Track: Organizational Excellence
Format: Project-Based

In the age of technology and big data, many nonprofits are focusing on presenting outcomes—graphs, numbers, percentages, etc. These are good. In fact, they are great to have, but they are not the whole story, and rarely can you secure a gift based solely on facts.

There is more psychology involved in philanthropy than most acknowledge. Some even see it as manipulation when it really is identifying how to speak directly to the head and heart concurrently to make your audience fall hopelessly and rationally in love with your mission.

Donors want to hear the story of your organization, of your successes and how you approach and overcome challenges. They want to know that while their gift may help two youth gain independence, hearing what it means for “Jack and Jane” to experience the confidence of being out of the system, in college and their own apartment can be a game changer. Hearing how they couldn’t have done it without YOUR help taps into the psychological needs of the donor and can help you secure the gift to support programs for the next Jack and Jane.

Participants will have the opportunity to begin writing the story of their organization or a program. Feedback will be shared on what we hear in each other’s stories and how small changes can transform what your audience hears and what would enhance the desire to give.

Learning Objectives:

  • Clarify your organization’s story—how do today’s priorities fit into your “storybook”
  • What your target/donor/community HEARS when you tell your story and how the nuances of storytelling to influence this
  • The psychology of philanthropy so your story goes through the head to the heart of your donors


  • Gerianne Puskas, chief advancement officer, Villa of Hope

Gerianne Puskas
Chief Advancement Officer
Villa of Hope
@whattwin; @VillaofHopeRoch

Gerianne Puskas joined the leadership team at the Villa in July 2015 and is now chief advancement officer. She brings to the Villa more than 25 years of experience in fundraising, nonprofit management, and leading community building initiatives. She has served in various positions with national nonprofit organizations where she focused on diversifying fundraising portfolios; strategy design and implementation; building and developing new teams; marketing; and managing regional and national accounts. In 2018, Puskas achieved the rank of Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) through CFRE International. She also serves on SUNY Empire State College’s Business Management & Economics Residency team, helping to educate and coach the next generation of nonprofit leaders. In addition to adjunct duties, Puskas helps develop residency curriculum and evaluates students’ prior learning to award undergraduate nonprofit management credits.