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Ken Phillips
Civil Society Strategist, 
Consultant, Mentor, Author
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Ken Phillips has devoted his life to working with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) in the United States, Eastern and Western Europe, and other regions of the world. On this website and in his books, he shares what he has learned in sixty years. His research includes work as fundraiser and executive, consulting with some sixty clients, scores of three-day workshops, and thousands of semi-structured interviews with NGO executives, fundraisers, board members, donors, and evaluators on what makes a nonprofit succeed and what makes it fail.

As a youth, he was fascinated by the stories of heroes in history, literature, and mythology and was guided by the values he learned at church. The guidance from his parents was formative. His businessman dad often said: “Whatever you do, do it well.” His more spiritual mom always said: “Whatever you do, do something good.” Ken later said: “My career was destined.”

Ken’s career as fundraiser and executive leader


As a student at Princeton, he fundraised two paid traineeship offers for foreign students and as a leader he motivated and trained other students to raise six more traineeship offers. As a graduate student at University of Michigan, he founded the AIESEC committee and trained students to raise seven traineeship offers and then chaired the national conference raising $25,000 ($253,000 in 2024 currency! Based on CPI increases according to for travel and accommodations for 100 students from around the country. Then as the elected National President, he led a doubling of university local committees and increased traineeship offers by 50% in two years between 1964 and 1966.

As Project Development Coordinator and Fundraiser at the Institute of International Education, he developed new international study programs called Project City Streets for African Americans and new programs for international students in the US and secured funding from the Ford Foundation and others for its implementation. He developed and oversaw a successful 50th anniversary campaign, engaged key staff in supporting the fundraising planning and outreach with resulting funding from corporations, individuals, foundations, universities, volunteers, and events for a mortgage burning and innovative programs ($18.5 million in 2024 currency).

As VP for Fundraising at Save the Children US, he drafted its first fundraising strategic plan and implemented a complete rebranding. He drafted a new program strategy that was also effective for fundraising, improved direct mail and media advertising with excellent results, and then convinced the Program VP to transfer a significant amount from his budget to expand fundraising for two years that would significantly increase total revenues and the program budget (it worked). He put in place a new advertising code of ethics with five other charities. He quadrupled public awareness and tripled income to $22.7 million in 10 years ($72.8 million in 2024 currency).

As Executive Director at Plan International USA, he launched successive strategic plans for fundraising with strong support from other staff, proposed growth-oriented three-year fundraising budgets and goals and exceeded each one. He supervised 100 HQ staff, professionalized fundraising and donor service staff, transformed the board with new members with expertise in fundraising, marketing, market research, finance, and program, and then created a prestigious honorary board. With excellent staff, he refined test marketing for new copy, reply devices, and media, tested different price levels for monthly giving, initiated new marketing methods (2 minute TV ads, 2 hour celebrity hosted telethons, and ‘each one reach one’ for new sponsors), developed ‘lifetime value’ of new donors based on data that improved acquisition and retention, and oversaw new education programs that increased donor retention. Overall results were a quadrupling of public awareness and a tripling of revenues to $30 million in 10 years ($66 million in 2024 currency).

At the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) as a consultant in Uganda and Belarus, he helped them expand capacities and grow revenues. As a lecturer in fundraising and leadership for global leaders, he increased understanding of strategies and skills needed for growth and development. As Head of Organizational Development, he drafted new theory for National Society development, supervised a dozen graduate student interns, provided comprehensive guidance documents, succeeded to develop IFRC and ICRC common approaches to support National Societies grow and develop, and laid the basis for a subsequent international board resolution which required strong integrity assessments, peer review, and possible sanctions (loss of membership), all to improve the image, impact and fundraising of its 190 National Societies.

Consulting and training through NGO Futures LLC

Ken Phillips launched his consulting and training career for NGOs in 1994 in Geneva, Switzerland, for new NGOs supporting orphans in Eastern European eight countries. Building on his experience and success as fundraiser, executive, and board member, he established NGO Futures LLC in 1995 to support for NGOs around the world. Over the next three decades, he provided consulting for 60 clients on five continents and hundreds of trainings for NGO fundraisers and executives from more than 100 countries, always with a priority on capacity building and fundraising development as well as ethics. His theme is “Working Together for a Better World through Strategy, Teamwork, and Leadership.”

Over two decades, he took American best practice in leadership, fundraising, and management to fundraisers and other executives of new NGOs in former Soviet countries who had little to no experience with nonprofits and civil society and knew very little about their new professional work in fundraising and management – thousands of people trained in hundreds of three-day workshops in these 18 countries.

At Medicines for Malaria, he guided the staff and board to a quadrupling of income in 3 years ($5 million to $20 million) and $60 million a few years later based on his training. In addition to effective strategic planning for fundraising, one key step was when program staff learned they could help in fundraising, they began making connections and finding leads at global health conferences with major donors.

For CARE International, he consulted with staff in fundraising strategies, guided CARE Japan in initiating new private-sector fundraising, trained field personnel in Asia in their responsibilities for fundraising, and researched new fundraising potential in several European countries.

He provided training in fundraising and related organizational development for participants ranging from 20 to 70 in sessions for Ukrainian Institute of Professional Fundraising, Romanian Civil Society Development Federation, Connecticut Association of Nonprofits, Mexican YZ Proyextos de Dessarrallo, CPAs in Puerto Rico for their NGO clients, and others.

