“Inside IPM” is a new series featuring the talented players who comprise the IPM Advancement team! Here you’ll learn all about the people who work behind the scenes at IPM to help nonprofits raise more money to make the world a better place. Today, we’re talking to…

Diana Gardner, VP of Client Development

Hi Diana, how long have you been working for IPM?
For seven years now.

Why did you choose IPM?
I’ve had the great fortune of working with [IPM co-founder] Jack Padovano in some capacity for the past 17 years, and when he presented me with this opportunity, I jumped at the chance. He can’t get away from me!

Where are you originally from?
Born and raised in Fort Myers, Florida but have lived in DC for 23 years now.

What are some of your favorite things about Fort Myers?
Sunsets, the beach, and my parents (they still live there).

When you started at IPM, what role did you play and how has your job evolved over the years?
I started at IPM managing and leading our marquee accounts. However, my role has since then moved into a more strategic consulting capacity for our clients — being able to offer them fundraising and communications solutions before they’re even able to realize they need them! I’d like to think I’m part marketing communications expert, part clairvoyant, and part psychologist. 🙂

What are some challenges or opportunities in fundraising strategy that you see on the horizon for nonprofits as they enter this new decade?
Two of the biggest challenges or opportunities that nonprofits will inevitably face in this new decade are an increase in accountability and the need for more manpower. With the power of viral and social communications, it’s critical now more than ever for nonprofits to outperform the highest of standards in terms of financial and donor services. It’s not enough to have high ratings from Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, etc. Nonprofits must go above and beyond to demonstrate fiscal responsibility and donor-facing service. I also think human capital will continue to be a challenge. With AI and other new technologies on the horizon, many human resource roles will prove to be redundant, eliminating manpower from what’s already a thin bench.

What do you love most about working with nonprofits?
I love working with people who are truly passionate about making the world a better place. Egos aside, they want to make a difference.

You’ve competed in several bodybuilding competitions. What drew you to get involved in bodybuilding?
I am an unapologetic gym rat (or meathead, depending upon who you ask). I get my inspiration from my father, who was a physician and professional bodybuilder when I was growing up. He is my hero and I’m so glad to be able to share this hobby with him. I love to train with him any chance I can get!

Are there any parallels between bodybuilding and nonprofit fundraising?
Absolutely! Both incorporate deadlines, a plan for execution, KPIs, and an end goal. With bodybuilding, you set forth your necessary timeline for contest prep (bodybuilding show), you come up with your meal plan and workout routines, you take measurements to assess your progress, and you step on stage for show time. With fundraising, you identify your fundraising timelines, come up with a multichannel fundraising plan, measure and analyze results, and meet/exceed your budgeted goal. So yeah, they’re similar. Who knew???

You were in corporate advertising before you joined IPM. What was that like?
It was a little too much like Mad Men. 🙂

How did you incorporate your advertising skills into your work at IPM?
I’ve learned to respect and honor the creative process. Creatives can be a bit territorial of their work, and it’s important to acknowledge their process.

If you could give a nonprofit one and only one piece of advice that would best prepare them to be financially stable for the next decade, what would it be?

If you could give a nonprofit one and only one piece of advice that would increase donor retention, what would it be?
Do not ignore the value of stewardship. Constantly thank, thank, and thank again. A little appreciation goes a long way.


On average, new IPM clients see a 34.8% increase in direct mail fundraising acquisition response rates within the first year of working with us. Want to learn more?

Share This