Connecting People who Care with Causes that Matter

Welcome to our New Nonprofit Academy!

We’re excited to announce that we’ve re-branded our education events and have created our own Nonprofit Academy! Every year we’ll kick off the year’s education events with our Nonprofit Academy: Starting Point – a half-day of learning and networking for nonprofits. Our inagural Starting Point was held on January 30, 2020.

Starting Point Schedule:

7:30-9 a.m.  — Continental breakfast and networking

9 – 11:45 a.m.  — Breakout Sessions

Noon- 1:30 p.m.  — Luncheon and keynote speaker Milton Little, CEO of United Way of Greater Atlanta 

Milton Little became the first African-American president of United Way of Greater Atlanta, the second-largest in the national system, in July 2007. Altogether, Little has helped raise more than a billion dollars for local community needs and priorities. Before joining United Way, he served as chief operating officer and interim president and CEO of the National Urban League.

Speaker Presentations


Click here to access slides

2020 Starting Point Tracks


Presenters: Scott Sikes and Wes Wicker of Columns Fundraising

Session 1: Fundraising Interpersonal Dynamics

Description: How to get appointments & what to do on your appointments

Whether you are prospecting, soliciting, or stewarding individuals, couples, foundations, or corporations, you first must get an appointment and complete it.  You’ll learn how to increase your success rate at getting appointments and how to exit the appointments with more of your mission accomplished.

Session 2: Moving Up To Major & Planned Gift Fundraising

Description: How to ask for asset wealth versus income wealth

To “move the needle” on your fundraising speedometer, you must raise gifts much larger than your regular annual gifts.  Following up the first fundraising session of the day, you’ll learn more about stock gifts, real estate/real property gifts, and tangible personal property gifts.  We’ll also talk about the easiest and most popular planned giving techniques: bequests in wills and gifts of percentages of retirement plans.

Session 3: The Intersection of Special Events, Social Media & Major Gift Fundraising

Description: How to utilize various tools in your toolbox to move towards Major Gifts

Following up on the second session of the day, now you’ll learn surprising national statistics and local-area fundraising facts about when special events were–and weren’t–used to good effect and how to allocate the appropriate amount of resources to social media as you lead your organization towards more Major & Planned Gifts fundraising.

Register now! Click here!

Leadership Development

Presenter: Dr. John Green

Session 1: TRUST – the foundation of true leadership

Description: This is the first of a three-part series but is not a pre-requisite for sessions two and three. Participants will explore personal experiences of high trust environments and reflect on the impact at various levels.

Specific strategies on how to build trust will also be discussed as well as critical conversations accelerate the process.

Session 2: TEAMS – the accelerator or barrier to great performance

Description: The importance of “paired relationships,” “prioritization,” “intentional improvement,” and “socially aware communication” will be key topics for this session.

Session 3: TRADITION – leading change and culture to sustain success

Description: Examine how “people, processes and technology” impacts the culture of your organization. Reflect on how the traditions you design ultimately effect your long term success. Confirm that “why?” may be the most important question that is continually asked.

Register now! Click here!



Session 1: It’s time to AMP Up Your Marketing Plans for 2020

Presenter: Amanda Sutt, Rock, Paper, Scissors

Description: Do you hope to plan your marketing efforts in advance but find yourself putting it off until you’re scrambling to get the next campaign off the ground? We know planning ahead can be quite the challenge, so that’s why we’ve created an Annual Marketing Plan workshop. We are here to help you set goals for the year ahead and establish best practices for building a marketing plan that is realistic and manageable, as well as how to track your campaigns so you know you’re on target.

Session 2: What’s Your Story?

Presenter: Heather Loveridge, Magnolia Media Group

Description: What you do matters, but does the world know about it? Take it a step back – do your donors, volunteers, staff and clients even know your story? Do they really understand your brand? In this session we’ll break down why storytelling is vital to nonprofits, what makes a great story, how to create your brand story and where (and how) to share your story.

Session 3: The Insider’s Scoop from Facebook

Presenter: Nina McCallie, Facebook Atlanta

Description:  Facebook and Instagram can be powerful tools for nonprofits, but how do you strategically share your story on those platforms? What are some best practices for fundraising and advertising? Get the inside scoop from Facebook itself as Nina McCallie from the Atlanta office shares valuable information.