He had numerous repeat assignments from USAID and IREX, Swedish International Development Agency, Catholic Relief/Caritas, Forums for NGO from Black Sea countries, HelpAge International, International Red Cross, International Youth Foundation, National Center for Healthy Housing, SOS Childrens Villages, and others. For United Nations Family Planning Association, he developed and introduced a new private fundraising strategy.

Ken’s work as volunteer and association leader

He served on advisory committees for AIESEC Alumni Association, Brown University Hunger Briefing, Bryant College Nonprofit Curricula, Standards for Excellence Program of the Maryland Association of Nonprofit Organizations, Ukrainian Professional Fundraising Association, and – most notably – Standards Review Panels for the BBB Wise Giving Alliance in 1978-82 and again in 1999-2003.

He was elected to the Rhode Island Constitutional Convention in 1986 where he served as secretary of the Committee on Ethics and proposed the wording for a powerful and independent Ethics Commission that the voters approved 2-to-1. Then as a board member of Common Cause RI, he successfully promoted implementation of the Constitutional Amendment that a leading analyst called the strongest Ethics Commission in the US.

As a board member and then board chairperson at InterAction, the association of 190 US nonprofit organizations working internationally with $15 billion in revenues, Ken pioneered the first membership-wide strategic planning, oversaw a fundraising study for international programs, initiated successful advocacy supporting USAID funding, secured membership endorsement for the child rights convention, and initiated and led a committee that drafted a comprehensive code of ethics that was unanimously approved by its members.

Elected to chair its board, Ken transformed the all-volunteer West Broadway Neighborhood Association (WBNA) in Providence, RI, initiating community-based strategic planning, expanding participation of neighbors 10-fold, increasing its income from $5,000 to $120,000 in one year, and receiving the Providence Mayor’s commendation as outstanding community leader. Years later WBNA named its most prestigious annual award after him.

Later in Boston, he founded and chaired GreeningRozzie, a community environmental organization, and led its community-based strategic planning process. In its first year of activity, it received the Mayor of Boston's prize as the best environmental nonprofit in the city.

He was also Board Member of the Alliance for Nonprofit Governance (New York), Bureau Member of the NGO/UNICEF Committee for Children in CEE and NIS (Geneva), and Board Chair of International Service Agencies (Washington, DC). He lectured at Simmons College, Suffolk University, University of Moldova, and Ukrainian Catholic University in fundraising and leadership and was keynote speaker at national fundraising associations and other conferences in many countries.

In 2019, Ken received AIESEC’s 70th Anniversary Award as "Global Peacebuilder" for contributing to its vision of Peace and Fulfillment of Humankind. In 2021, he received WBNA’s top award for “enormous contributions to a local NGO, its neighborhood, the city, and in this case THE WORLD for his work with community associations.” In 2024, he received the top award from the Association of Fundraising Professionals as the AFP 2024 Outstanding Fundraising Professional of the Year.

Ken has an undergraduate degree from Princeton University in English Literature and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan in Global Literature and New York University in Economics. He believes that the great books provide an extraordinary education in communications, history, leadership, management, marketing, psychology, sociology, and values, while economics is important to understand business, development, politics, poverty, racism, revolutions, and struggles between groups. Ken's advice is to read widely in literature and current events to boost your fundraising!

AIESEC award

Peacebuilder award for “building NGOs as significant contributors to ‘peace and fulfillment of humankind’s potential‘“ by AIESEC, the youth leadership organization active in 130 countries.

From the Morristown Beard School

From the Morristown Beard School for his leadership as a volunteer to establish new fundraising programs for alumni and raise more than $250,000 from his class reunion.

WBNA Award to Ken Phillips

Ken was a founding member of the WBNA who served as board president in the early 1990s. WBNA thanks Ken for what his early work helped spawn, laying the foundation for the organization we would become as we continue to learn, grow and create a better world in our piece of it, the neighborhood." Kari Lang, Executive Director, West Broadway Neighborhood Association (WBNA).

Common Cause

Citation for his work “to champion the principles of honest government” while serving in the state 1986 Constitutional Conventional and drafting the most powerful ethics commission in the country.

Ken with AFP Award

Recipient of the 2024 AFP Outstanding Fundraising Professional Award for my lifetime of work as fundraiser, executive, board chair, consultant, mentor, and author at the annual conference of largest fundraising association in the world with 3,000 people cheering as AFP's CEO-elect of AFP concluded his introduction with something like "Join me in celebrating Ken's amazing career!"

From Board of InterAction

From Board of InterAction, the association of American NGOs working internationally, for his "leadership, commitment and vision as chairman of InterAction."


Proclamation by the Mayor of Providence, RI, for "invaluable service to the West Broadway Neighborhood Association and the City of Providence .... making the West Broadway Neighborhood an exciting, aesthetic, secure and happening place to live"

Father Flanagan's Boys Town Spirit of Youth Award

Father Flanagan's Boys Town Spirit of Youth Award for raising funds to help children throughout the world and "thus keeping hope alive in the hearts of the world’s needy children and youth"


leading the way in working with residents ... proving that individual efforts can create real and lasting change in our environment.

Ethics and Trust
Books for NGOs
Outstanding qualities

High school photo and profile noting "outstanding qualities of leadership, exceptional scholastic ability and athletic skill… and originator of many ideas which have greatly benefited the school"

Appreciation Plaque

Appreciation plaque by the staff of Save the Children in Korea for his support of rural community development programs and "hard work and guidance for the future progress of our program in Korea".

Childreach award

From the board and staff "for 11 years of outstanding leadership, commitment and success as president of Childreach, now called Plan International USA.

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