Melanie Hildreth

Board Member

Melanie started MLH Strategic Planning LLC in 2023 to offer support to nonprofits based on her two decades of experience successfully developing and executing fundraising, donor relations, and donor communications strategies at national nonprofit organizations. She works closely with clients, providing expert guidance on and support in building or revitalizing legacy societies, as well as mentorship and advice on donor relations, communications, and solicitation.

Melanie spent the bulk of her career at the Institute for Justice (IJ), where she made substantial contributions to the organization’s growth for over 16 years. As IJ’s Vice President for External Relations, she successfully managed a portfolio of high-capacity individual and foundation donors, securing substantial five-, six-, and seven-figure gifts annually. She secured and managed $4 million in challenge grants, leading the campaigns and bringing in millions more in gifts eligible for a match.

Melanie built IJ’s Four Pillars Society from the ground up, growing it from 17 members to more than 650, with $127 million in gifts pledged and contributed under her leadership.

She also oversaw all of IJ’s mass communications to donors and prospects; including Liberty & Law magazine, for which she served as editor; acquisition and housefile programs; and IJ’s email program and digital marketing; driving an increase in donations generated on each platform. Melanie launched and hosted the Deep Dive with the Institute for Justice podcast and video series, which received as many as 270,000 views per episode, and she produced an IJ promotional video that won W3’s prestigious “Best in Show” award in 2021.

During her tenure as Chief of Staff at the Foundation for Research on Equal Opportunity (FREOPP), Melanie successfully grew the organization’s revenue by 55% by bringing in new donors to the organization and securing increased contributions from existing supporters. She oversaw a significant increase in research development and implemented effective donor and audience communications strategies, including drafting and managing the FREOPP Highlights Substack newsletter, which goes to more than 15,000 subscribers.

Melanie holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from DePauw University, where she graduated with a 3.91 GPA and was recognized as a Phi Beta Kappa member. She has also completed Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy (CAP) courses from The American College of Financial Services.

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