claire_axelrad_021Why Hire a Coach?

Why buy the loaf of bread when all you need right now is a slice?

Hiring in a slice of help to overcome a challenge can be cost-effective, and can set you on the track to bringing in the full loaf — when you’ve got the table set, you’re really ready for the meal, and you know what kind of bread you really hunger for. Metaphors aside…

Everyone can use a mentor.

You deserve one! Someone on your team deserves one! Hiring a coach can be a great way to cut through the clutter — all that stuff that’s weighing you down and getting in the way of moving forward.

Coaching can be a great way to define the real problem you’re facing

One we know what’s really going on, then we can develop a practical plan to get to the roots of what’s holding you (or someone on your staff) back. And what is learned can then be passed on to others – creating tentacle-like benefits that spread across the entire organization. We can set up an ongoing relationship where I’m almost like ancillary staff, or we can talk for as little as one hour. Coaching is flexible and cost-effective.

I’ll help you focus on your top priorities. 

Let’s figure out together what really needs to be done, and when and by whom. Maybe there’s another, better way to do it. There usually is!

You learn; then you pass on what you learn to others.

In some ways, coaching is like going to a conference or reading a book; then bringing the presenter or the author back with you to the office to pick their brains specifically as to how this all pertains to you and your organization. Because what works for someone else may not work for you. But something will work!

Use coaching to:

  • Get ‘clairity’ on your challenges and stay focused.
  • Feel more in control of what you do — no more “there’s nothing I can do about it”.
  • Achieve a deep understanding of systems and relationships that tend to have a significant impact on what you can/cannot achieve in your current situation.
  • Set priorities, both for learning and doing new things and letting go of old ones.
  • Learn how things interact and be able to anticipate actions and outcomes — the good, the bad and the ugly.
  • Find a path forward.
  • Get a pat on the back when you deserve one!

Why am I the Right “Slice” for You?

I will tell it to you straight.

If you ask me if what you’re thinking of doing will work, I won’t simply say “sure, go ahead.”  If it’s a bad idea, I’ll tell you. And we’ll brainstorm better solutions together.

I’ve done it all and seen it all. 

I’ve spent 30+ years in the trenches as a professional fundraiser at the executive management level.  Since beginning my coaching practice I’ve worked with organizations of all shapes and stripes. Human services… education… the arts… justice… religion…. and the basic principles apply.  I don’t have all the answers, but I know how to help you find them.  I’ll suggest options and we’ll work together to try them out.

My goal is to be your partner.

The point of coaching is growth — to get you and your team more expert and skilled, no matter your level of experience at this point in time.  We both know that the more you grow, the more your decisions become intuitive and your hunches become better based upon your understanding of and experience with underlying principles. The beauty of knowledge is that once you understand those principles, you can choose how to use them.

My aim is to get you to that point… where you can choose what method to use to achieve your own innovative solutions.  I’ll partner with you every step of the way, giving you the roots you need to succeed and the wings you need to fly.

It would be my honor to be your experienced and trusted advisor.

Executive Coaching

  • For executive, development and marketing directors, major gift and individual giving officers
  • For board leaders

Do you know what needs to be done, but can’t quite get it to happen?

Let me come in on the sidelines and give you the tools and encouragement you need to learn and grow. My goal is to increase your effectiveness, broaden your thinking, identify strengths and weaknesses and help you set and achieve challenging goals. We start by discussing where you are now and where you want to go. Then we challenge some of your thinking and assumptions and try to encourage reasonable risk taking. I will listen and communicate clearly and precisely.  I will support you and your team every step of the way, while also keeping us on task and goals.

Often people tell me they’ve tried [fill in blank] but it didn’t work.  They aren’t sure why. They hired a development professional, consultant, social media manager, or a [fill in the blank], but nothing changed. The person they hired couldn’t execute or didn’t deliver. They recruited great board members, but they wouldn’t raise funds.  They sent out an e-appeal, or put on an event, but it didn’t raise enough money.

