Client Testimonials

Eric Lesh, Exec. Director — LGBT Bar Assn of NY / LeGaL Foundation: 

“As Executive Director of the LGBT Bar Association of Greater New York/Le-Gal Foundation, I was seeking a skilled Board Retreat Facilitator, and Charlie Finlay came highly recommended by a respected legal colleague. After an initial phone call and brief meeting, we engaged him to Custom-Design and Facilitate our Annual Board Retreat. Charlie focused on his first task: designing a custom Board Retreat agenda that was responsive to our current needs. He created an anonymous board survey tool to gather candid input from the entire board. In addition, he conducted in-depth interviews with a sample of Board members from the Association and Foundation. This was no easy feat as our Board consists of an Association Board and a Foundation Board which have a combined 24 members. When we next met, he had tackled all the heavy lifting and presented us with a concise overview of the survey/interview data as it related to the Board’s level of understanding of their board roles and governance responsibilities. His inquiry produced a Strategic Overview of the Key Issues our board hoped to address in the retreat (carefully noting where there was sufficient board consensus on topics where we could successfully bring into a one-day retreat). Then data presented led to a Needs-Driven Agenda which was vetted and enthusiastically approved our Board officers.

Charlie is extremely passionate about board governance. He is insightful, innovative, generous with his time, and knowledgeable about how to best address potentially sensitive board issues, including: board governance, working committees, board fundraising responsibilities, and board’s pivotal role in monitoring current activities while planning future priorities. Because we employ a small staff, we rely on a robust and committed “working board.” Charlie was keenly aware of the need for high levels of Board Engagement, balanced by clearly articulated and agreed upon Board Responsibilities. Addressing these issues helps to alleviate the workload of an already over-committed staff. He offered meaningful suggestions to address these issues, for which I remain grateful. As a seasoned fund-raiser, he very generously offered to assist with Sponsorship Outreach for our upcoming Annual Gala, ensuring we met our event revenue potential.

After much preparation, the COVID-19 outbreak prevented our ability to gather in person for our meticulously planned Board Retreat, but Charlie provided support to smaller board committee groups to set goals, policies and responsibilities. This proved extremely effective and Charlie joined our newly formed Development Committee on a zoom call to offer his take on emerging issues and provide guidance to the group where needed. His participation was instrumental in building enthusiasm and a sense of responsibility and accountability among the Board group. He really cares for his organizational clients and their work. I highly recommend his governance and fundraising consulting services without reservation.”

Andrea (Andy) Marra, Executive Director – TLDEF: 

“As the incoming Executive Director of the Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), I met Charlie less than a month into my tenure. No stranger to TLDEF and our work, we retained Charlie as Interim Development Director to stabilize our individual giving and institutional giving programs, while we conducted a search for a permanent Development Director. Most notably, he provided incredible leadership, planning strategy and execution for our annual Trans Advocacy Awards benefit that resulted in TLDEF surpassing our ambitious revenue goals by achieving 150% of what we had anticipated. But perhaps most important, Charlie was diligent and thorough with making sure our permanent Director of Development was set up for success by creating a comprehensive playbook to assist the incoming director’s onboarding process. Charlie is not only passionate about the value of non-profits, but truly understands the importance of planning and impact-driven results. I remain grateful that TLDEF once again benefited from Charlie’s deep expertise and seasoned experience at such a critical time for the organization.”

Vanessa Crews, Managing Director of Development – City Year New York:  

“Because he came highly recommended by a trusted colleague, we recently engaged Charlie to design and facilitate a two-day Strategic Planning Retreat. His is renowned for his expertise with Board and Staff Retreats, and it quickly became very clear we had made a great choice. He reviewed program and fiscal background information, conducted pre-retreat anonymous surveys and brief confidential phone calls with all participants to elicit their persona goals and top priorities for the Retreat. He then worked with the Executive Director and myself to create an agenda responsive to participant’s needs, which also met our overarching goal of creating a Strategic Fundraising Plan for 2020. His approach to planning was rigorous, data-driven and impeccable. The activities and exercises included were geared to the ultimate goals of more focused and proactive planning, firm individual goals and accountability, assessment metrics, and project timelines. After two days, we emerged with full work plans that included greater clarity of goals and accountability, and a consensus around teamwork and collaboration. We now have a clear 12-month path to success. He conducted a post-retreat anonymous survey to gauge learning, participant satisfaction, and feedback. He wrote and submitted a comprehensive Retreat Summary and Recommendations Report, which will be a very helpful document moving forward. We are definitely planning on using him again in this capacity, and I highly recommend his Retreat Design and Facilitation Skills.

