J. Richard Taft (Dick)—Dick began his career in New York, working in publishing, advertising and philanthropy. He then came to Washington and, with the help of five major foundations, founded the Washington Foundation Library Center—an information resource for nonprofit fundraisers. For some years, he also served as editor of Foundation News, the leading national journal on foundation philanthropy. He subsequently launched the Taft Group, a consulting business focused on institutional relations with foundations. The company grew and added services in marketing, communications, campaigning and other disciplines related to raising money. It also launched an information/publishing service that produced numerous annual directories on gifts and grants, newsletters on fundraising, management and marketing, and diverse books covering topics of concern to the philanthropic and fundraising world. That aspect of Taft grew substantially, attaining over 80,000 annual subscribers worldwide. After many years, Dick sold the information and publishing business to International Thomson, Canada, later to become Thomson-Reuters through merger. He subsequently established the Taft Organization, returning to his roots in institutional consulting.
Dick has served on the Boards of various nonprofits and been a featured speaker at many national fundraising conferences. Sponsored by the U.S. State Department AID Program, he has conducted seminars on nonprofit fundraising and marketing in Europe, Israel, Africa, South America and the Far East. He has authored two highly popular books: Understanding Foundations (McGraw Hill) and How to Rate Y our Development Office (Taft), written for the CEOs of nonprofit institutions. The National Association of Fundraising Professionals chose the latter as, “best fundraising book of the decade.” Dick is currently at work on a new book entitled, Fifteen Colossal Fundraising Mistakes Every Nonprofit Must Avoid.
Dick has trained minority fundraiser under grants from the Ford Foundation and Phelps Stokes Foundation. He also served on the advisory board of a Ford Foundation/Lilly Endowment-funded project to improve the financial health of historically black colleges. The American Citizens with Disabilities awarded him their “Exemplary Service Award” for his voluntary contributions to that field
Shelley Rudick—Shelley has served as vice president of the Taft Organization since its founding. She played a major role in building both the consulting and publishing business to national and international stature. She began her career in education, teaching English and communications within the Baltimore, Md., School System. Subsequently, she worked in sales and marketing for Pitney Bowes. Later, she joined the Maryland Ballet Company as director of marketing, public relations and communications.
Joining Taft, Shelley brought her diverse skills to the fields of publishing and fundraising, taking on a wide array of client projects aimed at improving their financial resources and overall sustainability. Among them:
- Organizing and managing focus groups and donor surveys toward helping to shape marketing and communications positioning.
- Creating media campaigns for television, radio and website promotion.
- Planning and organizing community-wide events.
- Writing fundraising case statements and marketing materials.
- Recruiting and managing celebrities for special promotions.
- Training staff and volunteers for membership and fundraising roles.
- Planning and overseeing direct mail and telemarketing promotions.
Shelley played a key role in implementing campaign and membership feasibility studies for many Taft clients. Several of these assignments led to legislative approval enabling the creation of public/private partnerships.She has served on as well as advised Boards of Directors of nonprofits and ngos. She has recently been involved in the planning, development and financing of a number of major initiatives in the environmental field and with international diplomacy and advocacy organizations.
ASSOCIATED SUPPORT SERVICES
Over its long history, the Taft Organization has worked with and in some cases, mentored highly specialized niche firms, to provide sophisticated and strategic services to support many of our clients’ objectives. We have formed lasting relationships with just a few of them that we regard as “best in class,” and often partner with them to help achieve our project goals. Among them:
Benjamin Lord Associates, Donor Research, Washington, D.C.
Clear Marble Technology—Web Design, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Davidoff Communications—Mission-Driven Marketing, Chicago, Ill.
Lautman, Maska, Neil & Company–Direct Mail, Washington, D.C.
LJR Custom Strategies –Focus groups and market research, Washington, D.C. and San Francisco
Robert J. Berendt Associates—Organizational Planning, Management and Analysis, Washington, D. C.
Visibility—Branding products for nonprofit fundraising, membership and marketing, Lyons, Colorado