A consistent theme across all of Gary’s writing is the issue of “being” and “doing”—especially in the context of providing leadership, exploring preferred futures, and leveraging philanthropy and other resources as catalysts for change.


Books and Monographs

Leadership Learnings Across a Decade

After a decade of client service under the GHC banner, I've reflected on those who are doing the most impactful work-and with whom our partnership is most robust. Individuals who lead by example seem to be doing the following:             

  1. Acting with clarity about intention
  2. Seeing the whole system
  3. Discerning the true nature of the challenge: technical or adaptive
  4. Practicing agility, constantly scanning the horizon, and learning from the future
  5. Practicing resilience to unleash a new way forward
  6. Demonstrating leadership through personal courage and authenticity
  7. Responding from a place of love

This short piece amplifies each of these observations - free download (3 pages)

Scenario Thinking for Hospital System Foundation Leaders: Navigating Change as You “Rehearse the Future”

A common pitfall of leadership is sometimes being unable to see the forest for the trees. There are so many moving parts to the operating environment of any successful hospital system foundation that it's easy to get lost in minutiae and not be able to identify the right questions to be asking of the strategic challenge ahead. If you have been asking yourself, "What decisions should I be making now amidst all these sweeping changes in order to position us for optimal operating success in the future?" then you'll undoubtedly be hoping to see with new eyes how the central question could be answered.

This paper presents a scenario development tool that, while no panacea, it helps you get to shared clarity and ownership of the work ahead. Additionally, it helps you marry your collective attention to your stated intention. Four operating scenarios are developed as an illustration of how to apply this thinking to your foundation.  Completing the scenario development exercise with your leadership team can provide you great insights and enable you to gauge the strategic thinking skills and adaptability of your team. Having done so in a proactive way, the operating transformations become more direct and the rationale for doing so becomes abundantly clear. In that way, you'll avoid the drag of the skeptics and give the early adopters a clearer path on which to lead - free download (7 pages)

Wise Action in Community: Generosity, Leadership, and Concerted Action

Hilton Head Island, S.C. – March 26-28, 2015

Conversation 2015 was a space for holding open questions that matter, many of which we spend insufficient time thinking deeply about. The five questions that framed our three-day exploration are these:              

  1. Pursuing "organizational excellence" may-unintentionally-pull organizations away from meaningful and sustained concerted action in community? If so, what needs to happen?
  2. What are the prevailing assumptions about the way the world works? As we watch the social sector address big, tough social challenges, what seems to be the sector's predominant "theory in use" about concerted action?
  3. What are the vital characteristics of effective collaboration and how can they become the norm rather than the exception? Why is concerted action a much more difficult path for organizations?
  4. If generosity is a catalyst for social change, will/how will it become truly grass roots in nature?
  5. In pursuit of wise action in community, how must leaders empower, learn, adjust, and improvise to create something meaningful and lasting for all people? Can/How can this lead to systemic change? 

We acknowledge that "wicked problems" persist. Perhaps it is because we're still largely working alone and we're not working in a concerted way, free from our organizational and individual leadership ego to truly act in a concerted way. Perhaps it has something to do with a reluctance to act from the heart, from love, and from the power of diverse perspectives.

This summary is in PDF format, 87 pages, 3.2MB file - free download

Right Being, Wise Action, In Community

Hilton Head Island, S.C. – April 2-5, 2014

Our exploration of right being and wise action in community blends individual and organizational perspectives on leadership and responsibility. The framework for this discussion is around concerted action toward addressing "wicked problems"-those social or cultural problems that seem intractable. Individually, our reflections are often wrapped around some common questions: How will I be? What is my work? What will adaptive leadership look like? Why act in concerted action anyway? We trust and honor that the work is bigger than what the language of collective impact conjures in our minds. We believe right being and wise action in community has a lot to do with our relationship to the issue and our relationship to our stated intention. The narrative synthesis of four days of discussion among 14 of us produces insights around:                 

  • Authentic Adaptive Leadership
  • Framing Wise Action in Organizations
  • Illuminating Our Blind Spots
  • Leading from the Future
  • Leadership Learning Agenda toward Concerted Action
  • What Is Our Opening? What Is My Work?
  • Living Right Being 

This summary is in PDF format, 36 pages + 100 pages of contributed essays, 5 MB file - free download

GHC Conversation 2013 Summary

Resilience: Intentional Practice for the Social Sector

This monograph represents the summary and synthesis of GHC Conversation 2013 - our 5th gathering of in the series. Eleven social sector and philanthropy executives gathered in Scottsdale, Arizona in early May 2013. Building off the previous four years of deep discussions, this gathering sought to explore the intentional practice toward personal, organizational, community, and sector resilience. As in previous years, participants were asked in advance to write and submit an original essay on one aspect of what they consider as resilience and/or what comprises their intentional practice. While those essays are not included in this summary, they can be downloaded from the Conversation 2013 page. This summary is in PDF format, 19 pages, 8MB file - free download

The Social Sector and Philanthropy in 2030: Four Scenarios (2012)

This monograph reflects the thinking and discussion of GHC Conversation 2012, our fourth gathering in this series. From March 28 - 31, 2012, 16 leaders from organizations in the U.S. and Canada convened in Hilton Head, South Carolina, to explore what they might learn from the future through a scenario thinking exercise. The focus question: What will the social sector ecology in North America be like in 2030 and will philanthropy be innovative and sufficiently responsive to propel real and lasting change for all? We selected two signals as simultaneously the most critical to shaping the social sector and philanthropy and also the most uncertain. The convergence of these two driving signals created the dynamics and plot lines for our scenario thinking. Four scenarios emerge, around which the monograph presents (a) A Slice of Life in each scenario; (b) Highlights and Milestones; (c) Scenario Details; and (d) Philanthropy Implications in each scenario. This work is the co-creation of these 16 leaders.               