Eliza Byard, Executive Director – GLSEN:  

“Having previously met years ago, I was aware of Charlie’s accomplishments as a strategic fundraiser, and was pleased to engage him as an Interim Development Director. During a four-month period, he oversaw GLSEN’s fundraising portfolio, including: Major Gifts, Foundation & Corporate Relations, Individual Giving/Direct Response, and Special Events.  He provided leadership continuity and supervision for five fundraising staffers, as well as several consultants and fundraising vendors.  He also worked with senior GLSEN staff and other internal and external partners. Because of his depth of experience, I was able to take time away for a previously planned vacation, knowing he had the skills and knowledge to provide fundraising leadership and be a key point of contact for high-level donors and constituents. During his period of engagement, GLSEN closed two seven-figure major contributions for which Charlie facilitated final grant agreements and donor match requirements. He handled several delicate donor issues expertly during his tenure, including during my absence, and worked closely with both staff and board committees preparing for GLSEN’s largest fundraising event. The staff benefited from his support and mentorship during this period. Upon completion of his engagement, he provided a helpful Engagement Report and Recommendations Summary. His strategic recommendations were tailored to GLSEN’s current needs and future aspirations, and helped advance our thinking regarding investments in our fundraising team, and inform future directions for our outreach, stewardship, and fundraising strategies. His services were invaluable, and I’m pleased to recommend him.”

Thomas Krever, CEO — HMI:  

HMI recently engaged Charlie as Interim Chief Development Officer. We benefited greatly from his expertise, fundraising skill, leadership, and commitment to best practices. He provided strong continuity and oversight during this transition which was greatly appreciated. As a member of the senior team, Charlie’s insights into areas beyond development (including Finance, Program and Communications), were literally trans-formative. His contributions to our Executive Team Retreat elevated our planning conversations. His assistance with the Executive Search was critical to identifying, recruiting and on-boarding our new CDO. This was his fourth engagement with us, having previously completed engagements that included: facilitation of our annual Staff Retreat; systems redesign to improve our Outreach, Solicitation and Stewardship of Major Donors; and Interim Institutional Giving Leadership. In addition, he will be providing some Capacity Building for program directors via a “Grants Management Matters” Forum in the near future. Charlie is a not only a wonderful thoughtpartner, teacher, and team player, but he is fun to be around. I look forward to future collaborations, as he always serves to reinvigorate HMI’s work.” 

Joanne Adams, Executive Director – Belmont Childcare Association:  

“The Belmont Child Care Association (BCCA), recently engaged Charlie for a two-fold Capacity Building Engagement to assist us with: Board Development and Fund Development.  We benefited greatly from his expert consultation, and his commitment to best practices in governance and fundraising. He conducted a Board Assessment, which included anonymous Board Survey Tool as well as Confidential One-on-One Board Interviews with our entire board. These activities were customized for BCCA’s current needs, which were specifically to gauge the Board’s Engagement, Capacity Building, Diversity, and Fundraising Needs. He attended our Board Meeting to present his findings and answer questions.  A  formal report was submitted, summarizing the inquiry work undertaken, sharing findings, and offering recommendations for improving Board Education and Governance. For the Fund Development phase of the project, Charlie worked with me and my team to identify Foundation Funder Prospects. He also created a Strategic Funder Outreach Plan, providing Proposal Tracking Tools to manage outreach. Our ultimate goal is to improve the diversification of our revenue sources, by increasing Foundation funding. We happened to engage Charlie in two areas which seem to be his strengths – Institutional Fundraising and Board Education and Governance. As an Executive Director of a small but growing nonprofit, we currently do not have a full fundraising staff so his support and contributions were extremely helpful to me. Similarly, our board emerged energized about his report and findings, and we are planning to explore and implement many of his recommendations at our next Board Meeting. He understood where we were in our organizational evolution, and his advice is sure to help us get to the next level. I hope to engage Charlie again in the future: he’s an extremely competent and patient teacher, who helped us elevate, sustain and improve our work.”

