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Reach for the Stars: The 2014 Fundraising Professionals of the Year Awards Winners

As luck would have it, they're right at your fingertips. Announcing the winners of the 2014 Fundraising Professionals of the Year Awards.

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As always, choosing the winners in our annual Fundraising Professionals of the Year Awards was a heart-wrenching decision. So many worthy nominees. And so many others who weren't nominated.

And as always, we chose winners based not only on numbers or specific fundraising victories, but also on the way they contribute to the sector as a whole, an attitude or approach that stands out as particularly beneficial — the educators, innovators, risk-takers and rise-abovers.

Here are this year's winners. We'd like to thank everyone who took the time to nominate someone. And thank you, also, to our winners for your uncompromising dedication and professionalism, and for your outstanding, continuing contributions to the fundraising sector.


Matthew Fieldman,

board president

EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute

It's rare that a startup nonprofit can raise more than $400,000 in capital campaign funds in one year. It's even more rare when that fundraising is for an idea and that startup nonprofit barely exists. That's what happened with EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute, which opened its doors for business Nov. 1, 2013, after a capital campaign that ran just nine months.

According to founder and CEO Brandon Chrostowski, it was Matt Fieldman's daring and unconventional leadership that took the dream of a nonprofit restaurant dedicated to helping formerly incarcerated men and women learn skills in fine dining and made it a reality.

The story of EDWINS — short for "Education Wins" — began when Fieldman partnered with Chrostowski in 2010. Chrostowski, who ran a trendy Cleveland restaurant, wanted to give back by launching his own culinary school dedicated to helping ex-offenders get their lives back on track. Fieldman, after 13 years of fundraising in the nonprofit world, wanted to launch a social enterprise that wouldn't have to rely on fundraising to make ends meet. The two assembled a board of committed volunteers who got to work talking up the organization, making connections, and raising the money necessary to launch a full-scale restaurant and culinary school.

Chrostowski says it took a lot of explaining to foundations and donors that EDWINS was indeed a registered 501(c)3 and that the training and business went hand in hand as part of the social mission. The board began meeting in 2011 and started planning events for 2012. A garden party friend-raiser in the summer of 2012 attracted 100 of Cleveland's business leaders to learn about EDWINS. Then a small fundraising effort in autumn 2012 brought in $15,000 to pay for basic expenses.



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