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Lindsay Matush and Melinda McAliney
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Breakout Session
Tuesday, May 1, 2018 | 9:25 AM

Generosity: Helping Your Clients Explore Their Giving Preferences and Strategies

Lindsay Matush, Vario Philanthropy

Melinda McAliney, Vario Philanthropy

Ever make a charitable gift and still feel unsatisfied? Ever feel like a charity ATM? Have you ever heard your clients express similar concerns? The reason may be that your (or your clients') giving may be out of sync with your/their values, giving preferences, or desired impact. Giving that is deeply fulfilling and undeniably effective is heavily influenced not only by WHAT you support and WHY you support it, but HOW you support it. We'll explore how you can help ensure your clients' giving strategies complement their giving goals. Learn how to experience deeper conversations with your clients by asking questions that uncover their charitable interests and giving style (i.e., do they want to impact at a systems or community level, help build capacity, support existing services, invest in new ideas, etc.). Walk away with new tools to uncover the various ways your clients can support the causes, people, and places they care about based on the level and type of impact they want to make. The result? Happier clients who give with intentionality and joy. 

Attendees will : 

  1. Identify tools and questions to help clients uncover their giving style and charitable interests. 
  2. Learn now you can support your clients' philanthropy in ways that are beneficial for them and their families, and great for your practice. 
  3. Learn how to help clients align their giving strategy with their desired philanthropic impact. 


Lindsay Matush, CEO, Vario Philanthropy, St. Louis, MO

Lindsay is a passionate advocate for inspired philanthropy. She grew up as the daughter of a wealth advisor to high net worth families. She’d heard stories of how family wealth could ruin children, and had parents who were determined that she’d know the value of a dollar and that she’d be generous. From her earliest dollar earned, she would save 25% and give 10% to charity and was constantly challenged to consider her impact on the world.

She began her career in the nonprofit sector where she saw firsthand how a mix of donations and grants could be applied to advance excellent work or to perpetuate mediocrity. She was named Executive Director by the age of 26, and had a “baptized by fire” experience in driving all aspects of marketing, branding, development, and strategy. On sabbatical, she accidentally founded Vario Consulting. What began as interim support to help friends and colleagues with critical insight, emerged as a rapidly growing firm where she puts her passion, skill, and personal experience to work in the philanthropic advising space.

As CEO of Vario Consulting, which has two arms – Marketing and Philanthropy –she leads research, brand building and creative strategies, while guiding vision, business strategy and talent acquisition for the firm.  She is a graduate of the Olin Business School at Washington University in St. Louis. When she’s not working with a client, she can be found running off mountains and chasing records around the world as a paraglider pilot and scheming about her next adrenaline or entrepreneurial adventure.


Melinda McAliney, Director, Vario Philanthropy, St. Louis, MO

Melinda brings deep expertise across corporate, individual, and foundation philanthropy to the Vario team. Her skill is fueled by a lifelong passion to make a difference and to equip others to do the same.

Melinda knew she wanted to “change the world” at an early age. Serving others became a personal value, or even a calling, and she thought she’d spend her life working directly with people in need. But her first grantmaking role after graduate school quickly showed her the power of philanthropy, when done well, to dramatically change lives – including the giver. Out of this grew a deep conviction to help make philanthropy more meaningful and effective.

Over the years, Melinda has worked with foundations and corporations to develop holistic giving strategies that lead to changed communities and lives. She’s consulted with countless nonprofits to help them identify and measure their impact, and then share their story with donors. She has also helped empower individuals to serve their communities in new, more fulfilling ways. Her previous roles in philanthropy for the St. Louis Blues, United Way, EDS, Send Me St. Louis, and Lutheran Foundation of St. Louis have given her a strong base for equipping foundations and philanthropists to increase both the joy and impact of their giving. She has seen time and time again that when you intentionally apply your whole self – your time and your finances – amazing things will happen. 

She has a BA in psychology and sociology from Illinois Wesleyan University and a Master of Social Work from Washington University in St. Louis. One of her greatest joys currently is helping her children identify their passions so they can be the next generation of change-makers.

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