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Charity Angels: L.A. Company's Staff Are Trained in the Art of the Ask

A charity staffing company is winning over L.A.’s gala set
Nielsen gets a kiss from a donor
Nielsen gets a kiss from a donorPhotograph by Angie Smith for Bloomberg Businessweek

Standing outside at a charity golf tournament for Pencils for Kids Inc., an organization that provides school supplies for underprivileged children, Lindsey Palumbo, a 32-year-old brunette in a pink polo, approaches a man in his mid-40s who works in finance. He assures her he’s already made a donation. “You did? What’s your name?” Palumbo asks, turning toward a big white board to find a record of it. The man looks panicked. “Are you lying at a charity event?” Palumbo teases. He ponies up $300. “There are kids who can’t even afford to buy a pencil with an eraser,” she tells him, smiling. Then she looks around the room for her next target.

Palumbo, a former actress, is a fundraiser-for-hire. Along with helping pencil-less kids, she’s done cheers on a golf course for a Jewish addiction organization—where she landed her biggest donation to date, $1,500—chatted about cancer, pleaded for the victims of Sandy Hook, and extolled the virtues of planting trees in Israel. She gets her assignments through Charity Angels, a Los Angeles company that’s changing the way benefits get staffed. Instead of relying on volunteers or event planners, nonprofits hire the Charity Angels crew, 36 women trained in the art of the ask. “My husband has allowed me to be a stay-at-home mom, but I wanted to do something that was fulfilling, that would feed my soul,” Palumbo says.