Miss Jane Marple often had to rely on their powers of deduction, rationalization, and educated thought to solve mysteries. Real-life major gift fundraisers have to do the very same thing. Securing a transformational “big gift” for your non-profit , large or small, requires the powers of deduction, reasoning, negotiation, and validation. This presentation will demystify the process of pursuing “big gifts” and help solve the mystery of how to secure a transformational gift that exceeds the goals of both your organization and your donors. This presentation is geared toward nonprofit professionals with 7 or more years of fundraising experience.

C:  Whose Line is it Anyway? Effective Phone Pitches to Get the Donor Meeting
Presented by Heather Meeker, The Musical Theater Project; Lauren Steiner, Grants Plus; & Dana Textoris, Grants Plus

  Before you can get the gift, you have to get yourself in front of the donor. In this improv style workshop, participants will drive the action as our major gifts experts craft persuasive phone pitches on the spot that get donor meetings. You will learn strategies for overcoming objections from elusive donors and leave with a customized message for successfully setting appointments with your own potential major givers. Some participants will even take home a prize! This session is designed for nonprofit professionals with less than 3 years of experience.

9:40 - 10:00

Scotland Yard Cards at Vendor Tables

10:00 - 10:50

Breakout Session 2

A:  Donor Newsletters that Succeed
Presented by Tom Ahern, Ahern Donor Communications

  Do donors really want a newsletter? "Absolutely," research shows. Yet most donor newsletters are thrown in the rubbish unread. Why? For a handful of common and fatal flaws. Join award-winning journalist Tom Ahern for a fast, in-depth look at the secrets behind staggeringly successful donor newsletters that truly improve income and retention. You'll learn a proven formula for print newsletters and examine the difficulties of getting e-newsletters to work. You'll learn how to craft a powerful headline (and why that matters). You'll even learn how to invent news when you think you have nothing much to say. One hospital that took this workshop increased newsletter-triggered giving 1,000%, to US$50K per issue. Another revised child sponsorship newsletter now raises a half million dollars US annually from fewer than 10,000 donors.

B:  Strategic Planning for Successful Grant Seeking
Presented by Mary Douglas, MS, Akron Children's Hospital

  Learn the processes involved in developing a strategic plan for obtaining grant funding from private, corporate and governmental funding sources, including: identification of funding sources; improving the cultivation process; tailoring the grant solicitation to the funder; and managing stewardship of gifts. The presentation will include stories of both successes and failures experience in grant writing, as well as an overview of the current grant environment. This session is designed for nonprofit professionals with less than 3 years of experience.

C:  Tax Implications and Compliance for Ethical Donor Relations
Presented by Annette Hoelzer, CPA, MT, SS&G, CPAs and Advisers; Tina Holyak, SS&G, CPAs and Advisers; Ellyn Lefko, CPA, SS&G, CPAs and Advisers; & Marie Brilmyer, CPA, M.Acc., SS&G, CPAs and Advisers (Moderator)

  Tax laws for charitable gifts are always changing, and it is your responsibility as an ethical fundraiser to understand what you need to give your donors so that they are not encumbered with unexpected tax penalties. The panel of tax experts will tell you what you need to do when accepting gifts, from individual donors to community foundation and commercial donor-advised funds. They will also discuss how to craft a thank you letter to donors so that they do not incur additional tax liability and how you should properly report financial gifts. Participants will receive samples of compliant gift receipts and other donor communications.

10:50 - 11:10

Scotland Yard Cards at Vendor Tables

11:10 - 11:15

Introduction of Keynote Speaker

11:15 - 12:30

Keynote Speaker: Tom Ahern, Ahern Donor Communications

The Path to Donor Nirvana:
The 6 Sacred Realizations of Donor Communications

  (Cue the soft music.) Realization #1. Your case for support is NOT about your organization’s need for cash. It’s about the savory, enticing opportunity you’ve put in front of the prospect. #2. Every donor communication sends a message. Unfortunately, it’s often the wrong message…. etc. Any charity can profitably follow the Path to Donor Nirvana. An annual appeal from a local library is the same as a $100 million capital campaign in one respect: both need an underlying, donor-centered case for support in order to produce good results. The Six Realizations approach provides a reliable set of guidelines that can help inspire concise, clear, and deeply persuasive communications for your organization.

Tom has agreed to sign any books he has authored.
Click here to see the list from Amazon.

