Honorees Selected for 33rd Annual National Philanthropy Day Celebration

Congratulations to Michael Bohnsack, current NKC Board President, for being recognized as the “Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser of the Year!”

Honorees Selected for 33rd Annual National Philanthropy Day Celebration
Grand Rapids, MI (August 20, 2019) – The Association of Fundraising Professionals West Michigan Chapter (AFPWM) is pleased to announce the 33rd annual National Philanthropy Day® (NPD) award recipients who will be honored at a luncheon held on Tuesday, November 12, 2019, at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, MI. Award recipients are chosen by their accomplishments, commitment, and exceptional philanthropic contributions to West Michigan. This year’s event will also feature nonprofit professional and speaker Vu Le, who will deliver his keynote address titled “Unlocking the Full Potential of the Nonprofit Sector.” Bookending the luncheon is the morning session “Using Data to Tell Your Story of Community Impact” presented by the Johnson Center and the afternoon workshop “Community Centric Fundraising and the Role of Fundraisers” led by Vu Le.

2019 National Philanthropy Day Honorees (detailed information following):
Aaron Turner, Development Manager, WGVU PBS and NPR
Benjamin Franklin Award for Outstanding Fundraising Professional
Michigan State University College of Human Medicine, Gran Fondo
West Michigan Chapter Award for Excellence in
Joe and Clara Stewart Family
Distinguished Philanthropist Award
Ben Nyhoff, Development Manager, Kids’ Food Basket
Emerging Nonprofit Development Professional
OST (Open Systems Technologies)
Outstanding Corporation, Foundation, or Community
Organization Award Michael Bohnsack, Bohnsack & Associates
Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award
Jenison High School Students
Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award

Aaron Turner, Development Manager at WGVU PBS and NPR, will be presented with the Benjamin Franklin Award for Outstanding Fundraising Professional. Turner is a 17-year fundraising veteran with experience managing relationships with statewide, regional and local nonprofit organizations.

Turner holds a certificate from U.I.C. in Nonprofit Management and has been recognized by the National Boy Scouts of America, YNPN GR, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Hospice of Michigan, Grand Rapids Community College Foundation board, PBS National Education committee and more for his commitment to the nonprofit sector. Turner is part of Varnum’s Diversity and Inclusion Council, a highly selective advisory council to enhance the firm’s culture with an awareness, understanding, and appreciation of diversity at all levels. Since joining WGVU Public Media, Turner has successfully implemented new, innovative fundraising programs such as WGVU Pop-Up Series, WGVU’s Food, Wine and All That is Jazz among other forward-thinking development events aimed at diversifying their donor base.

Michigan State University College of Human Medicine’s Gran Fondo will receive The West Michigan Chapter Award for Excellence in Fundraising. The Gran Fondo is a creative and innovative non-competitive cycling ride with the purpose to raise awareness and funds for the fight against skin cancer. Gran Fondo (Italian for Big Ride) has raised over $1 million since its inception in 2013. Funds raised from this event equate to 5% of the entire funding for the MSU research project on melanoma. More people are diagnosed with skin cancer each year in the U.S. than all other cancers combined. The annual cost of treating skin cancers in the U.S. is estimated at $8.1 billion- about $4.8 billion for nonmelanoma skin cancers and $3.3 billion for melanoma.

The Joe and Clara Stewart Family are the recipients of the Distinguished Philanthropist Award. The Stewarts are an icon of philanthropy who inspire all who encounter their steadfast commitment to their community and to youth. For over two decades, the Stewarts have been instrumental in building up the Battle Creek community. They have created a donor advised fund to support and provide special opportunities to financially disadvantaged young people and their families to assist them in meeting their dreams to become successful adults. Since starting the family fund in 2001, they have supported more than 90 organizations, totaling nearly $1.8 million. Joe and Clara moved to Battle Creek in 1980 where Joe worked for Kellogg Company as the Director of Child Nutrition. This position brought the Stewarts around the world where they became deeply involved at an African school, Zamani, which has since been dedicated to them. Growing out of their passion came the Joe and Clara Stewart African Tented Camp and Zamani School at Binder Park Zoo. The Stewarts believe in actively participating in philanthropic decisions. Their service has included leadership board roles at: The National Resources Center for the Healing of Racism, the Southwest Michigan Urban League, Southern University System Foundation, Medical Education for South African Blacks, the Auto Club of Michigan and many more.

