Ellen Cokinos Consulting for Nonprofits

To Serve, Strengthen and Sustain

Case Studies

River Oaks Baptist School “for children forever” Endowment Campaign

Honoring Dr. Nancy Heath Hightower

Since 1955, River Oaks Baptist School (R.O.B.S.) has been giving Houston’s students from age two through eighth grade a firm foundation for life – academically, morally, spiritually, physically and socially.

In December of 2010, Ellen Cokinos Consulting was privileged to be selected by the leadership of R.O.B.S. to conduct an assessment of their community for a potential fundraising campaign. Subsequently, R.O.B.S. leadership called upon Ellen Cokinos Consulting as fundraising counsel for the “for children forever” Endowment Campaign Honoring Dr. Nancy Heath Hightower.

Within one year, a $15 million benchmark was met and the campaign extended to a goal of $20 million. At the close of 18 months, nearly $21 million was raised and a permanent endowment structure was established for R.O.B.S.

Efforts began with a three-month, multifaceted evaluation of the school’s internal and external community to determine viability for a successful endowment campaign.

In addition to working with the R.O.B.S. leadership, advancement staff and board, Ellen Cokinos Consulting took the unconventional step of conducting an independent and confidential assessment through face-to-face meetings with 60 constituents, including past donors, alumni and other key constituents. These sessions revealed perceptions of the school, its future and interest in a potential endowment campaign. Within 60 days of engagement, Ellen Cokinos Consulting provided recommendations and an action plan, which included:

  • Executive coaching to Campaign Chair, staff and volunteer committees on all requests, along with written talking points
  • Working closely with Head of School, Campaign Chair and Development Team to review and guide volunteer leadership involvement
  • Drafting of extensive gift-acceptance policy
  • Creation of a customized campaign that endowed programs and facilities at R.O.B.S.
  • Development of campaign marketing materials
  • Drafting of campaign case statement

Serving in the capacity of executive consultant and resource to the R.O.B.S. board, executive management and volunteer leadership, Ellen Cokinos Consulting orchestrated a great number of tactics and strategies associated with donor prospecting, leadership preparation, evaluation of internal development resources, donation projections and formulation of proposals. One such proposal resulted in a gift of $5 million, the largest gift ever given to the school.

Further, Ellen Cokinos Consulting also spearheaded several especially innovative campaign-building strategies, including “in-services’ for Honorary, Advancement and Campaign Steering Committee parent volunteers, coaching members on campaign strategy and key message points.

Rounding out the campaign with persistent proposal follow-up strategies and design of donor-recognition programs and celebration events, Ellen Cokinos Consulting helped R.O.B.S. successfully reach the initial fundraising goal of $15 million in one year. Such success extended the relationship between R.O.B.S. and Ellen Cokinos Consulting, with both focused on a new goal of $20 million. In only 18 months, nearly $21 million was raised and a permanent endowment structure was created for R.O.B.S.

Learn More about River Oaks Baptist School

“I like to call Ellen Cokinos a 'fundraising phenom', but she has meant so much more to Wesley and to me – as a trusted advisor, empathetic executive coach, practical board trainer, and insightful strategic planner.”

Diana Garbis,
Executive Director, Wesley Community Center, Houston, Texas.