Jillian Weiss, Executive Director – TLDEF (former):  

“Finlay Consulting had done some great work for TLDEF in the past (a Strategic Development Plan and Board Assessment), as the incoming ED, I engaged Charlie to provide Capacity Building and Executive Coaching for our new Development Director. He is a patient and effective teacher, and his vast fundraising contacts and nonprofit experience were extremely valuable. I engaged him more recently to oversee our Annual Board Retreat, which focused on: integrating new board members; building consensus around organizational vision; and finding ways to better align resources in pursuit of our organizational goals. He provided much-needed Retreat Structure and Facilitation, which enabled me to participate fully with my board. He provided a Post-Retreat Summary Brief which synthesized our thoughts, and will be used by the board moving forward. Charlie stands out and above the crowd — not only for the experience he brings — but because he is simply a lovely human being. Being around him is enlivening, positive, and uplifting.”

Seth Rosen, Managing Director – GMHC (former) 

“While overseeing Development and Communications at GMHC, I engaged Charlie to work on a Strategic Plan for a major program the agency was launching. He also graciously helped us in an Interim Leadership capacity overseeing Foundation Relations, during an unexpected staffing transition. His experience as a Funder/Grant-maker contributed to the increase in our share of successful grant awards. He implemented best stewardship practices in all our revenue generating areas, overhauled the Major Donor program, and launched a reinvigorated Planned Giving Program. While his quantitative skills are impressive (Revenue Budgeting, Program Evaluation, and Performance Analysis), he is also a fantastic Leader and Mentor.  I was impressed by the way he thoughtfully created and co-facilitated our Development Retreat. The planning was strategic, inclusive and goal-based, and the activities were engaging and thought-provoking. His comprehensive follow-up included a transcript, next steps, and the results of a survey tool designed to gather feedback from the group. He is deeply invested in improving Board/Staff Relations. I highly recommend his services for any organization that has a desire to be more effective and outcomes-driven.“

Jarrett Lucas, Executive Director – Stonewall Community Foundation:  

“Charlie is a heart-driven nonprofit professional with broad-range but practiced skills in Organizational Leadership, Fundraising, Program Development, and Institutional Philanthropy. I had the pleasure of working closely with Charlie during his tenure as a Board Member at Stonewall Community Foundation. In particular, when I was Program Manager and he was Chair of the Programs Committee, I found his expertise invaluable. Among the initiatives he guided was the creation of our very successful Strategic Partnerships Fund, which over the course of its first two years funded 14 projects in NYC, executed between 55 organizations. From RFP Planning to Process Evaluation, Charlie’s incisive thinking elevated our goals, work coordination, and the resulting impact. If you have the chance to deploy his talents, take it.”

Barbara Davis, Senior Development Director — HMI (former):   

“Engaging Charlie Finlay as a Resource Development Consultant at HMI has greatly enhanced and elevated our work over the past year. I can honestly say it was one of the best investments I could have made. Charlie is a consummate professional who, in addition to his expertise in all modes of fundraising, Devised Creative and Strategic Solutions to some of our ongoing challenges. He brought great analytical skills, fundraising knowledge, coaching expertise, and passion for LGBTQ Youth Development work.  He was an instrumental part of our Team Building, which helped assimilate new members, and re-shape our structure, direction and success. He strategically organized, and brilliantly facilitated our Development Team Retreat. He ensured the day was full of stimulating activities geared toward our articulated retreat goals. He created a safe, supportive and fun environment for learning, sharing and team problem solving. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, ensuring a high-yield and return on our investment of time away from the office. He is a trusted colleague, valuable resource, and inspiring coach, and has quickly become my “go-to” for issues related to fundraising, organizational evolution, governance, and strategic planning. I cannot recommend Charlie more highly. In fact, I have just secured his services again to lead the Revitalization and Overhaul of our Major Donor Program.

