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Laura J. MacDonald, CFRE

Laura J. MacDonald, CFRE

Principal & Founder

Laura MacDonald, Principal and Founder of Benefactor Group, has served the nonprofit sector for four decades. In 2000, she established Benefactor Group to serve the needs of those who serve the common good. The firm works with healthcare, arts, culture, and educational institutions; human service organizations; women’s funds; and others as they pursue their vision of a better world. The team at Benefactor Group has served hundreds of clients, ranging from universities, art museums, hospitals, and global NGOs, to start-up community organizations.

Prior to establishing Benefactor Group, Laura served as the vice president and creative director of a national fundraising firm, chief development officer in arts and higher education, and as a key volunteer for community organizations. Laura was chief development officer at The Ohio State University’s Wexner Center for the Arts where she also served as a senior development officer in the University’s $1.2 billion capital campaign.

Laura is constantly curious about innovations in fundraising and philanthropy and an astute storyteller. She is a frequent speaker at local, regional, and national conferences (AFP, AAM, AMDA, Fundraising Bootcamp, Ronald McDonald House, etc.) and has addressed hundreds of nonprofit boards. Her articles related to advancement and philanthropy have appeared in Advancing Philanthropy, Nonprofit Quarterly, and other professional publications. As chair of the Giving USA Foundation she contributes to Giving USA: The Annual Report on Philanthropy, the seminal study of the sources and uses of charitable giving in the United States—and is consulted widely by publications such as New York Times, Ms. Magazine, Penta Barron’s, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and was named her chapter’s “Fundraising Professional of the Year” in 2007.

Notable Current/Recent Clients:

Central Ohio:

  • Columbus College of Art and Design
  • I AM Boundless
  • Junior Achievement
  • Mid-Ohio Food Collective


  • Akron Canton Regional Foodbank
  • Grand Rapids Art Museum
  • Ohio Living
  • Ohio Northern University
  • Ohio University
  • Speed Museum of Art (Louisville)


  • Association of Chamber of Commerce Executives
  • Balboa Park Conservancy
  • Global Fund for Women
  • National 4-H Council
  • National Museum of the Unites States Navy
  • National Museum of Wildlife Art
  • National Museum of Women in the Arts
  • Norman Rockwell Museum
  • Rady Children’s Hospital Foundation
  • Wellesley College/Wellesley Centers for Women
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