For more than 15 years Mike has successfully implemented event fundraising programs at both the local and national level. Mike’s experience includes two of the largest international health organizations — March of Dimes and JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation). At March of Dimes, Mike headed corporate programs/partnerships. During Mike’s tenure WalkAmerica (now Walk for Babies), doubled its’ national corporate revenue to more than $10 million annually. At JDRF Mike served as Vice President and headed both event and DIY fundraising efforts that raised over $1 billion during a 10-year period. This also included launching new integrated online data systems that fostered new revenue streams, resulting in millions of additional fundraising dollars. Currently, Mike consults for both large and small non-profits, assessing event fundraising programs and developing strategies to improve registration, retention and overall revenue growth.
Professional Event Career
Prior to Mike’s non-profit career he launched his own event management company eventually being acquired by Grey Advertising, now part of WPP Group, the world’s largest advertising agency. During this tenure Mike created a number of national promotions for a variety of well-known companies including M&M/Mars, Dannon, General Foods (Grape-Nuts & Sanka) and Proctor & Gamble. Promotions included a concert series for Verizon featuring Aretha Franklin, a series of hot air balloon festivals and various concerts that included Hootie & the Blowfish, Blues Traveler and Willie Nelson. His sports expertise included many national and international sports events like the Olympic Games, World Championships and National Championships. Additionally, Mike developed national sports promotions including a national beach volleyball series for Jose Cuervo, launched multi-sport (cycling/running) for Coors Light, cross-country skiing events for Timex Watches and the first national mountain bike racing series in the U.S. for Gant Clothing.
Mike’s career began as an athlete, growing up in a sports household (His father was an All-American football player and hall of fame coach in New Jersey). As a three sport standout in high school, Mike secured a division 1 wrestling scholarship competing at the varsity level for four years, was captain of the team for two years and won numerous events and awards. But due to the grueling physical nature of the sport and mounting injuries, Mike transitioned to the sport of cycling as way to train and stay in shape. Through local contacts with Olympic cyclists he was encouraged to switch sports and within a year was competing at the international level, eventually representing the U.S. in international competitions. Unfortunately, his goal of competing in the Olympics never came to fruition as the U.S. boycotted the 1980 Olympics scheduled in the former Soviet Union.
Retiring from the competitive side of the sport, Mike was offered the opportunity to manage the top track cycling (velodrome) facility in North America. So began his career in event management and learning (through trial and error) how to successfully produce events, secure sponsors and attract paying customers. For the next several years Mike was one of the top cycling promoters in the country and played a prominent role in cycling at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games. Organizing the four-year program for track cycling, Mike produced the National Championships, an international track racing series (to prepare U.S. cyclists) and the U.S. Olympic trials. The U.S. won a record 9 Olympic cycling medals, tops for all countries and the first Olympic medals won by the U.S. cycling team since 1912! Mike has also served on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, producing recreational cycling programs, was a founding member of the U.S. Cycling Hall of Fame and serves on a local New Jersey Sports Hall of Fame.
“One of my greatest experiences was working with the head of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness, George Allen. The Washington Redskins’ hall of fame football coach demonstrated the leadership qualities and ability to motivate people to support his vision of a healthier America. This included gaining the backing of President Ronald Reagan to fund the President’s Council on Physical Fitness. Working with George, I had the pleasure to present to the Congressional oversight committee for the President’s Council and meet President Reagan.”
Transition to Non-profit Fundraising
During Mike’s tenure in the sports marketing business, he was approached to produce a golf fundraiser for the United Negro College Fund, hosted by Bryant Gumbel. Partnering with Disney World, the event featured hall of fame athletes from a variety of sports and the first year raised over $700,000. The rest is history, as Mike was able to transition many of the professional event standards to non-profit events — improving execution, driving new revenue, increasing participation and enhancing bottom line efficiencies. After 15 years as a non-profit executive Mike “retired” from JDRF at the end of 2012. Wanting to remain in the industry, Mike began consulting and is now devoting his efforts to supporting young fundraising professionals facing the same challenges that Mike encountered when he started producing events.