There are many reasons why you may not have achieved your hoped-for results. But making assumptions about why you failed won’t get you to success.  Really digging for the root causes of the problems will.  That’s where I come in.

I got so many great ideas I asked Claire if I could get off the phone early… I was so excited to put them in place right away!

– Liz Givens, Chief Development Officer, Opportunity Fund

I was at my wit’s end trying to get my Foundation board to do something — anything. Claire described exactly what I needed to do. Everything she said applied to my board and to me. The steps she recommended were clear, specific, and made a lot of sense.

-Sandy Pollard, Stuart Public Library, Director

We now have a first-time donor protocol for the ENTIRE first year – thanks, welcome packet, impact report 4-6 months later, plus we ensure at least THREE additional contacts over the next year. So lovely – and reaffirming that being a donor-centric org and reaching out in a genuine, caring, authentic way really works. It doesn’t have to be slick or perfect – just a real invitation to get involved in something that really matters. Thank you for teaching us that!

–Julia Wilson, Executive Director, One Justice

It helps so much to be able to have another voice telling volunteers what they hear too often from me.

– Michael McFarland, Foundation for a College Education

I love your ability to bring social trends, business best practice and organizational development into our conversations. As a fundraising executive with an Organizational Development degree, I appreciate your contribution to my own growth.

— G. Meredith (McElwee) Betz, MSOD, CFRE, Director of Fund Development, Nemours Hospital

Nonprofit Career Coaching

  • For those transitioning into the sector from marketing, sales or other careers
  • For those already in the sector pondering their next move

Looking for a new role?

Let’s look together! Whether you’re new to the sector or already in it, but just aren’t as happy as you’d like to be, I love to help you find the job you’re meant to be doing.

  • Just need a quick review of your resume or cover letter?
  • Want to know how to promote your transferable skills?
  • Need help assessing your strengths?

I’ve been where you’ve been.  Once upon a time I made a huge transition from law to development. It worked out – so let’s chat!

My spirits are lifted and my pages of notes will move me forward to interview in a more meaningful way. Thank you!

Ellen Bilney

It took a while and glad it did because I ended up with a perfect fit in a new job!   It ties together all my experience and things I love, so very excited! Thank you again for all your help!

-Valerie Merklin, Development Manager, Santa Clara County Fairgrounds

It was lovely to actually talk to the person behind the blog, and even better to get such helpful advice/thought. Really appreciate you fitting me in on such short notice – it was an incredibly helpful session!

–Jill Freeman, J.Freeman Ventures

How it Works

How often do we meet?

You’ll get the best long-term results with a 6–12-month coaching package.  Most coaching is done with weekly calls but some prefer every other week. We can certainly begin with less if you like.  I want to make this work for you!  Either way, it’s a bit like therapy.  The more you put into it, the more you get out of it.

As challenges arise during the week, it can be really helpful to know you’ll have your coach to talk to about whatever transpired or is getting in your way. I’ll also respond to quick emails in between sessions. And, of course, if anything urgent happens in the interim I’ll try to be here for you.

How long are the sessions?

60 minutes. I want you to have enough time to feel like we’re getting to the heart of the matter, but not so much that you feel overwhelmed. Folks tell me that spending just one hour with me makes a light bulb go off in their head. I’m not just tooting my own horn here (well, maybe a little – after all, you want me to be confident I can help you, don’t you)? After 30+ years’ experience in the nonprofit management, marketing and fundraising trenches, I’m really good at reading between the lines and getting to the crux of the matter.

How does coaching typically proceed?

  • WHY:  Together, we outline your challenges, expectations, and goals.
  • WHAT:  We develop a plan to achieve your objectives.
  • HOW; WHEN; WHO:  I help you accomplish your objectives to reach your goals. We set up a regular time to check in to deal with challenges as they arise. And we’ll imagine new strategies that may not have occurred to us at the outset. This is your personal time and you set the agenda. My job is to help, have your back and offer support and guidance as you begin to implement what we’ve discussed, and to keep you on track towards your goal.