Joanna Cannon, Officer – Walton Family Foundation (formerly PENCIL):   

“During my tenure as COO at PENCIL, we engaged Charlie to serve as Interim Vice President of Resource Development during a national search for a permanent Vice President. As Interim VP, Charlie was charged with the responsibility of leading the Resource Development Team. The supervision, assistance, guidance and empowerment he offered staff was very much appreciated. He provided the team with Capacity Building to sharpen their development skills through both informal day-to-day management guidance and feedback, and through more formal methods, including several targeted Fundraising Forums that he custom-designed based on the needs of our team. After a swift but thorough review of our development data, he provided a comprehensive Revenue Portfolio Analysis of our fundraising and provided specific recommendations to improve our development strategies for reaching both our short-term, and longer-term goals. This included recommendations on our individual giving, major donor, foundations, and corporate funding streams. He also provided some welcome recommendations for effectively leveraging our organization’s 20th anniversary, which includes a benchmark Anniversary Dinner Gala. He provided key staffing structure recommendations to optimize fundraising, and participated in our mid-year review process.  He was a welcome member of our Senior Team, and offered strategic advice and Executive Leadership Coaching regarding Board Engagement and Governance. He is an excellent Development Coach  and was a delight to work with. He brought a welcome positive energy and disciplined fundraising grit to our office. We retained him to assist with the on-boarding and orientation of our new VP of Resource Development. It was a truly wonderful experience, and we recommend him whole-heartedly.”

Mark Misrok, President – National Working Positive Coalition:  

“Charlie has been an important resource to NWPC since the summer of 2015 when we engaged him as an Executive Leadership Coach.  As the Board President of a National Coalition at a pivotal moment in its evolution, our weekly sessions provided me with insightful and effective consultation. Together, we are addressing key issues of Coalition Structure, Board Engagement, Governance, Leadership, and Resource Development. Charlie is able to help me see important, complex issues more clearly, which contributes to creative problem-solving, and better decision-making. We have made more progress than I ever thought was possible on many areas of concern. He is an engaging, responsive, thought partner – insightful, positive, and challenging in a constructive way. He has helped me become a better leader, which benefits our work and our Coalition. We’ve also succeeded in many new endeavors through his Capacity Building around fundraising. For example, we had an opportunity to host an Institute on HIV and Employment in connection with the 2015 US Conference on AIDS, but we were uncertain we had the financial resources to underwrite such a large convening with such short notice. With Charlie’s positive encouragement, superior project-management skills, and strategic thinking, we were able to plan and fund the event, which was a huge success.  Because he has a strong network of funders, he was able to make a few Key Funder Introductions, which resulted in our ability to raise support through Entirely New Funding Sources.  He is a powerful asset for both board and organizational leaders alike. I cannot recommend him highly enough.” 

Kenneth Cox, Senior Development Director –  SAGE (former):  

“While Senior Development of Advancement at SAGE, a senior development staffer left the organization and I realized it would take some time to recruit the right person to fill this very important position. I engaged Charlie as an Interim Leadership Consultant to help meet our very ambitious foundation proposal and reporting schedule during this interim period. Having previously worked with him, I knew he was a great fundraising strategist, formidable grant-writer, and excellent project manager.  In addition to those talents, he added great value to our work in that he was already well-acquainted with the majority of our funders, as well as our prospective funder pool. With Charlie overseeing Institutional Giving that I was able to focus my energies on recruiting for this very demanding position.  I highly recommend his solutions-oriented services.”

Lyle Matthew Kan, VP – Funders for LGBT Issues (formerly Stonewall Foundation): 

“I had the pleasure of working with Charlie when I oversaw Development and Communications for the Stonewall Community Foundation, where Charlie served on the Board of Directors. Because of his extensive knowledge of philanthropy and foundation operations, he quickly became an effective Chair of the Programs Committee and Grants Advisory Group. In addition, he took an active role in helping shape our Fundraising Strategy, which is where we collaborated regularly. Our work on the Stonewall Swim Event stands out because we achieved record fundraising results through a focus on increasing Corporate Sponsorships and kayaker participation, resulting in increased revenue and reduced production costs. It’s also important to note that during a time of Leadership Transition, Charlie was deeply concerned about the well-being of the Foundation Staff, often checking in to see how things were going, which was very much appreciated.  Charlie is innovative, funny, loyal and passionate about his work. I wholeheartedly recommend him if you are in need of someone to help get your grant-making or grant-seeking back on track.”

