New firm guides nonprofits and their donors

By:Velvet SpicerAugust 2, 2019

Funding is the bane of many nonprofits’ existence, resulting in the added challenge of maximizing their impact on the community. A new consulting firm strives to alleviate that problem.

Empreinte Consulting LLC was founded in October last year by Marc Misiurewicz, a 10-year veteran of development at University of Rochester and Rochester Regional Health. As president and founder, Misiurewicz said he and Executive Vice President and Partner Carrie Piraino Donnelly got into development because they wanted to help the community flourish. The duo worked together for years before Empreinte opened.

“We saw throughout our time in development a real need, specifically in the nonprofit community, but also in the philanthropic community, for guidance,” he explained. “There were a lot of organizations and individual donors who weren’t being guided in the philanthropic space, whether they were receiving gifts or making gifts, to move a mission forward.”

Empreinte’s goal is to partner with nonprofit organizations, philanthropists, family foundations and corporations to guide them through the philanthropic process and leverage the new company’s expertise—gleaned from their experience with two of the largest nonprofits in Rochester—to help them have the greatest impact locally.

“Through Marc’s and my experience, we’re pretty aware of what’s going on, whether it be a programmatic project or capital needs, so we’re really trying to align people in this community,” Donnelly said.

Clients include organizations such as Mary Cariola Children’s Center, Hillside Family of Agencies, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and others. Any 501(c)3 is a potential client, as are individual donors and corporations looking to give back.

“So many companies in this region are giving to nonprofits and to our community, but really have no direction or strategic thought behind that giving, so we saw a great opportunity to take our experience and support those entities in a way that would have the greatest impact in this community,” Misiurewicz explained.

Development experience is a growing need for philanthropists, Misiurewicz said.

“What struck us, since I started this in October, is the demand for services,” he said. “What we found is in the nonprofit sector there are challenges as far as recruiting and retaining top development talent. So the idea of outsourcing services relating to development for nonprofits is a very high need.”

So high, in fact, that Misiurewicz served as interim chief advancement officer for Hillside for several months during a leadership transition.

“What we’re finding is whether it’s training gifts officers, supporting operational infrastructure of the nonprofit, providing strategic advisory services for the CEOs in nonprofits, there really is a significant need,” he added. “And the fact that we’ve worked for the two largest nonprofits in the community, we really can help bring best practices, efficiencies and maximize the resources that these nonprofits have.”

Empreinte’s nonprofit consulting services run the gamut from strategic partnership with executive leadership to create a development strategy to functioning as interim chief development officers to training of development staff and more. Database support services are available, as is training and coaching of campaign volunteers and campaign feasibility studies.

On the giving side, for individuals and private or family foundations Empreinte will create a philanthropic vision, formulate a giving strategy and partner with a client’s financial advisor, estate attorney or CPA to develop a holistic approach to philanthropic decision-making.

“On the philanthropic side, this is really new to donors,” Misiurewicz said. “In cities like New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, there are more philanthropic advisers. It’s new in Rochester. We’re still educating donors as to the value proposition, the impact we can have and how partnering with us can really create a higher level of efficiency in their giving.”

Empreinte is finding that philanthropic families are in need of coaching the next generation of givers, Donnelly said.

“They’re extremely philanthropic and it was embedded into their values, and what they’re finding is the second or third generation, there’s a real disconnect there,” she explained.

Businesses and corporate foundations are offered assistance in the creation of a philanthropic mission statement, as well as partnerships between Empreinte and their marketing, community relations or foundation director to vet philanthropic requests from nonprofits. Empreinte helps corporations create a philanthropic strategy and identifies ways in which the organization can provide non-monetary support to advance their mission.

With Misiurewicz and Donnelly at the helm, Empreinte also has three contract-based consultants advising clients. Both say the company has “significant” growth potential.

“Our three to five-year plan is to grow regionally and even nationally,” Misiurewicz said. “Right now, we’re leveraging relationships in this community that we’ve built to help the community we’ve lived in our entire lives.”

Donnelly said Empreinte’s leaders are sensitive to the fact that not-for-profits have shallow pockets and limited budgets. With just two full-time advisers—herself and Misiurewicz—the company is able to keep fees low, she said.

“We’re really mindful of that because we’ve lived it, we’ve had to raise the money before and build the organization, so we’re very community conscious and socially conscious to do the right thing,” she added.

Misiurewicz is half French and thus chose Empreinte—the French word for footprint—as the agency’s name because he connects with the French culture.

“And the word ‘footprint’ summarizes in my mind what philanthropy can do,” he explained. “It leaves a mark on this Earth, whether you’re a nonprofit supporting an important mission or an individual giving of yourself to support that mission, you leave a footprint, you leave a mark on this Earth.”