Register now! Click here!


Business Operations

Presenters: Steve Kosmala, Warren McClellan, Greg Whitlock

Session 1: Formation and Preservation

Description: Delve into the “Back room” operations of your nonprofit:  Proper formation, governance, financial management, as well as statutory and regulatory compliance with the state and IRS!!  What are the risks to you and the organization of fiduciary failure?  Are you preserving, even improving, the organization on your watch?

Session 2: Controls Topic

Description: “That’s how we have always done it!” might be the path to lack of control, failure to delegate, lack of audit oversight, fraud or even the end of the “Mission”!  When you took that board or leadership role, did you know what you didn’t know?  Find out now!

Session 3: Risk Management: It Matters for Non-Profits!

Description: What does “Risk Management” mean?  And, how is it relevant to non-profits?  Can’t I just buy the standard protection package? Find out how many ways a Risk Management assessment can matter to your organization!

Register now! Click here!



Relationship Development

Presenter: Kevin Monroe

Session 1: How SMART nonprofits accomplish more and how you can too

Description: Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could launch, lift, or accelerate your volunteer program to the new heights in 2020? You can and you already have what you need to do it. Join us for a lively conversation to help you catch a fresh vision and map your way forward. 

Session 2: The Secret to High-Performing Boards: What if It’s not what you think it is?

Description: To paraphrase Tolstoy, “All happy boards are alike, each unhappy board is unhappy in its own way.” In this session, we’ll dig deep on one ingredient that attracts great board members and propels them to high levels of missional advancement. 

Session 3: If you think it’s about money…you’re wrong and here’s why

Description: So much has changed and continues to change in the world of philanthropy and development. However, one thing…the “thing” that matters most is still the same, but it’s often overlooked. What is the ONE thing you can do that will multiply everything else you are doing and garner more resources for your mission. Join us to find out. 

Register now! Click here!


Our Speakers

Scott Sikes, Wes Wicker

Columns Fundraising

Scott Henderson Sikes, MBA, CFRE, FAHP, CFP is a co-founder of Columns Fundraising, a national, full-service, nonprofit strategic planning, interim staffing, executive search, and fundraising consulting firm. Before co-founding Columns and acquiring Palmetto Grants Consulting, he was a co-founder and later president of the Georgia Planned Giving Council, a co-founder and later president of the Athens Area Estate Planning Network, an over 20-year member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, elected chairman of the University System of Georgia’s Vice Presidents for Advancement, VP for Advancement at Valdosta State University, and Interim Executive Director of Development at the University of Georgia.

Wes Wicker is a partner and principal of Columns Fundraising, LLC. Wes counts more than thirty years of experience in higher education and development. Wicker served as Vice President of Advancement at Kennesaw State University for ten years, and as Executive Director of the KSU Foundation. Prior to Kennesaw, Wicker served as Vice President of Major Gifts for United Way of Metro Atlanta, and held a similar position with United Way of Central Indiana (Indianapolis). He began his career in Admissions, and then in Alumni Affairs at Georgia Southwestern State University. He also worked as a Research Assistant while in graduate school at the Institute of Higher Education at the University of Georgia.

John Green

Dr. John Green has over 35 years of experience as a teacher, coach, principal, district administrator, adjunct professor, school superintendent and university director. He holds an Ed.D in Educational Administration from the University of Georgia, MEd. in Mathematics Education from Georgia State University and a B.S. in Mathematics Education from University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Dr. Green recently served as Regional Director of the Education Collaborative at the University of West Georgia. In this role, he supported the design and implementation of P-20 educational partnerships for the University working directly with West Georgia Technical College, K-12 systems and community stakeholders in the west Georgia region. He currently participates in a national network facilitated by Johns Hopkins University focused on improving “pathways for adult success.” Dr. Green has designed and implemented cross sector/cross entity networks to facilitate collective efforts in several communities in Georgia and the southeast.

