Embracing Kinship as a Nonprofit Leader (Charlie Elberson, Diane Gavarkavich, Whitney Feld)

April 2021

When a prospective funder asks you how to define success for your nonprofit, how do you answer? It seems like a straightforward question, but it usually leads to the more important question: how do you know if you've achieved it?  These questions lead to a fascinating conversation with Charlie Elberson and Diane Gavarkavich about the funder perspective, the importance of measurement and outcomes, and the fundamentals of kinship that will help you make your case.  Charlie's groundbreaking Reemprise Fund has been on the cutting edge of venture philanthropy, and is encouraging nonprofit leaders to take calculated risks and embrace kinship not just for the funding it might generate, but simply because it's the right thing to do.  Thanks to Whitney Feld at the Foundation For The Carolinas for putting this episode together!


"Nonprofit leaders must answer two fundamental questions: How do we define success?  How do we know if we achieve it?"


Charlie Elberson is a 35+-year ad agency veteran, he helps Wray Ward, Charlotte's largest agency, create brilliant marketing and branding strategies for their clients. He began his career in New York with stints at Leber Katz Partners (now FCB) and Young & Rubicam, during which he introduced the enduring Peanuts campaign for MetLife. He also worked with companies and brands including AT&T International, RJR Nabisco and Campbell Soup. On top of that, for the last 12 years he's been the Trustee of Reemprise Fund, making game-changing grants for visionary non-profits using a venture philanthropy model. Since 2008, Reemprise Fund has distributed over $7 million in grants to dozens of non-profits. So wide-ranging are the interests and outcomes that Reemprise pursues that Charlie was named the Outstanding Champion of Diversity by the Charlotte chapter of Association of Fundraising Professionals for 2015. 

Diane Gavarkavich is the founder and principal consultant of DTG Community Services. A community researcher and program evaluator, she primarily works with non-profit organizations to evaluate their processes, outcomes, and impact. She has previously worked as a high school algebra teacher and, most recently, as Director of Research Services for the UNC Charlotte Urban Institute. Diane holds a B.S. and Ed.D. from Vanderbilt University as well as an MPH and nonprofit leadership certificate from UNC Chapel Hill. Diane serves on the boards of McClintock Partners In Education and Generation Nation and is an adjunct professor at Queens University of Charlotte. 

Whitney Feld serves as Vice President of Philanthropic Advancement at Foundation For The Carolinas. During her tenure at FFTC, most of her client work has been with individuals and families on current gifting strategies, legacy planning, and multi-generational family engagement and grantmaking. She holds a B.F.A from Miami University, an M.S.T from Pace University, and a J.D. from the Charleston School of Law. While in law school Whitney worked for the Coastal Community Foundation, South Carolina's largest community foundation. Whitney is a member of the American Bar Association, the North Carolina Bar Association and currently sits on the Board of the Mint Museum of Art Collections and is Chair of Arts for Life. She previously served as Treasurer of the North Carolinas Association of Women Attorneys. She recently completed her CFP certification at Queens University.