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Nell Edgington
Nell has over 17 years of experience innovating in the nonprofit sector. In her work at Social Velocity she has helped nonprofits grow their programs, find firmer financial footing, create a pitch for money to strengthen or grow their organizations, create strategic plans and much more.

In addition to leading Social Velocity’s efforts to accelerate social innovation, she writes and speaks extensively on innovating in the nonprofit sector. Beyond writing the popular Social Velocity blog, she co-authored The Strategic Management of Charter Schools: Frameworks and Tools for Educational Entrepreneurs recently published by Harvard Education Press. She has also contributed to’s Social Entrepreneurship blog, Fundraising Success Magazine, the Tactical Philanthropy blog, the Philanthropy 2173 blog, the Nonprofit blog, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s Mission:Innovation blog. She speaks to nonprofit boards, staff, donors, groups, associations and events, including the leading social innovation gathering, the Social Capital Markets Conference in San Francisco.

Prior to Social Velocity, she transformed the fundraising and marketing functions at KLRU, Austin’s PBS station. She raised $5 million annually, led a team of 15 marketing and fundraising professionals, and helped lead the station’s strategic planning process. She conceived, secured funding for and implemented a new development plan which increased annual revenue by $1.6 million, with double or triple-digit percentage growth in major gifts, membership, corporate support and online giving. These accomplishments led KLRU to 5 national PBS Awards for fundraising excellence.

Previously, as Director of Development at the Capital Area Food Bank, she increased annual revenue by 40% to $2.5 million. Prior to that, Nell was a management consultant helping nonprofits create strategic, marketing, business and fundraising plans, launch earned revenue businesses, and develop their boards.

Before earning her MBA from the Kellogg School at Northwestern University, Nell worked at PBS (public broadcasting) headquarters in D.C. managing $1 million+ corporate sponsorship accounts and strengthening PBS’s marketing initiatives. Prior to that, she led fundraising, marketing and board development efforts at the Oregon Children’s Foundation.

Entries by Nell Edgington

Is Crowdfunding for Social Change More Than Hype?

(0) Comments | Posted June 2, 2014 | 8:29 PM

Crowdfunding is quickly becoming the new shiny object in the world of social change. From Giving Days, to new giving platforms, to lots of articles and studies (here and here to start), it seems that crowdfunding is everywhere lately.


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Nonprofits, Leave Your Charity at the Door

(0) Comments | Posted April 16, 2014 | 1:44 PM

I hate the word "charity." Don't get me wrong, I'm not big on semantics. But "charity" is more than a word; it's a destructive mindset that keeps the work of social change sidelined and impoverished.

"Charity" harkens back to the beginnings of philanthropy, which was largely the purview of women...

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Why Do Nonprofit Leaders Get in Their Own Way?

(4) Comments | Posted February 4, 2014 | 7:36 PM

Can we talk about crazy for a minute?

I've recently witnessed some behavior from nonprofit leaders that made my jaw drop:

  • A board chairman convinced the rest of his board to turn away a donor who wanted to give the nonprofit a significant amount of money to fund organizational capacity...
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Nonprofits Must Stop Apologizing for Needing Money

(0) Comments | Posted December 19, 2013 | 12:33 PM

It becomes increasingly obvious to me that the nonprofit sector suffers from a lack of confidence. Centuries of being sidelined as "charities" while the real work of the world (business) took center stage has made the nonprofit sector continually apologize for the work they do and how they do it.

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5 Taboos Nonprofits Must Get Over

(2) Comments | Posted November 5, 2013 | 8:14 AM

Yep, it's true, the nonprofit sector doesn't have enough money. There are lots of reasons for that, but part of it stems from the taboos the nonprofit sector (and the staffs, boards and donors within it) perpetuates. But perhaps if we lay them bare, we can start to break free...

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How to Get Real With Nonprofit Donors

(0) Comments | Posted September 27, 2013 | 1:58 PM

It used to be that a nonprofit leader receiving a check from a donor would smile politely, say a big "thank you" and go on her way. But just as (seemingly) every aspect of the world as we know it is changing, so too is philanthropy. We are starting to...

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Will Millennials Shift How Money Flows to Social Change?

(2) Comments | Posted August 29, 2013 | 11:17 AM

There is a lot of talk lately about how the world is changing thanks to the Millennials, the demographic force of people born between 1981 and 2000 who promise to fundamentally change the world as we know it.

And they are already well on their way, from eschewing

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How the Board Can Really Step Up to the Fundraising Plate

(0) Comments | Posted July 8, 2013 | 3:10 PM

It's no secret that nonprofits struggle with money. In fact, the Nonprofit Finance Fund's most recent State of the Nonprofit Sector Survey found that 41% of nonprofit respondents ran a deficit in 2012. If we really want to rewrite this rule...

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Hard Questions Every Nonprofit Must Ask

(2) Comments | Posted May 29, 2013 | 5:01 PM

I'm a huge believer in questions. Sometimes asking good, hard questions is the only way to get to the bottom of something, to analyze potential options, to find the right path.

So too in the nonprofit sector hard questions can play a pivotal role. It is critically important that we...

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5 Reasons Your Nonprofit Isn't Raising Enough Money

(2) Comments | Posted April 22, 2013 | 6:22 PM

The majority of nonprofits struggle to bring money in the door. And they often don't know why. When you are on the inside of an organization that is used to doing things a certain way it can be nearly impossible to see new opportunities, to understand what you could do...

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The Nonprofit Sector Needs to Get Over the Fear Thing

(0) Comments | Posted March 25, 2013 | 1:06 PM

It needs to be said, and I'm going to say it. The nonprofit sector must get over the fear thing. The sector is known for being risk-averse, and that comes from a lack of resources. I get it.

But it's time to move beyond that. There are many different forms...

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From Nonprofit Scarcity to Social Change Abundance

(1) Comments | Posted February 12, 2013 | 8:58 PM

Bill Shore, founder of Share Our Strength, a nonprofit aimed at ending childhood hunger in America, wrote a really interesting post recently. He argues that nonprofits must be more bold, that the risk aversion that defines the sector is itself holding nonprofits back from creating change.

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5 Nonprofit Trends to Watch in 2013

(1) Comments | Posted January 1, 2012 | 4:34 AM

I started a tradition in December of 2010 with a blog post on the nonprofit trends to watch in the coming year. Keeping with that tradition, here is my take on the nonprofit trends for 2013 (you can read my nonprofit trends posts for 2011 and

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