A passion for making a difference has defined Russ’ Not-For Profit career since he began in 1981. From the start, he has helped build organizational capacity utilizing a myriad of integrated marketing strategies, major gift and campaign efforts that catapulted organizations to new heights. Recently he joined the team of Detroit PAL, as its Chief Advancement Officer. Prior to joining Detroit PAL he lead efforts with organizations such as Forgotten Harvest, a member of the Feeding America national network which became America’s largest Food Rescue Relief organization adding over 90,000 new donors in less than three years. Some of the strategies included new brand awareness and intense public relations elevating the organization’s position in the community with an integrated fundraising strategy that included cause-marketing, media, advertising, telethons, radio-thons, direct mail, major gift and foundation development. The operating budget expanded from $3 million to $9 million annually in three short years with a successful $11 million Capacity Campaign. Previous to his efforts at Forgotten Harvest he served three divisions as the Executive Director of Development for The Salvation Army in Phoenix, Philadelphia and Detroit with record breaking years at each division.
In some of his efforts over 17 years with The Salvation Army, Russ was responsible for leading a successful $10 Million Capital Campaign in St. Louis, a $20 Million Capacity Campaign in Philadelphia. In Michigan, the Eastern Michigan Division set records nationally in disaster fundraising with $8 million collected in 2006-2007 and $2.7 million was generated in the largest one day radio-thon with Radio Hall of Fame great, Dick Purtan and WOMC FM radio in 2007. In addition he was responsible in securing a $50 million gift from the Kroc estate and 30 acre parcel of land valued at $3 million.
In 1999, he assumed the role of Vice President of North American Outreach for Food for the Poor and increased its fundraising by 365% with a national integrated marketing and media focus, uniting organizations within the United States with NGO’s in developing countries. He launched the ‘2000 HOMES IN 2000’ fundraising initiative with the National Religious Broadcasters of America, netting over $4 million for new homes throughout the Caribbean. Additionally, he founded Cross International, which realized $3 million in start-up funding. And now boasts a $200 million annual budget. His global experience included international relief efforts in Africa, Thailand, Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua, and 15 other countries.
In 1982 he received his BA Degree in Business Administration and Education at Mid America Nazarene University. AFP awarded him the Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE) in 1989. He volunteers for several organizations here and abroad including Sweet Dreemz, Metro Detroit Youth Day, Uniting Detroit, Cross International, Healthshare Global and the Chandler Park Conservancy.