Mecca Billings Nelson, Founder and Principal

A graduate of Harvard College, Mecca Billings Nelson has more than twenty years of professional experience in fundraising. In March 2011 she founded Billings Consulting Group, a full-service fundraising consulting firm. Since founding Billings Consulting Group, her fundraising counsel has directed more than $10 million to her clients.

Prior to starting her company, Ms. Billings Nelson was the Director of Development for The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA for five years. At The Marine Mammal Center she managed the strategy and execution of its capital and annual operating campaigns. 

When Ms. Billings Nelson joined the Center in July 2006, it had secured $17 million for its capital campaign over a six year period. Under Ms. Billings Nelson’s leadership, the Center secured over $14 million in additional commitments to its capital campaign, including a $1 million challenge grant from the Packard Foundation (which she negotiated) and a $500,000 challenge grant from the Kresge Foundation in less than three years.

In addition, she increased the annual operating revenue and the gross and net proceeds from the annual fundraising gala. Furthermore, she enhanced the professionalism of the development staff, the participation of the board in development activities, outreach to major donors, and the major donor pipeline in partnership with the Membership department, which merged with the Development department in 2007. She also conceived of, and served as project manager for, a book about the Center that was published by Chronicle Books in June 2009. Prior to her departure, Ms. Billings Nelson was also the Chair of the Center’s interdepartmental Marketing Team.

The Marine Mammal Center unveiled its new hospital and visitor center in June 2009, and Ms. Billings Nelson produced a series of 21 special grand opening events, including a Ribbon Cutting event that was attended by more than 400 guests. In January 2010, the Center commenced a new $2.5 million capital campaign for a healthcare facility in Hawaii to support the conservation efforts for the endangered Hawaiian monk seal. During her role as a fundraising consultant to the Center, Ms. Billings Nelson managed the capital campaign for the Hawaiian monk seal facility and she increased the total funds raised to more than $1.7 million, meeting and surpassing the groundbreaking goal, during her consulting engagement.

Ms. Billings Nelson began her fundraising career at her alma mater, Harvard, where she worked in the Harvard College Fund during the $2.1 billion university-wide campaign. Initially, she managed the senior class gift program and alumni class gift committees, and set new donor participation records for young alumni classes. After two years she was promoted to a specially created position to manage a $25 million capital campaign project, identify new prospects in the $5,000-$100,000 giving range on the West Coast, and staff the College’s Visiting Committee comprised of alumni major donors.

Prior to joining The Marine Mammal Center, Ms. Billings Nelson was the Director of Development for The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) Foundation, where she was responsible for the management of all development activities and secured $3.2 million annually for the organization’s charitable programs. At the BASF Foundation, Ms. Billings Nelson developed and implemented a comprehensive fundraising strategy focused on increasing support from the legal community and decreasing dependence on grant support. During her tenure, that strategy yielded an 85% increase in law firm contributions and created over $300,000 in new annual revenue from an individual donor program she launched. In addition, she created and coordinated a new annual gala fundraising event; the 2004 gala grossed $300,000 and the 2005 gala grossed $325,000.

Prior to the BASF Foundation, Ms. Billings Nelson was the Director of the Annual Fund for the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. At Haas, she created a class gift committee and recruited 120 alumni to serve as class agents. She also created the Haas Leadership Society to recognize annual major gift donors and donors who had made gifts for 10 or more consecutive years. Prior to Haas, Ms. Billings Nelson was a member of the major gifts team in the College of Letters and Science at Berkeley and at UCLA, where she worked with the University’s Director of Strategic Alliances to establish a philanthropic venture capital fund.

Ms. Billings Nelson also has work experience in the for-profit sector. She was General Manager of Zone Communications, a magazine that profiled Southern California high technology and dot-com companies. As General Manager, she was responsible for securing print and online advertising, and coordinating marketing and business development activities. After securing an advertisement commitment for Zone from Growthink, she was hired by that company to direct its business development activities. Growthink was a start-up firm that provided business consulting services to start-up technology companies, and Ms. Billings Nelson also participated in writing business plans and identifying potential investors for the company’s clients. 

Outside of work Ms. Billings Nelson enjoys travel (she founded her company as a result of her love of travel!), Spanish Flamenco song, music and dance, and learning languages.