My Journey from Nonprofit to Nonprofit Consulting: What I Learned

May 9, 2019 Monika Burchfield

A board saying My 1st Day @ Appirio to depict a nonprofit consulting journey


Creating a brighter future.

I can’t help but admire my colleagues who work so hard to elevate the human condition. I feel immensely privileged to have played a key role in advising and coaching future leaders, improving access to education, and in creating a safer after-school environment for residents across Illinois. As a major gift fundraiser for higher education, I helped raise money for scholarships, faculty recruitment, and capital improvements. 

Giving others a voice. 

Some of the most rewarding experiences of my career are in the nonprofit space. I’m extremely fortunate to have been an advocate for children who are medically fragile and their overwhelmed families. I was also part of an amazing team that raised hunger and homelessness awareness and raised funds for over one million meals. 

After nearly 20 years of producing events, writing grants, soliciting charitable gifts, planning large-scale volunteer activities, and managing the expectations of key stakeholders, I decided to make the switch from nonprofits to nonprofit consulting. 

Thriving through transition

Throughout my career, I’ve made it my mission to make things better. Before I was a consultant, I led the effort to enhance the worker experience and maximize the value of CRM solutions for major and planned giving professionals, volunteer managers, researchers, marketers, annual fund teams, and others in the nonprofit space. 

I discovered that implementing a CRM solution positions an organization for funding opportunities because it enables them to quickly provide on-demand information to donors who may be interested in a specific program or activity. 

Most importantly, a CRM solution provides the tools to build and document the entire donor relationship. In most cases, the CRM is the ‘brains of the operation’ because it contains all the data about a prospect. 

Beyond this, CRM data facilitates strategic discussions that go beyond a major gift ask; a CRM enables you to thoughtfully segment your lists to reach out to donors in a smarter, more personalized way - not unlike successful retail brands. 

Over time, I was drawn to the solutions behind the scenes — the ones that empower brands to share their stories while managing the expectations of clients, students, and donors;  the solutions that drive digital transformation and give organizations a business advantage in an increasingly competitive market for donor dollars.

Enter Appirio...

I made a purposeful shift to a company that supports work that fits into one’s life - not the other way around. I was drawn to Appirio’s nurturing, collaborative, and customer-centric culture, and I really love the positive environment and the opportunities to grow. 

Since I made the transition to consulting, I’ve noticed a lot of parallels between the Appirio approach and the donor-centered fundraising mindset that has long been a pillar of my professional career. Being deeply aware of these similarities and differences has enriched my current experience and has taught me to see things in new ways. 

Most importantly, I appreciate the flexibility and the opportunity to be present with my friends and family while being able to make an impact on a cause near and dear to my heart: improving the human condition. 

Ready to learn more about Appirio’s passionate work culture?  

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About the Author

Monika Burchfield

Monika Burchfield joined Appirio after nearly 20 years of professional practice as a nonprofit executive. Over her career, she's raised millions for education, youth programs, and health and social services. In 2018, she earned her CFRE (Certified Fundraising Executive) designation and holds a Masters and Bachelors from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Over her career, she’s volunteered to develop reporting, database training, and user adoption efforts at every opportunity.

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