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Michael McNeely, Abbey Group founder



Now celebrating over 30 years in fundraising, Michael McNeely founded Abbey Group in 1992 with a passion to demonstrate that customized services produce extraordinary development results. Dozens of successful campaigns and development projects have proven him right. He is a frequent speaker and author in the field.


Abbey Group brings to each fundraising challenge a determination to find the best path to reach the goal. “Clients sometimes doubt,” says Michael. “They doubt the goal and the process. It’s our job to help them keep the faith and stay on task until the goal is met.” Fundraising depends on good research and know-how, Michael admits, but that’s not all. “I’ve found that emotion is very important. When we’re all inspired by the mission, donors respond.”


Michael has shared campaign successes with top executives from multinational corporations. He has served as development counsel to the American Medical Association; American Lung Association (national office); American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology; Boys’ & Girls’ Clubs; Beloit Memorial Hospital Foundation; Funeral Service Foundation; and Catholic Dioceses of Lafayette, Indiana; Gary, Indiana; and Rapid City, South Dakota.


Michael organized Abbey Group to provide personal, customized service to nonprofit organizations. He is adept at working closely with board members and motivating volunteers. Michael’s personal and direct approach to fund development has yielded significant results for clients, including the following:

  • Directed numerous efforts exceeding $100,000,000

  • Counseled client on three $1,000,000 lead major gifts

  • Coordinated numerous grants, including: $15,000 for poison center video,
    $75,000 for research and capital grants of $500,000 and $450,000

  • Increased client’s annual fund from $1.6 million to $2.1 million in one year

  • Raised average major gift from physicians to over $11,000

  • Established new major donor society for many clients

  • Established prospect research and solicitation process for national research campaign


Previous to founding Abbey Group, Michael was a senior development officer at Children’s Hospital Foundation of Wisconsin. As a member of a hospital development team, Michael helped raise in excess of $6,000,000 each year for capital projects and programs at Children’s Hospital.


Michael is a frequent speaker on nonprofit topics. He has delivered keynotes and educational sessions for AFP Milwaukee, AFP South Dakota, The Black Hills Community Foundation and South Dakota Community Foundation. He also provided articles on philanthropy for “Director” Magazine.


A graduate of Marquette University, Michael is a past trustee of the Milwaukee Repertory Theater and past chair of the REP’s Major Gifts Committee. He is a past president of the Friends of Old World Wisconsin and past board chair of the Institute for Entrepreneurship. Michael is also a past treasurer and board member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) – Milwaukee.

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