I’ll teach you everything I know about strategic, integrated fundraising and marketing to create passionate donor-investors. Together, we will:

  • Discern (the problem/challenge/opportunity at hand).
  • Discover (what can/cannot be fixed, including timeframe).
  • Dialogue (let’s discuss it).
  • Dissect (let’s go into the weeds and figure out what to do about it).
  • Do (action steps).

The Nitty Gritty

How much does it cost?

My normal hourly rate is $350, and I offer a discount on up to four ‘Hours of Power.’ It’s not cheap, but it’s extraordinarily cost-effective when you consider you’re getting someone with 30+ years of in-the-trenches experience at a fraction of what it would cost to hire someone this seasoned on staff. And if you’re primarily looking to train someone (yourself or a staff member) it may be a better investment than a class or conference that offers a generic cookie cutter approach. We laser in on your specific problem, whatever that may be. Also, there are relatively few coaches out there who have had significant experience as a non-consultant. I’ve been on the inside, and I know how different — and challenging — that can be.

Can I try you out to see if it’s a good fit?

Absolutely! That’s why I developed my introductory, discounted, jump-on-the-phone ‘Hour of Power.’ I know you may want to check me out before signing on to an ongoing coaching arrangement. Plus sometimes, rather than hire me for a big block of hours or a complete project, you just want to bat around a few ideas or share a particular problem you’ve been unable to resolve. An hour is often all it takes. Plus I know not everyone has a big budget for consulting, training, coaching and mentoring. But that doesn’t mean that everyone can’t use a little help now and then.

How much does an introductory “Hour of Power” cost?

One introductory Hour of Power is $297.  I discount my normal hourly rate of $350 by more than 15% to help make this affordable. Or you can buy a 4-session “Package of Power” discounted by 25%. It’s a good way to begin to ascertain if we’ll be a good fit. And it’s amazing what we can get done in 60 short minutes – especially when you send me questions and materials to review in advance.

The 4-session Package of Power is just $1,050. You’ll save $350 off my regular coaching fee — so it’s like getting four sessions for the price of three.  That’s one whole session free!  And it may be a better investment than a class or conference that offers a generic cookie cutter approach.

How do I get my Hour(s) of Power and how soon can we start?

If the ‘Hour of Power’ might meet your needs, let’s do it!  I promise we’ll pack a lot into our hour together and you’ll leave with practical strategies and a new vision around your next steps. Simply click on the links below to complete payment and reserve your time.

Grab a quick discounted Hour of Power and schedule your session.

Think you can use 4 hours? Sign up here for the super-discounted Package of Power and schedule your first session.

 What Others Are Saying

 Claire is an excellent fundraising coach – she kept me focused on solving the issues that were holding us back and always had suggestions for the way forward. Her knowledge & experience is unparalleled and she has a wealth of creative ideas!

–Elizabeth Givens, Chief Development Officer, Opportunity Fund

Thank you for giving your life and passion to helping in such a huge, creative and impactful way. I admire and give thanks for what you are doing. You have helped me and inspired me to make a difference.

– Jo G, Prichard

In less than an hour she gave us the perfect checklist to help us take a step back and look at the letter and collateral as a whole packet. Very practical and helpful – as always! We’re working on finalizing our renewals letters to existing donors today – and this was exactly what we needed!

— Julia Wilson, E.D., One Justice

You are a forever flowing fountain of enormous information and a wealth of ideas.  Thanks for being there for all of us small non-profits. —Sharon Coleman, St. Francis House

You have been absolutely terrific to work with. Your roadmap and assessment of where we are and where we can go has been so instrumental in having the LAFLA board stop and think about our future. Your audit is allowing us to move forward in tangible ways to improve our work so that we may help more clients in need of our services. I will count you among my many blessings throughout the year.

– Silvia Argueta, Executive Director, Los Angeles Legal Aid Foundation

If coaching sounds like a good fit for you, please contact me to explain your needs or grab a time for a free 15-minute exploratory phone call. Or simply email me at to suggest some good times to chat.

If coaching’s not right for your needs, there are lots of other ways we can work together too. Check them out here.