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Open Hands

Open Hands exists to help people in need bringing hope for a better tomorrow. Their programs focus on seniors, veterans, children, and families. Since its inception in 1998, Open Hands has distributed more than 12 million pounds of food to those who need it most in Donna, Texas, and the surrounding areas. The program has provided services to families, seniors, and veterans with nearly $3 million worth of food in its 24-year history.

From a small food pantry located inside Hi-Way Chapel Church, Open Hands quickly outgrew its original location, and in 1999, the founders relocated to their current location in the heart of Donna. In 2003, the organization became its own 501(c)3.

Cielo Strategy Group first met Open Hands through the Knapp Community Care Foundation’s (KCCF) nonprofit capacity building program. KCCF contracted with Cielo Strategy Group for our team to deliver a full organizational assessment for Open Hands. The three month assessment process identified areas of strength and improvement through listening, learning, and data collection by our team. It included our recommendations for where Open Hands could focus their efforts in order to become a stronger organization. KCCF then used the written organizational assessment to make investment decisions for the growth and sustainability of Open Hands.

With that grant funding, the Cielo Strategy team then worked hand-in-hand with Open Hands’ newly appointed Executive Director to execute on the agreed upon recommendations. Our focus with Open Hands for the year-long partnership was developing a fund development program, including the hiring of a Development Officer, in addition to support with Board governance and engagement.

Our capacity building work included:

  • Making recommendations and implementing their first ever donor relations and giving database.
  • Creating an annual fundraising plan with goals, strategies, and a workable timeline.
  • Offering support in identifying, reviewing, and editing grant applications for increased foundation giving.
  • Creating, writing, and project managing their first ever year end annual giving campaign.
  • Supporting their staff with marketing, communications, and storytelling efforts as it relates to fundraising and impact.

As a result of our partnership with Open Hands, the organization tripled their grant revenue and saw a 50% increase in individual contributions. They were also successful securing additional space from the City of Donna to grow their thrift shop and expand program services. As they approach their 25th anniversary, we are excited to celebrate with Open Hands and watch their vision unfold.

  • The Cielo Strategy Group team brings a passion for strengthening nonprofits to their work, and it is evident in their every detail – from their outstanding customer service, to their impeccable follow-through, to the way they engage with residents, board and staff – I just can’t say enough good things. They are professional, knowledgeable, and genuinely dedicated to creating a sustainable organization. I am forever grateful to them.

    Thrive Youth Center
  • The Bay City ISD School Board and staff could not have been more enthusiastic about the marketing plan that Cielo Strategy Group developed for us. We are extremely excited to see what we can do with the tools you've given us. Thank you so much for making my job easier."

    Bay City ISD
  • Thank you so much, Cielo Strategy Group for creating capacity within our organization now and for the future. You guided us, coached us, encouraged us, and taught us how to execute ideas that had always felt like far-off dreams. You didn’t come in and point out our weaknesses – you celebrated our strengths, and then, you met us where we were and gave us actionable steps to strengthen our board governance, fundraising, communications, storytelling, and operations. We are stronger because of you!

    Girls on the Run Bexar County
  • The Cielo team has been a trusted partner strengthening our organization from the inside out. After facilitating our initial organizational assessment process, they identified key areas we needed to focus on that would move our mission forward. They didn’t just give us a report with recommendations, they jumped in and created the infrastructure we needed to help us operate more effectively – from basic Board governance documents and processes to a staff and volunteer handbook, to operational planning and goal-setting. They have coached me to become a better leader. As we celebrated our ten-year anniversary, we accepted a transformational gift to purchase our own land and build upon our vision. We could not have done this without “getting our house in order”, which is what Cielo Strategy Group did for us.

    South Texas Juvenile Diabetes Association
  • The Cielo team has been instrumental in helping the Weslaco Museum rebuild for the future. As a new Executive Director, I am thankful for their unwavering commitment. They provided our organization with the proverbial “light at the end of the tunnel” – enabling us to focus on our vision and mission. They have helped the Weslaco Museum grow our member base, streamline our website, strengthen our board, and our overall vision for the future.

    Weslaco Museum
  • Cielo Strategy Group is part of our Clinic family. With our long standing partnership, I have relied on their team as a steady support system – responding to our needs and flexing with us. They have elevated our storytelling and communications, guided us through annual fund development plans, designed and project managed annual appeal mailings, coached us through grant proposals, facilitated Board sessions and a strategic planning process. They push us toward excellence and don’t settle for less.

    San Antonio Christian Dental Clinic