Michael Corrente, Director of Institutional Development – GMHC (former):   

“I have known and worked with Charlie in a variety of ways over the past 10 years. Initially, he was my direct supervisor, but through the years, he became a Trusted Colleague and Mentor. While at GMHC, we were a strong two-person fundraising unit, balancing each other’s strengths and increasing revenue at every turn. During that time I realized that he was one of the most Driven, Dedicated Fundraisers I had ever met and I made sure to study and learn as much as I could under his tutelage. As we both moved on, we kept in constant contact. I used him as a sounding board and Coach for my Career Transitions and sought his advice for any difficult fundraising tasks that were standing in my way. I have been lucky enough to know him as a colleague again over the past year, serving as an official affiliated consultant for Finlay Consulting Services and engaged to collaborate on some of his larger client projects. His drive and dedication have only grown stronger over time.

Dena Johnson, Cohort Fellow – Baruch School of Public Affairs Executive MPA:  

Charlie is a natural leader, leading most of our graduate school cohort workgroups. He kept us on track and always asked the right questions to get the group to look at all aspects of the assignment at hand. His discipline is matched by his engaging personality. Charlie’s work on a consulting project for the Lower East Side Tenement Museum was particularly impressive. He is detail-oriented, insightful, has high-standards, and is an excellent motivator. He is someone I keep in touch with for both personal and future professional consultation reasons.”

Bill Stackhouse, Director, Institute for Gay Men’s Health – GMHC (former):   

While overseeing the Institute for Gay Men’s Health, we engaged Charlie to support and sustain our work.  He has an in depth and concrete understanding of program and is entirely committed to sustaining cutting-edge HIV Prevention and Treatment, which is a testament to both his deep passion and broad abilities.  Most notably, Charlie was instrumental in creating and fully funding a new and critically needed initiative: The HIV & Aging Initiative, which consisted of targeted services for the 50+ population. Without exaggeration, we simply would not have been able to launch this effort without him. Charlie’s work as a fundraiser is both informed and enhanced by his experiences as a Grant-maker.  He has a solid understanding of Research and Evaluation, and has great Project Management, Strategic Planning, and Analytical Skills. He offered valuable input, insightful consultation, and made enduring contributions to the organization. He is highly regarded in the HIV, LGBTQ and health-related communities, and I recommend his services without reservation.” 

Michael Silverman, Executive Director – TLDEF (former):  

“We engaged Charlie for two related consulting projects in the fall of 2015. The first was a Board Assessment, in which Charlie created and administered custom Board Surveys and held one-on-one interviews to gauge  the Board’s Engagement, Capacity Building Needs, Diversity, and Fundraising Comfort. His findings and recommendations were included in a comprehensive report shared with the Board, which will be the basis for an upcoming Board Retreat. The second project was the creation of a Strategic Plan for fundraising designed to leverage the growing awareness of transgender issues, and deliver increasing gains in operating revenue. Charlie is an expert with Best Practices, Goal-Setting, and Strategic Planning and Execution. The plan he created will help us optimize our fundraising efforts, further diversify our portfolio, and improve our organization’s ability to meet the needs of the transgender community. He was an enthusiastic and insightful resource for Board and Executive Leadership; always listening intently to divergent opinions, reframing options, offering new perspectives on what is possible, and challenging the status quo. He has a keen understanding of the Organizational Change Dynamics, and was a source of constant support and encouragement for staff. His knowledge and insights into Board Evolution and Governance were extremely helpful to me and our Board members.  I strongly recommend his services to anyone whose nonprofit leadership could benefit from a resourceful and creative strategist.”

Elise Colomer-Grimaldi, Director of Institutional Partnerships – SAGE (former):  

“I worked closely with Charlie in his capacity as a fundraising consultant at SAGE.  Charlie is a motivated, highly skilled executive with the ability to manage multiple, complex projects at once and deliver results on or before deadline. Charlie is able to work across divisions in a program-rich and fast-moving organization, and does so with the utmost sense of purpose. His attention to detail and drive to deliver excellence makes him ideally suited to any nonprofit interested in establishing standards and achieving results. He exhibits unsurpassed professionalism, and is a pleasure to work with.”

