We’re seasoned leaders like you
Here to enhance your mission
As a nonprofit leader, you’re up to something big. Every day, you and your team work hard to make the world a better place. You believe in the power of your mission to change peoples’ lives, and, yes, you are making a difference. It lights you up.
We get it—because each of us at Rainmaker has been in your seat. Whether you’re an executive director, development director, or a board member—we’ve been there. And that’s why we can help you find the ways to work smarter, build a Culture of Philanthropy, and achieve your organization’s boldest vision.
We’re four dynamic and passionate coaches with collective experience in local, national, and international NGOs in areas that include—but are certainly not limited to—education, the arts, human services, faith, political and progressive advocacy, foundations, hunger and poverty, and gender equity.
We’re experts in Fundraising Strategy, Leadership Development, Strategic Planning, and Foundation Strategies. Since 2002, we have helped hundreds of organizations collectively raise over $250 million. We can empower your board and staff to imagine dynamic goals that are attainable and relevant.
We’ll start by simply getting to know you, your organization, and your team.
Laurie Herrick, Founder and President, has a passion for the nonprofit world that began with activism around ending hunger and poverty and led to excellence in coaching and training leadership teams. She’s an adept listener and a rugged athlete.
I founded Rainmaker in 2002 to help nonprofit organizations build a Culture of Philanthropy and to cause breakthroughs in the ways they think, plan, collaborate, relate to supporters, lead, and fundraise.
Early in my career, I ran a multimillion-dollar wholesale distribution company, and my involvement with the not-for-profit world was focused primarily on activism dedicated to ending the root causes of hunger and poverty. I’m now a veteran fundraiser and organizational development consultant, and I believe deeply in the power of coaching. I’ve provided fundraising training for boards and development professionals, coaching on capital campaigns and planned giving programs, and executive coaching and strategic planning. My work has helped raise tens of millions of dollars for nonprofit organizations across the country.
For the last 10 years, my portfolio has also included providing similar services to Jewish overnight and day camps through my role as a mentor with the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s JCamp180 program. One aspect of that work includes leading a program called GIFT, a year-long class for development professionals.
I hold a bachelor’s degree from Hartwick College in Oneonta, New York, and learned much from early fundraising mentors Lynne Twist, author of The Soul of Money, and Terry Axelrod, who created Benevon. I am honored to have been trained by two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates: Al Gore in climate change, and Muhammad Yunus in the Grameen Bank micro-lending model.
When I’m not working, I like to blow glass, run, hike, swim, and spend time with my family, especially our new grandbaby, Gabe. I also practice what I preach, working with a coach of my own to improve my swim stroke.
Beth Spong, Vice President, is a well-regarded catalyst for change with an extensive history as a nonprofit leader, entrepreneur, and trainer. She is witty, insightful, and accomplished in all her pursuits.
I’ve been a leader in the nonprofit domain for 30 years, first as a board member and volunteer, and then as a professional, in roles that include founder, development director, chief operating officer, executive director, leadership coach, and consultant. Experience in the trenches and on the mountaintops of nonprofit management allow me to consult and coach others from an informed point of view.
Before becoming a consultant, I owned a successful complementary health care business and was a respected national trainer of medical professionals. As executive director of MotherWoman in Hadley, Massachusetts, from 2008 to 2013, I launched a fundraising program, tripled annual revenue, and led the organization into national recognition in maternal mental health. At The Care Center in Holyoke, Massachusetts, in the director of donor relations seat, I had the opportunity to partner with my colleague, Laurie Herrick, in managing a year-round donor engagement program and legendary annual event.
My ongoing work with Treehouse in Easthampton, Massachusetts, has been a catalyst to triple the donor base, double organizational revenue, and increase impact and visibility from the local to national level.
I bring passion and insight to my coaching, and wit and wisdom as a presenter. I believe in nonprofit excellence to change the world, and the power of joyful philanthropy to make that possible. These qualities, combined with expertise and vision, have been central to increasing regional and national profiles and significantly expanding revenue.
A proud graduate of Mount Holyoke College, I’m an avid cyclist, a novice triathlete, and a lover of art, singing, and gardening. And I’m madly in love with my awesome, kind, and quirky husband, David Burton.
Eric Phelps, Principal, can crack a joke or turn a phrase, but his heart and mind are committed to the intricacies of executive leadership. His experience includes work with foundations, and he’s trained in American Sign Language.
I like to say I’m committed to putting the “zing” in “fundraising.” My ability to do so comes from my more than 30 years of experience in nonprofit management—in executive leadership, fundraising, human resources, program development, conference planning, and strategic oversight.
Prior to joining Rainmaker, I served as vice president of development for VentureWell of Hadley, Massachusetts. During my tenure. I was part of a team that increased annual revenue from $4-$10 million. And I collaborated with senior leadership to help secure more than $30 million, including new funding from the National Science Foundation, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Intel Foundation, and USAID.
I have also served as director of the Grinspoon Institute for Jewish Philanthropy’s JCamp 180, a program of the Harold Grinspoon Foundation in western Massachusetts. Other roles have included executive director of the New Art Center of Newton, Massachusetts, executive director of VSA arts of Georgia, and development director of IMAGE Film & Video Center of Atlanta, Georgia.
I’ve consulted with numerous nonprofits in organizational development, board development, fundraising strategy, and strategic planning, and have written a book, If Money Can Fix It (It's Not the Problem), due out soon.
I hold a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Massachusetts and a degree in American Sign Language from Georgia Perimeter College. I enjoy writing music, reading, cycling, and spending time with my family.
David Sharken, Principal, has a diverse background in nonprofit leadership. He’s steady, thorough, and leads with clear vision, skill, and experience. David relishes being outdoors in all seasons and loves being a grandparent of a spunky grand-daughter.
I have led a variety of organizations in roles including executive director, development and program director, organizational development consultant, and executive coach. Additionally, I’ve served as senior director for two private national foundations as well as an active board member for a number of nonprofits.
Prior to joining Rainmaker, I was the director of partnerships for a national foundation, The Proteus Fund in Amherst, Massachusetts, and director of the Camp Legacy Initiative and mentor for the Harold Grinspoon Foundation’s JCamp180. As executive director of The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts for 12 years, the organization grew from a staff of 12 and a $1 million budget to a 45-member team with an $8 million budget, and I helped create The Food Bank Farm and other innovative programs that received national acclaim.
Having provided strategic guidance to successful major donor campaigns ranging from $500,000 to $18 million, I believe that fundraising campaigns can not only raise necessary dollars, but can elevate organizations to new heights through clear vision, effective leaders, and developing strong relationships with donors.
I earned a bachelor’s degree in organizational development from the University of Michigan and hold a master's degree from Claremont Graduate School in Public Policy Analysis.
I live in Amherst with my partner, acupuncturist Verena Smith. I have two adult children, and am the proud "Babu" of a spunky granddaughter. My hobbies include cross-country skiing, biking, and foraging for wild mushrooms and other edibles.