Ben Nyhoff, Development Manager, Kids’ Food Basket, will receive the Emerging Nonprofit Development Professional Award. Nyhoff joined the Kids’ Food Basket team in 2018 to help address challenges and break down barriers for the communities’ children. In the short time that Nyhoff has been at Kids’ Food Basket, he has coordinated efforts for committee development strategies, volunteer presentations and gave leadership to the monthly giving campaign, Healthy Kids Club. Since 2018, Nyhoff has recruited over 50 new donors, totally $18,000 in new revenue, and has been instrumental in donor retention by maintaining 80% of active Healthy Kids Club gifts.

Open Systems Technologies (OST) will receive the Outstanding Corporation, Foundation, or Community Organization Award in recognition for their exceptional commitment to the West Michigan community. OST has made an inspiring shift toward philanthropic efforts in the community they serve, investing in the areas of education, health and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). OST partners with West Michigan’s Center for Arts and Technology for their Teen Arts + Tech Program that provides mentorship and hands-on skills in areas such as game design and 3-D printing. OST’s longstanding partnership with Grand Rapids Public Schools provides annual field trips for all 5th grand students to Lake Michigan, many who have never seen the lake before. Likewise, OST has helped provide more than $60,000 to sure every GRPS 8th grade students has access to free athletics during the school year.
Other initiatives include their support of the Battle of the Brackets event that supports GR8 Sports, Great Kids program; annual donations for helmets and bikes to students at the Harrison Park Perfect Attendance Dinner; volunteer support to teach design thinking to students at Thornapple Elementary School’s STEAM event.

Michael Bohnsack, Bohnsack & Associates, will be presented with the Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser Award. Bohnsack has been described as a motivating force with exceptional leadership skills who “gets” philanthropy. Bohnsack is active in local entrepreneurial and philanthropic activities. He is a current board member of the Heart of West Michigan United Way, North Kent Connect, Ronald McDonald House, Gilda’s Club, and Wolverine YMCA. Previously, Michael was the Director of Community Engagement North America at Wolverine Worldwide, one of the world’s leading footwear and apparel companies. Michael led the Community Engagement initiatives companywide, focusing on employee volunteer opportunities contributing to local communities and national charitable organizations. Michael facilitated the development of new partnerships with local community leaders and employees to create positive impacts.

Jenison High School Student Body will receive the Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy Award for their outstanding commitment to youth causes. The students and Jenison High School have been generously giving back and raising awareness for the Make-a-Wish® Michigan mission since 1999 and exemplify the spirit of the Kids for Wish Kids program. This program is a platform for youth to create fundraisers to help support the mission and grant wishes of children battling critical illnesses. In 2014 and 2018, the Jenison students raised a total of almost $30,000 through their homecoming fundraiser. Students sold bracelets and stars and hosted a carnival and tailgate party prior to their big game to help raise funds and bring awareness to Make-a-Wish® Michigan. In addition, each class adopted a wish granted by Make-a-Wish® Michigan and made a themed float for their parade based on that wish. During the parade a wish kid was able to ride in that float.
The students at Jenison High School are leading by example and have displayed selfless acts of kindness for many deserving children in West Michigan.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) represents more than 30,000 members in 233 chapters throughout the world, working to advance philanthropy through advocacy, research, education and certification programs. The association fosters development and growth of fundraising professionals and promotes high ethical standards in the fundraising profession. Locally, AFP West Michigan is comprised of more than 240 members. The chapter area is comprised of the entire western half of the state, which includes southern counties near the Indiana border to as far north as Mackinaw City, from just west of Lansing to the beaches of Lake Michigan, and every corner in between.

Contact: Steve Ozinga

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