Claire Axelrad, J.D., CFRE has helped nonprofits raise hundreds of millions over a career inspiring volunteers and professionals to implement innovative fundraising and marketing strategies that advance the mission, vision and values of causes addressing society’s most pressing problems. From the perspective that successfully nurturing and sustaining philanthropy requires a constituent-centered and relationship-focused approach, Claire’s work centers around seven clarifying principles that drive rich supporter engagement.

Known as a “practical visionary,” Claire’s approach is a rare blend of experience-based common sense gleaned from 30 years of senior management in the trenches combined with a singular ability to strategically position organizations to leverage support for today and tomorrow. Her growing concern about the numbers of nonprofits that are stuck – like hamsters on a wheel – in a vicious cycle of implementation having no true direction caused her to found Clairification. Claire’s aim is to help leaders adapt to – and lead – change.

For too many nonprofits something isn’t working. Change is happening at a rapid pace, while people try to employ yesterday’s ‘best practices,’ seeming to work harder and harder to make do with less while needing to serve more. Retrenching during the recession created new efficiencies in some cases; in others it resulted in insufficient infrastructure and staff burnout. The rise of social entrepreneurship and impact investing added to the changing landscape, making donors more interested in understanding the social return on their investment. Her goal is to help nonprofits make the culture shift required to shorten the distance between the present and the future. A culture of leading for transformation, not transaction. A culture of vision, not mission. A culture of passionate philanthropy, not forgettable fundraising.

Claire understands that change is not always easy.  But it’s not impossible. It begins with casting off assumptions and understanding that just because something did/did not work in the past is no blueprint for how it may work today or tomorrow. Leaders must challenge everything, revisiting and clarifying their thinking. Claire believes passionately that if you can articulate your values, tell your stories, elucidate your brand promise, seize opportunities that are offered, strengthen your social channels, become accountable to your constituents, clarify your engagement objectives and measure your progress, you can become a sustainable social benefit organization – one that is helping people be the change they want to see in their communities and the world.

Named Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year by the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Claire contributes regularly to NonprofitPro, and  is a featured expert on Guidestar and Content Marketing Examiner, writes for Maximize Social Business on social media for nonprofits, and is a web and audio presenter for 4GOOD Nonprofit Webinars, Bloomerang, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Network for Good, Nonprofit Radio and TopNonprofits/ThirdSectorToday.  Her blog was named “Top Fundraising Blog” by Fundraising Success and she teaches the CFRE course that certifies professional fundraisers.  A member of the California State Bar and a graduate with honors from Princeton University, Claire currently resides in San Francisco California.

Claire is available for one-to-one coaching (kind of like having your own personal trainer!), speaking, board and staff retreats, consulting and defined projects. For a fuller list of her services and areas of specialization, please click here. To get a glimpse of her approach to philanthropy, not fundraising – and her dream for you – click here. You can also contact Claire to set up a free phone consultation. She wants to help you think big and shine a light on what you do so that you’re no longer a “well kept secret.”


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