BWF Historical Perspective

We‘re Proud of Our History

We‘re Proud of Our History

 

BWF has a strong history of innovation and impact. Through results-based methodology with a focus on organizational growth, BWF has helped thousands of organizations raise more money to further their missions.

The impact we make today is thanks to years of growth, team building, strategic planning, service advancement, and pushing the envelope. We are grateful that our three founders Bruce Flessner, Frank Benz, and John Whaley took action on their vision in 1983 to make the world a better place and serve nonprofits.

There are more milestones than we can count that make us who we are today. Here are just a few to help you understand our roots:

BWF

Since 1983

Statue of Liberty

In the very first year of its founding, BWF received a phone call from a friend who was consulting for Chrysler Corporation. The message was, “A gentleman is doing this campaign in New York … would you go out and see whether or not it’s going to succeed?” The gentleman was Lee Iacocca, and the campaign was for the now-legendary Statue of Liberty/Ellis Island restoration project. BWF stepped in and helped raise over $315 million, far surpassing the original $200 million goal. Ellis Island was restored to its rightful place in America’s landscape. With the founding pillars of innovation and industry thought leadership, this became the first of hundreds of projects that established BWF as a global leader in fundraising counsel, with ground-breaking and creative strategies to help institutions transform philanthropy.

1983
BWF

Pioneer in Prospect Research

APRA

The American Prospect Research Association, APRA, was founded in Minnesota, and BWF’s own Bobbie Strand was a founding member. Bobbie was also responsible for writing the first-ever book on prospect research, “Prospect Research: A How to Guide.” Bobbie, a partner with BWF from 1984-2008, is a nationally recognized leader in major gift and prospect development, capital campaign planning and implementation, major gift management, cultivation, and solicitation strategy development.

1987
BWF

Prospect Select

BWF develops Prospect Select, an electronic prospect selection tool that was one of the first wealth screening tools in fundraising.

1995
BWF

BWF’s 1st billion-dollar campaign

The University of Michigan launches its first billion dollar campaign with the support of BWF.

2000
BWF

Analytics Consulting

Josh Birkholz

Josh Birkholz joined BWF and launched the first analytics consulting practice in fundraising, establishing data science at more than 100 institutions.

2004
BWF

BWF’s 10th billion-dollar campaign

UC Berkeley’s, with $3.13 billion raised.

2005
BWF

DonorCast

BWF established its expertise in supporting fundraising operations by launching the DonorCast division, which focused specifically on advancing prospect research, analytics, and digital strategy for nonprofits.

2006
BWF

Fundraising AnalyticsJosh Birkholz authored “Fundraising Analytics: Using Data to Guide Strategy,” the seminal book on fundraising analytics.

2008
BWF

The “Great Give”

BWF partnered with Florida State University on the first university giving day, the “Great Give,” a year before Giving Tuesday was launched. That same year, BWF provides counsel for UCLA Health Science’s $2 billion campaign, the largest at a public academic health center.

January 2012
BWF

BWF served as counsel to the largest public university campaign at the time when the University of Michigan publicly launched its $4 billion campaign, ultimately raising over $5 billion.

2013
BWF
Katrina Klaproth and Mark Marshall

Katrina Klaproth and Mark Marshall join the BWF principal team.

2016
BWF

With BWF serving as campaign counsel, Colby College went public with its $750 million campaign, the largest liberal arts campaign at the time.

2017
BWF

BWF partnered with the University of Sydney Australia, which announced it had reached its $1 billion philanthropic goal following its INSPIRED campaign. This achievement marked the first billion-dollar campaign launched in Australia, and at the time, the most successful campaign of any university in the nation.

January 2019
BWF

A new CEO

Josh Birkholz steps into new role as the firm’s CEO. Bruce Flessner, company founder and principal, stepped down from his role as principal after 36 years of service.

March 2019
BWF

Boston Children’s Hospital completes its $1.5 billion Dream Dare Deliver campaign, the first campaign of a billion dollars at a children’s hospital.

September 2019
BWF

Groundwork Digital

BWF acquired Groundwork Digital, the pioneering innovator of high‐touch digital communications for transformational giving. This acquisition laid the foundation for {{firstname}}, the first of its kind partnership in the nonprofit sector between BWF and Hubbub.

2019
Movie

Officially BWF

The firm officially announced its rebranded identity as BWF. This shortened brand name reflects an appreciation and respect for the firm’s founding while also representing the ambitious vision for the future. BWF moves forward as an organization of expanding services, growing diversity, and depth of expertise, together united under one identity to empower each client and mission.

January 2020
BWF
{{firstname}}

{{firstname}} launched, focusing on advancing enterprise-wide nonprofit giving days, connecting donors and gift officers through personalized video marketing via its Digital Development Officer programs, and increasing participation through modern, video-driven Student Engagement Teams.

February 2021
BWF
Salesforce Partner

BWF joins Saleforce.org partner program as an official partner.

March 2021
Movie

{{firstname}} Launches Mercury Platform

August 2022
BWF

BWF joins Slate Preferred Partner Program

Slate

BWF becomes part of the Slate Preferred Partner Program, supporting the Slate for Advancement product service area.

2022
BWF

BWF expands its suite of predictive analytics and campaign insight tools through a dynamic and customizable integration with IBM Watson, the industry-leading developer of AI Solutions.

2023
BWF

Book Release

BWF’s releases book “Modern Campaign Planning: Insights & Impact” provides an expansive look into modern fundraising campaigns.

2023
BWF
FundMiner

BWF invests in Fundminer partnership, the first-to-market, AI-powered platform provides the most effective solution for fundraising organizations to track their funds and achieve maximum impact as they fulfill their missions.

2023
BWF

Celebrates 40 years

2023 marked the 40th anniversary of BWF, the trusted partner to nonprofits across the United States and abroad. With four decades of growth, innovations, and success, BWF has helped thousands of organizations raise more money to further their missions.

2023
BWF

aasp, BWF, and Lindauer Global Release Results of 2023 Advancement Services Career and Salary Survey.

2023
BWF
Heavy

BWF enters into a partnership with Heavy Content Studios.

2023
BWF

Announced a new division within the company dedicated to addressing the present engagement challenges and reversing the decline in generosity, Engagement and Donor Experience.

2023
BWF
Xapien

BWF enters a partnership with Xapien, a marketing-leading Artificial Intelligence tool enabling philanthropic organizations to raise funds securely and at speed by harnessing the latest Natural Language Processing technologies.

2024

Let’s Connect

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