Laboratory for Fundraising Effectiveness

Through a three-step process, CAPTEL’s Laboratory for Fundraising Effectiveness assesses client fundraising programs; identifies the fundraising potential of an organization and recommends specific programs and initiatives to meet or exceed financial goals.


In-depth audit of all fundraising activities — comparing results to benchmarks derived from our private and public databases of results and years of fundraising experience.  As a part of this process, we evaluate solicitation methods and frequency; donor file segmentation strategies; response rates and average gift sizes.  The Assessment provides clients with important insights on what is working and which programs are not producing desired results.


Identifying initiatives and concepts driving financial support through discussions with key stakeholders (board members, organization’s leadership and staff, and, surveys of large and small donors).  The goal of this step is the development of a strategic fundraising communications platform designed to tell your story in a way that generates greater levels of support among both small and large donors.


Report on key quantitative and qualitative findings and presentation of comprehensive strategic recommendations.  Recommendations will be supported by the Assessment and Feasibility Study.  The report and presentation will serve as a guide for your organization’s future planning and include data-informed projections of what your organization might raise and at what cost.


Clay possesses the unique combination of deep experience in strategic marketing and advertising with over 15 years working on fundraising programs for a wide range of nonprofit organizations. He is the co-author of “Inspiring Generosity: Marketing Techniques for Fundraising Visionaries” which was published in 2018.

After graduating from George Washington University, Clay began his career at Stephen Winchell & Associates and then Lewis & Company, both Washington, D.C. agencies specializing in direct mail fundraising for political and nonprofit organizations.  In 1985 he began a long career in Leo Burnett’s Account Management group in Chicago where he worked with some of the world’s most iconic brands; including M&M/Mars, McDonalds, Altoids and Pillsbury. During his time at Burnett he won two Gold and one Silver Effie Awards for work on Altoids.

Since 2010 Clay has focused his efforts on the nonprofit world working with Rady Children’s Hospital Foundation, NorthShore University HealthSystem Foundation, Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. Clay views this work as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to apply his vast experience on the brand side to the fundraising needs of his philanthropic clients where it all began for him.