12:30 - 12:45

Prize Drawings & Closing Remarks

Mella A. Castner & Pamela J. Webb, Co-Chairs, Every Member Campaign
Laura Jo Hawk & Kristie Woods, Co-Chairs, CSI

12:45 - 1:30






Tom Ahern is considered one of the world’s top authorities on donor communications. Each year, he delivers dozens of workshops internationally, speaking recently at conferences in New Zealand, the Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, and Italy as well as across North America. He specializes in applying the discoveries of psychology and neuroscience to the day-to-day business of inspiring and retaining donors.

Ahern is the author of four well-received books focusing on effective donor communications:

His recent clients for cases, direct mail, newsletters and training include Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Catholic Relief Services, Save the Children, Princeton University, PBS TV, Sharp HealthCare and other major hospital systems, Volunteers of America, Houston Grand Opera, National Parks Conservation Association, the United Way of Anchorage as well as many smaller and local nonprofits. Visit him at

return to agenda


Marie Brilmyer, CPA, M.Acc., is a director in the assurance services department of SS&G, CPAs and Advisers. With more than 13 years of experience in public accounting and industry, Brilmyer oversees teams in performing audits, reviews, compilations, and other special projects for a variety of businesses. She is experienced with organizations of varying size, corporate structure, and industries, including manufacturing, distribution, service organizations, temporary staffing agencies, health care entities, nonprofit organizations, employee benefit plans, schools, and religious institutions. In addition, Marie is skilled in working with venture capital-funded entities. She focuses her time in working with nonprofit organizations, in particular, providing assurance and consulting services.

Brilmyer earned her Masters of Accounting from The Ohio State University and her bachelor’s degree from Case Western Reserve University. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA), and The Ohio Society of Certified Public Accountants (OSCPA). In 2011, she successfully completed the AICPA’s Leadership Academy and serves on the AICPA’s Women’s Initiatives Executive Committee’s Champions Task Force. In addition, Marie has served on a number of OSCPA committees and task forces and is currently Chair of the CPA Voice Editorial Advisory Committee and the Women’s Initiatives Committee, as well as a member of the OSCPA's Executive Board.

Brilmyer volunteers her time to many Akron-area community organizations and is currently treasurer of GASP, a local nonprofit, an appointed member of the Summit County Consumer Affairs Advisory Board, and a proud graduate of Leadership Akron Class XXIX. In 2013, she was a recipient of the Greater Akron Chamber's 30 for the Future award.

return to agenda


Mary Douglas is the Director of Grants Administration for Akron Children’s Hospital. She has more than 25 years experience in working with nonprofit and public health organizations, both as a paid professional and as a volunteer. Since she joined Akron Children’s Hospital in 2005, the grants team has raised more than $30 million in grant funding in support of the hospital.

Douglas received her bachelor’s degree from Kent State University, and earned her master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse.

return to agenda


Annette Hoelzer, CPA, MT, is a managing director of the Columbus office of SS&G, CPAs and Advisers and a director in the tax department. She has been with SS&G since 1985. She is experienced in tax matters of nonprofit organizations, overseeing professional services, including social service organizations, private and public foundations, private schools, and trade associations. She regularly conducts extensive research on issues affecting nonprofits and frequently writes articles and delivers presentations on various nonprofit topics, such as the advantages of a separate subsidiary, tax issues with charitable contributions, and unrelated business income tax issues. Annette has presented seminars for The Ohio Society of CPAs (OSCPA), Ohio CLE Institute, Columbus Metropolitan Club, and various other organizations.

Hoelzer also specializes in the health care industry, providing an array of professional services, such as tax planning, budgeting, compensation reconciliations, and financial reporting. Annette leads the pharmacy niche for SS&G, servicing more than 200 independent pharmacies throughout the United States.

Hoelzer has a Master of Taxation degree from The Capital University and a bachelor’s degree from Bowling Green State University. She is a member of the OSCPA, American Institute of CPAs, Ohio Pharmacy Association, and the Franklin University Accounting Advisory Board. She was recognized as the 2010 “Credit to the Profession” by Franklin University for her contributions to the accounting industry. Annette is a board member of the American Heart Association and serves as treasurer of the Worthington Civic Band. She has also served on the board of directors of the Health Pro Network, as treasurer of the North Congregational UCC Foundation, and was the past president of the board of directors of FirstLINK (now Hands on Central Ohio).


return to agenda


Tina Holyak is a Senior Associate in the tax department at SS&G's Akron office. She has more than five years of experience in public accounting. Her experience includes preparation of corporations, s-corporations, partnerships and individual tax returns. Holyak specializes in estate, trust & gift and non-profit taxation including charitable remainder and charitable lead trust. During her time in public accounting she has gained experience in working with nonprofit organizations with group exemptions, organizations in bankruptcy, organizations with related entities, and organizations with UBIT.