Tracey Volz, Finance Director – IAVI (former): 

“During my time as Grant Manager at International AIDS Vaccine Initiative, I worked closely with Charlie in his role of Director of Private Giving in the Resource Mobilization Department. Charlie’s portfolio contained many restricted gifts and grants and we worked closely to ensure Grant Compliance. It was a pleasure to work with Charlie and see firsthand his deep dedication to the mission of ending HIV/AIDS. It is a cause that resonates strongly with him, is reflected in his career path, and has given deep meaning to his work and life.  It is his clear understanding of Donor Stewardship, Grants Management, and Gift Procurement, coupled with his personal passion, which make an ideal combination for not only a wonderful colleague, but a valuable asset to any organization.”

Shannon Flasch, Special Projects Manager – W. T. Grant Foundation: 

I consider myself very lucky to have had Charlie as a manager and mentor. From the very beginning, Charlie was keen to identify ways that I could use my strengths and further develop my professional skills.  I learned a great deal from him including how to build and nurture collaborative, solution-focused teams. Although Charlie was my supervisor, he always treated me as a teammate–someone with unique value and intelligence, who could add  to the work in a meaningful way. I saw him treat everyone who worked with us the same way, and I believe that it was this collaborative approach that created a strong, positive and learning office culture.  In our work together, Charlie truly excelled at managing the Board of Trustees. He cared about their concerns and their needs, as individuals, and as a Governing Body.  The Board was essential to the Foundation’s success, and everything that Charlie did helped them to better understand their Board Roles as well as Foundation Staff Roles.  He ensured Board/Staff Relations and interactions were positive. He has a natural, easy rapport with others that enables him to make connections quickly. This helped create strong connections that contributed to a thriving organization. When Charlie departed, he was adamant about providing Succession Planning whereby I would be sufficiently prepared to confidently assume his responsibilities, and build upon his success.  When I worked with Charlie, he was a grant-maker, a leader and one of the founders of the staff committee that made discretionary grant awards. He was the person who taught me how to Evaluate Grant Proposals. I have no doubt that his insights in to the funding process helped him as he moved into development, and his success since that transition bears this out.  If I had the opportunity to work with Charlie again, I would take it in a heartbeat. He is a patient teacher, a thoughtful colleague, and a savvy grant-maker and fundraiser. I cannot recommend him highly enough.”

Mary Hastings, Executive Director — The New School (former): 

“Charlie and I were colleagues at The New School, where I served as Director of Development for The New School for Drama and The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music. Charlie’s oversaw The Office of Institutional Giving, which served the entire university — eight school divisions, as well as the Provost and President’s offices. His efforts were herculean, and his impact, transformative. When he arrived, his  office was fraught with high turnover, excessive bureaucracy, and a less-than-stellar reputation with the tenured faculty. In just a short time, he earned the trust of the staff, Streamlined Work Systems and Processes, oversaw a Development Database Migration, and was responsible for Monitoring Funder Outreach and Stewardship. He strategically Re-Branded the Institutional Giving Office making it more approachable and responsive to our faculty, Deans, Department Chairs and President. The results of his creativity and innovation were dramatic. During the economic decline, he and his team were able to exceed ambitious revenue goals, and the beneficial effects of his work in the university endures to this day. I was particularly fond of Charlie because while other divisions had larger budgets and more fundraising potential, he was just as generous with his time and talent as he was with every other division. He took great care in his work, and always had Multiple Strategic Options and Contingencies in play, which is important with university funders. I’ve made it a point to stay in touch with him since then, because he is a valued thought partner and friend. We’ve even had the pleasure of collaborating on several consulting projects which was a wonderful reminder of how joyful work can be when you are joined by a High Performer who is as talented and enthusiastic as Charlie. I am looking forward to future collaborations with him!”  

Ron Kassimir, Associate Dean – The New School for Social Research (former):  

“Charlie is a great, dedicated colleague. He developed a brand new office committed to serving the Fundraising and Research needs of the faculty, and recruited and retained a top-notch and exceptional staff.  He provided support and Capacity Building for both faculty and administrative grant-seekers, by creating and offering a popular series of Fundraising Forums on various topics, including: Identifying Potential Funders; Creating Compelling Proposals; and Grants Management Matters. He remained persistent and optimistic and was able to stabilize staffing turnover and achieve fiscal goals during a time of upheaval and change. He made good things happen in a very challenging and complex organizational  environment.”