Manna Food Center

CONSULTING AREA: Fundraising - capital campaign

“Mary and her team know this community so well. She’s out in the community, rubbing shoulders with the very people we were prospecting.” 

– Jackie DeCarlo, Manna CEO

courtesy of Manna Food Center


Manna Food Center’s mission is to eliminate hunger through food distribution, education, and advocacy in Montgomery County, MD. Manna’s Food for All Capital Campaign set ambitious goals to raise $2 million to “take us to the next level” to address Montgomery County residents’ increasing food security needs, says Manna CEO Jackie DeCarlo. The campaign’s goal was to fund the opening of a second hub location in eastern Montgomery County to serve the growing population of neighbors in those communities as well as refurbish Manna’s existing facility. This would double Manna’s capacity to rescue and share up to 7 million pounds of food annually with low-income residents dealing with hunger.

Key Challenges

Manna had never done a major fundraising campaign before, and needed to ask donors for a much deeper level of support.“We needed a consultant who could create all the phases and manage the campaign,” DeCarlo notes.


Capacity Partners tested Manna’s initial assumptions to help set the campaign’s goals and shape the campaign strategy. Implementation included creating a case for support. The quiet phase proved essential, with DeCarlo acknowledging, “Identifying who could contribute was key.” Capacity Partners encouraged larger asks guided by prospecting and wealth database analysis. Without that research and guidance, DeCarlo notes, some donors “would have stayed at the $10,000 level.” Capacity Partners’ crucial contributions rested on team members’ ability to explore and understand donors’ giving capacity. Through data mining and wealth exploration, Capacity Partners provided insights that allowed the organization to set bolder expectations.


The campaign was a resounding success, exceeding the campaign’s original $2 million goal to reach $2.5 million. It not only secured necessary resources to serve more people, but also strengthened relationships with existing donors while connecting Manna with new support. “With each campaign phase, we got more sophisticated in our donor relations and donor communications.” She adds, “It deepened our relationships with donors and taught us to message in new ways.” These enhanced capabilities have proven invaluable during the unexpected challenges that arose during the pandemic, which hit just after the campaign. DeCarlo notes, “We were prepared for the unexpected. It also has helped with the inflation we are dealing with now.”