The fundraising firm of Saad & Shaw has established an office in Memphis because of the city’s central location and vibrant nonprofit community.
The two principals of the firm, Melvin Shaw and Pearl Saad Shaw, are now based in Memphis. They will also keep an office in Oakland, Calif., where they started the business.
For Melvin Shaw, the move means he has come back home. He grew up in Dixie Homes, taught at E.A. Harrold Elementary School and owned a small business in the city before he began working for the United Negro College Fund followed by founding his own consulting firm.
His wife and business partner, Pearl Shaw, said the move will allow them to grow an already impressive list of clients.
The clients they have served include Kaiser Permanente Department of Research, the Coalition for a Safe Environment, the Women’s Funding Network, San Francisco Library Foundation, North Carolina A&T University and several other colleges.
“We’re not seeking to just serve Memphis,” said Pearl Shaw. “It’s a jumping-off spot. We can get anywhere in the Southeast. We can get up to New York. Memphis is just centrally located. We can be of service here and we can continue to grow.”
The couple is looking to expand their Memphis network beyond clients they have worked for in the Mid-South, including LeMoyne-Owen College and Lane College in Jackson, Tenn. They set up an office in the city about six weeks ago.
Melvin Shaw started his consulting firm in 1993, then merged it with one founded by Pearl Saad Shaw when the two became business and life partners. The couple met while working on a fundraising campaign.
During his time as vice president of marketing for the United Negro College Fund, he established the Lou Rawls Telethon.
“I came out of the private sector,” said Pearl Shaw. “I had worked for a biotechnology company. I had also worked for a software development company doing business development. From there, I transferred into the nonprofit sector. I worked with a major women’s college, Mills College.”
Although they have specialized in helping colleges raise money, about 30 percent of their firm’s business is with smaller, traditional nonprofit organizations. They also work with companies and corporations on cause marketing campaigns.
The Shaws have a national network of connections, but they said their clients should grow their own base of supporters.
“We don’t come with a rolodex,” Melvin Shaw said. “I know a lot of firms will say we know the Rockefellers, we know Bill Cosby, We know Oprah Winfrey, blah, blah, blah. No, we know nobody. But what we do is
provide you with the training and the development and the capacity so that on your own and with your own connections you can reach out to those people who can make a difference.”
The firm stresses fundamental goals to nonprofit agencies. The firm's website is www.saadandshaw.com and has a blog that offers free advice to the nonprofit community. ...