Amanda Sutt

Rock, Paper, Scissors

Amanda Sutt is the CEO and Creative Director at Rock Paper Scissors. She joined the company in 2005 after graduating magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from Appalachian State University. Amanda began as a Project Manager and quickly moved up the ranks, becoming an integral part of the RPS team. Prior to assuming the role of CEO and Creative Director, Amanda held the role of Account Executive and Art Director. In her current position, Amanda oversees the vision and direction of the company, as well as working with her team to develop brands that connect with their clients’ audiences and marketing solutions that help their clients grow their businesses.

Heather Loveridge

Magnolia Media Group

As the founder of Magnolia Media Group, Heather Loveridge enjoys providing clients with marketing services that help them tell their story well.  She and her team work with a variety of nonprofits throughout Gwinnett and beyond and understand the unique challenges facing nonprofits. Heather has a bachelor’s in commercial writing and started her career in Gwinnett. Over the years she’s helped nonprofits tell theirstory, built a marketing company, written for a number of magazines, managed editorial teams, produced everything from ad copy to cover
stories, and more.

Nina McCallie

Facebook Atlanta

Nina is a Georgia native and following her time at the University of Georgia’s Terry College of Business joined Facebook in Austin, Texas to work as an Account Manager and help e-Commerce businesses across the United States grow their presence on Facebook and Instagram. In 2019 Nina moved back to Georgia to join the Atlanta Facebook team as a Client Solutions Manager on the restaurant vertical where she now advises some of the country’s largest restaurant brands on their digital marketing strategy across the Facebook and Instagram platforms. She has a huge passion for consulting with nonprofits on their digital marketing and communication efforts and is always looking to help organizations grow their impact through leveraging all the Facebook apps and services.

Steve Kosmala, Warren McClellan

Excelsior Insights

Steve received his Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Management from the Georgia Institute of Technology and his Masters of Business Administration degree from Mercer University with a concentration in taxation and strategic management.   He has over thirty-seven years of experience in industry with positions in finance, accounting, administration, and operations and is now retired after thirty-one years with IBM.  Steve was a founding member of Excelsior Insights, LLC in 2007.  He was the founding President of the Peachtree Ridge High School Band Boosters Association and has been, and continues to be, involved in church and community organizations. Steve and his wife, Jeanne, have two married adult sons and reside in Duluth, Ga.

Warren received a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Tennessee and a Master of Business Information Systems degree from Georgia State University.  He holds a CPA and a Series 7 license.  Warren is the sole proprietor of a CPA firm and is a partner in a financial services company.  Warren was a founding member of Excelsior Insights, LLC in 2007.  He played Sousaphone in the biggest high school marching band in Southwestern Virginia.  He was the founding Treasurer of the Peachtree Ridge High School Band Boosters Association and has been, and continues to be, involved in a number of church, civic and community organizations.  Warren has a married adult son and resides with his wife, Barbara, in Duluth, Ga.

Greg Whitlock

Greg Whitlock received his Bachelor of Business Administration in Risk Management and Insurance from Georgia State University.  He earned his Certified Insurance Counselor & Certified Risk Manager designation in 2003 and 2006, respectfully. Greg’s experience started as an Underwriter for different insurance companies, and he became an Agent in 1999.  In 2008 he started his own firm and has developed a niche with social service / nonprofit organizations. He is a Duluth City Council Member since 2007 and has served on multiple nonprofit boards recently chairing the Gwinnett Coalition for Health & Human Services.  Greg continues to be involved in a number of church, civic and community organizations in a leadership role.

Kevin Monroe

Kevin believes that people who find and follow the higher purpose for their life and leadership have more fun, experience greater fulfillment, and make the world better and brighter for everyone else.

Since he was a teenager — and that was a long time ago — he has been passionate about “making the world a better place.” That has led him to work with all kinds of nonprofit and for-profit organizations and causes.

His unique contribution to the world is creating environments and hosting conversations where people are inspired, equipped, and encouraged to live, love, and lead in extraordinary ways.

He hosts a variety of events and experiences designed to do just that including: the Higher Purpose Podcast, The Gratitude Challenge, This ExtraOrdinary Life, and most recently, The League of Extraordinary Difference Makers.

Kevin holds a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga University and an undergraduate degree in theology from Mercer University.

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