Creative Development Strategies


“Marla brings a lot to the table when it comes to philanthropy. Her familiarity with charities, organizations, how they work and the people involved, proved extremely useful in the early stages of creating the Honey Dew Family Foundation.

I sought Marla’s services to mediate our board meetings and get us on track. She introduced our board of beginners to the business of philanthropy. She taught us how to distinguish one organization from another and question whether or not our donation would make a significant difference to that specific group. She took us through the process of writing RFP's, reviewing grant requests, teaching us what to look for during site visits and the importance of follow-up to measure our contribution.

Five years later, Marla is still keeping us on track, facilitating our meetings and insuring they are productive, reviewing our agendas and arranging guest speakers. She reminds us to review our mission statement when we are discussing grant prospects. She brings years of experience, an in-depth knowledge, and objectivity to an all-family board."

Richard J. Bowen
Businessman and Philanthropist
Founder Honey Dew Donuts and Honey Dew Family Foundation

“We first contacted Marla to do a feasibility study for our organization. She provided us with staffing suggestions as well as specific ideas for an event that yielded great results. Years later, we continue to rely on Marla.

Marla is a big-picture thinker/planner with a vast amount of experience to offer. She is clear and honest and has provided Lovelane with some of our most successful plans and ideas. We trust her to understand us, and especially value her ability to work within our organization as an engaged and passionate partner."

Debby Sabin
Founder/Executive Director
Lovelane Special Needs Horseback Riding Program, Inc.

“Several years ago we hired Marla to assist us during a transition with our Executive Directors. We were seeking much needed guidance and support in our Development Department during this transitional time. Marla was a voice of reason and objectivity that enabled us to be successful in maintaining the financial support base of our organization. Marla was always available to us and was the ultimate professional in dealing with tough situations."

Marilyn Goldman
Assistant Executive Director
The David Project

"I worked with Creative Development Strategies while serving as Board President of an independent school. CDS stepped in to bridge the gap until our new Director of Institutional Advancement was hired. During this period, they helped maintain our existing development efforts, assessed our infrasturcture, and helped us prepare a comprehensive overhaul of our fundraising efforts for the future.

During the transition and beyond, CDS was extremely professional and knowledgeable. Their integrity, ability to work with all levels of staff and their commitment to follow-through make working with them a pleasure."

Elizabeth Jick
Former Board Chair
Gann Academy




“Marla Kannel has given shape and structure to our campaign. She works collaboratively with our staff and Board to motivate and direct our efforts. She is ambitious, visionary, methodical and determined. Marla inspires us to achieve our goals and has become an invaluable member of our team.”

Carole Charnow
Boston Children’s Museum

“We have referred organizations we fund to Marla for capacity building assistance. Marla’s holistic perspective on development leaves every organization who works with her stronger and more likely to achieve its goals.”

Foundation President

“Marla’s extensive experience provided a rich resource that enabled our professional staff and volunteer leadership to make strategic decisions about annual and capital campaigns, communications and marketing. She has done it all – solicitations, stewardship, events, direct mail, strategic planning, coaching – and is able to help the staff take all of the moving parts and create a unified, successful outcome that meets our organization’s needs.”

Deborah Golden
Development Professional

"We called upon Marla to work with our staff and our board as we planned the Museum's Centennial Campaign and strengthened our individual giving efforts. Her energy, experience and creativity have been a wonderful resource. With a small development staff, BCM is fortunate to have Marla as part of our team."

Karin Blum
Director of Development
Boston Children's Museum

“LISTEN TO WHAT MARLA SAYS. Marla‘s combination of “on the ground” practical advice, strategic thinking and her creative ability mix together to help non-profits strengthen their fundraising and organizational work. Marla will assess a situation, give her frank opinion, and then help the organization figure out how to implement new approaches. She is a true working partner and will stick by you to the end.”

Cecilia Roddy
Vice President of Development and External Affairs
Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps.

I had the pleasure of working closely with Marla Kannel while I was board chair of a therapeutic horseback riding non-profit. Marla was instrumental in facilitating a successful organizational-wide retreat, which resulted in new strategies for program assessment and development, strengthened teamwork and leadership, and set new and realistic fundraising goals and objectives. Marla was a steady influence during implementation of several innovative ideas, and continued to provide high quality expertise and advice as organizational needs arose. She is warm, friendly, enthusiastic, optimistic, and a great communicator. Years later, I continue to consult with Marla, who is always willing to help."

Carol O'Neil
Board Trustee
Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health

"Marla worked with us as interim Director of Development during a transition in our organization's leadership. She managed the staff and Board, led our fundraising efforts and identified the candidate we eventually hired as the new DOD. Marla's knowledge of the Boston philanthropic community, her creativity and her strong leadership held our organization together during a time of change."

Jodi Wolin
Director of Development
Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Conservancy