Distillation (summary) - [PDF format, 18 pages, 2.96 MB file] - free download

Full monograph (full text) - [PDF format, 45 pages, 2.68 MB file] - free download

Appendix to Monograph containing participant scenario stories:

Learning from the Future (2011)

This monograph represents the summary and synthesis of GHC Conversation 2011 - our third gathering of its kind. Fourteen social sector and philanthropy executives gathered on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina in late March 2011. We accepted as the platform for our thinking in 2011 the notion of learning from the future: the personal, organizational, community, and societal interrelationships that will most deeply shape the practice and promise of philanthropy in the year 2030. As in previous years, participants were asked in advance to write and submit an original essay on one aspect of what they believe we must learn from the future. Each essay coaxed the author out of his/her current "moment" and forced a short walk with uncertainty. This step was essential to moving participants away from techniques and models and more toward personal "openings." (PDF format, 158 pages, 3.55MB file).

Complete monograph (discussion summary and essays) - free download (158 pages)

Making Sense of Our Commitment to Lasting Change Through Philanthropy (2010)

This monograph represents the summary and synthesis of GHC Conversation 2010, a gathering of 14 social sector leaders from North American nonprofit organizations and foundations. Contents reflect the depth and scope of our four day discussion. Additionally, the essay contributions of each participant, which served as the catalyst to the conversation, are collected here. (PDF format, 186 pages, 5MB file).

Complete monograph (discussion summary and essays) - free download (186 pages)

Discussion summary only - free download (42 pages)

In Search of New Meaning (2009)

P: In Spring 2009, Gary Hubbell Consulting convened a think tank of North American nonprofit organization and development leaders. Four topics were selected for discussion, each of which became the focus of an insightful essay by each of the hand-picked attendees. The four topics are: New Perspectives on Leadership, Reimagining the Future of Philanthropy, Development in a Systems Context, and Demonstrating and Communicating Philanthropy's Impact.

Now Available in downloadable PDF format.

Staff-Led Feasibility: How to Design and Conduct Your Own Fundraising Feasibility Study

"It's not just for consultants anymore."

Prepare for your next campaign with confidence. Now you and your staff can conduct some or all of your next fundraising feasibility study without hiring counsel. Here is your complete reference for planning and implementing the study. Your approach to campaign will never be the same again.

Now available by ordering here.

Download a free chapter of this book here.

When the Party’s Over: Why, How, and When to Conduct a Post-Campaign Assessment (2009)

This paper explores a much-overlooked dimension of best-practice fundraising. Hubbell makes the case for why you should conduct a post-campaign assessment and how to do it. He fully describes the data to be examined, what types of conclusions you'll want to draw and how the entire process can better position your organization for the next campaign.

Now available in downloadable pdf format.

Lessons from Benchmarking: Fast-Forwarding the Maturity of the Fundraising Operation

Nonprofit organizations know only too well the constant challenges of fundraising. Help has arrived in the form of a handy new guidebook. In Lessons from Benchmarking: Fast-Forwarding the Maturity of the Fundraising Operation, coauthors Gary J. Hubbell and Mary K. Reinders focus on collecting and using data to implement and continuously improve fundraising efforts.

After analyzing accumulated data from more than forty organizations in the fields of health care and higher education, Hubbell and Reinders discovered that the problem is not a lack of information, but a lack of knowledge of how to convert that massive data into higher returns.

Now available by ordering here. Also available as a Kindle book.

Forces of Change: The Coming Challenges in Hospital Philanthropy

Hubbell concludes from his analysis that hospital philanthropy will undergo significant challenges between the decades of 2010 and 2030. The intersection of positive and negative forces is explored and interpreted. While some predict a "golden age of philanthropy," this monograph presents a much less robust future for hospital philanthropy-especially for community hospitals. Recommendations are offered hospital development professionals to mitigate negative impact.

Now available by ordering here or Also available as a Kindle book.

Other Articles

No Leaf Unturned
(CASE Currents, May/June 2006)

This article describes how to use several research tools to reconnect with alumni and discover hidden donors. The real breakthrough explored in the article is harnessing research to fuel communication strategies, thereby becoming a much more effective and sophisticated advancement operation. Co-authored with Mary Reinders and Jill Schoer.


The Decades Ahead
(AHP Journal, Fall 2005)

This article--selected by the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy as the best article of 2005--follows up Hubbell's monograph, helping the chief development officer interpret key forces of change. Hubbell argues that the CDO must become an informed interpreter of these external forces, playing a more forceful role in strategic discussions about the hospital's future.


Donors of the Future
(May 2003, self-published article/workshop discussion guide)

Hubbell presents eight distinguishing elements that will define donors of the future.