Holyak is a graduate of The University Akron School of Accountancy.

return to agenda


Ellyn Lefko, CPA, is a manager in the assurance services department. With more than 10 years of experience, she focuses on providing accounting, audit, and advisory services to nonprofits while also providing services to a diverse range of for-profit businesses. Her varied client base includes foundations (private and supporting foundations), schools, membership organizations, manufacturers, service companies, and other nonprofit organizations.

Lefko earned a Bachelor of Science in accounting, and an associate degree in Judaic Studies from Yeshiva University. She is a member of the American Institute of CPAs, the Ohio Society of CPAs, and the New York State Society of Certified Public Accountants. She also serves on the board of directors of Fieldstone Farm Therapeutic Riding Center.

return to agenda


Heather Meeker is the Executive Director of The Musical Theater Project--a Northeast Ohio arts education nonprofit that creates local and national programs celebrating the glorious tradition of the American musical. For nearly 20 years she directed public relations and fundraising efforts for arts, education and cultural nonprofits, including the National Inventors Hall of Fame, Hiram College, Young Audiences of Northeast Ohio and The Repertory Project (now VERB Ballets). She is a graduate of Hiram College, earned her MFA in theater at Virginia Tech, and serves on the adjunct faculty of Hiram’s Professional and Graduate Studies Program.

return to agenda


Bill Mountcastle is the founder and president of Health Philanthropy Services Group LLC, a highly specialized fundraising consulting service that serves academic medical centers, health science colleges, health systems, community hospitals, hospice programs, nursing facilities, and health-related non-profit organizations. Mountcastle has more than two decades of experience in fundraising, rising to senior leadership positions at leading multi-specialty academic medical centers and research universities with sophisticated and successful development programs. He has directed fundraising programs to support capital campaign projects, medical education, patient care, and research activities for main campus hospitals, regional operations, and national and international programs.

A graduate of the Muskingum College (BA) and Cleveland State University, Levin College of Urban Affairs (MPA), Mountcastle has served on the boards of community organizations including, the Center for Community Solutions, Down Syndrome Association of Central Ohio, the Children’s Museum of Cleveland, Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Cleveland Chapter, and Lorain County Habitat for Humanity. Crain’s Cleveland Business magazine named him to its Forty Under 40 list in November 2007 and Inside Business magazine profiled him as a One 2 Watch in April 2003.

return to agenda


Lauren Steiner founded the full-service fundraising firm Grants Plus to benefit organizations through her expertise and enthusiasm for raising money for worthy causes. She has successfully raised grant money for human services agencies, schools, cultural institutions, civic initiatives, and media projects for more than ten years. She has also provided guidance and writing for nonprofit earned-income ventures.

Steiner, an attorney, is an active member of Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and has served on the board of the Greater Cleveland Chapter. She also served as an adjunct instructor at Cleveland State University from 2002 to 2008. In 2007, she was named one of the “Top 25 Under 35” by Inside Business Magazine. She has a B.S. in Telecommunications from Ohio University and a J.D. from Cleveland State University, Cleveland Marshall College of Law. She launched Grants Plus in 2007.

return to agenda


Dana Textoris, Senior Consultant for Grants Plus, has led development initiatives for major institutions, grassroots organizations, and political campaigns in California and Northeast Ohio. A skilled major gifts and grantwriting professional, she built the development program for the California chapter of NARAL Pro-Choice America, recruited investments from leading West Coast philanthropists as Director of Major Gifts for the ACLU of Northern California, and managed a $1 million tribute campaign for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum.

Textoris believes groups of every size can develop the savvy to raise big dollars, and has volunteered as a fundraising mentor for a variety of small organizations. She is active with the Association of Fundraising Professionals Greater Cleveland Chapter, serves on the Board of Directors of the Brews + Prose reading series at Market Garden Brewery, and volunteers with several community groups. She holds a B.A. in Women’s Studies from The Ohio State University.

return to agenda




Breakout Session 2:

Breakout Session 2:

Keynote Session:



Sandy Turner, President -
330-329-2472 • 330-315-0399 Fax •
PO Box 1286, Bath OH 44210

© 2004-2014 Association of Fundraising Professionals
North Central Ohio Chapter.
All rights reserved.

Designed & hosted by Jacq Connect