Carly Samuelson is a fundraising professional with more than twenty years of experience, specializing in digital fundraising strategy, donor stewardship, and donor management. Carly is passionate about leveraging technology to help organizations reach their fundraising goals.

Get to know her in this Q+A!

Zuri Group Team Member Spotlight | Carly Samuelson, Digital Fundraising Consultant

How did you get started in working with nonprofits?
My family has a long history of raising money for charity. Growing up, my father ran marathons with Team In Training for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society to honor the memory of a family friend who had passed away. Fast forward to my first job search after graduating from the University of Maryland; I saw a newspaper ad for a Campaign Assistant needed at Team In Training program. I responded, interviewed, got the job, and the rest is history!

What are some of the organizations that you’ve worked with?
After The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, I continued my career growth with Operation Homefront, The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, American Cancer Society, and Heifer International. I’ve also provided strategy, staffing, and event execution for 100’s of non-profit clients as a consultant for the Austin Marathon’s Austin Gives Miles program.

What do you like most about fundraising?
What I love most about fundraising is the strategy behind encouraging action. Fundraising strategy is like putting together a puzzle, you have to put the right pieces in the correct places to see the whole picture. But before you get to the final product, you have to move pieces around, try them in multiple areas, and sometimes set it aside and come back to it later. Mastering the art of fundraising is very similar, but when placed properly the whole picture comes together in a beautiful way.

What is the most exciting thing/trend in fundraising you’re following right now?
There are three trends I’m following right now – generational giving, virtual events, and recurring giving.

Generational Giving:
As your current donor base ages, the responsibility of funding some of our most important missions will fall on the Millennial and future generations. Organizations who want to be successful in the future are working right now to engage, inspire, and interact with their younger demographics. In my opinion, work being done now will shape a brighter future for your organization and the people you serve.

Virtual Events:
Peer-to-Peer fundraising is undergoing a major shift. More and more, supporters want to do something good for charity without leaving the comfort of their hometown, state, or even country. Virtual events and community walks are becoming increasingly popular and I am watching this trend closely to see if and how it affects some of the largest, most successful, traditional P2P fundraising programs.

Recurring Giving:
Remember those Millennial givers I was talking about earlier? Recurring giving is a great way to engage a younger demographic now. By asking for smaller, more frequent donations, you create a consistent revenue stream for your organization while appreciating, engaging, and creating life-long supporters for your important work. It’s a win-win for everyone and I am enjoying watching this trend grow.

What’s something that nonprofits could do right now to supercharge their peer-to-peer fundraising success?
More personal outreach! In today’s world of fast, automated, and effective communication it’s very easy to become consumed with email and social outreach. The art of picking up the phone, or writing a handwritten note, or even meeting in person is slowly being left behind when it’s one of the things that can actually set you apart in your fundraising strategy.

I believe that a solid stewardship plan for your P2P fundraisers must cast a wider net of communication. Mixing technology, social outreach, and automated emails with the traditional methods of building relationships will deepen the connection to your organization, make your fundraisers feel appreciated, and create a life-long bond with your cause that will continue the giving for years to come.

If you had a magic-eraser that could use to fix a problem that you see in the digital fundraising world – what would you change?
This is a hard question because one size does not fit all when it comes to fundraising technology. Something that works perfectly for one organization could be another’s worst nightmare. From all my years of experience in working with CRM’s and online fundraising sites, the major thing that stands out as important is data collection and accuracy of the data transferred into your database.

My magic eraser would make this process more easy, seamless, and standardized across the industry. It would allow technology to in tandem with fundraisers to get the most important data into a system that will allow it to be used to its highest potential to generate revenue for the causes we care so much about.

Is there anything you’d like to ask nonprofit colleagues?
Now that you’ve heard my magic-eraser answer, I want to hear yours! What’s something that you would like help with on your donation forms, website, or with your peer-to-peer fundraising events? I’d love for you to leave a comment, and I look forward to responding!

Welcome to the Zuri Team, Carly – we’re so glad you’re here!
Thanks for taking some time to get to know me a little better!


Lorealle Bishop is a marketing consultant here at Zuri Group. She understands the impact that messaging can have at every touchpoint of the user journey and helps organizations build a communication strategy that reflects their core values and supports their business goals.

Share This