Innovative Fundraiser Stuart Paskow Dies

Stuart Paskow, co-founder of the groundbreaking fundraising firm Mitch-Stuart, Inc., died after a long struggle with congestive obstructive pulmonary disease. He was 82.

Along with business partner Michelle Cohen, Paskow pioneered the use of travel rewards as fundraising incentives. The firm has helped to generate more than $1 billion in revenue for more than 10,000 clients since its 1994 founding. He worked from the East coast and Cohen from the West coast.

He remained active with the firm until recently as a consultant, selling his share of the firm to Cohen last year.

“Stuart touched the lives of so very many people and his memory will live on in all of our hearts,” said Cohen. “We will never forget him; therefore, he will never truly leave us. Stuart enjoyed life and always saw the bright side of everything — something for which to strive.” She often referred to Paskow as her “other husband,” referencing their more than a quarter-century of partnership.

In 1998, Paskow was the first sponsor to sign-on to the now annual NPT Power & Influence Top 50 gala held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. He was a fixture at the event, missing only 2019 as his health declined and he was unable to travel. The firm arranged for travel, hotels and awards so honorees from nonprofits without travel budgets could attend the event.

“I always learned something when talking to Stu,” said NPT Founder and CEO John McIlquham. “His depth and all-encompassing knowledge of fundraising was remarkable,” said McIlquham.

“There are stories Michelle has forbidden me to tell about Stu,” said Paul Clolery, vice president and editorial director of The NonProfit Times. “They are great stories. I’ll think of those times and smile.” Stuuuuuu, as he signed informal emails, always figured out a way to make a situation better. “He was the eternal optimist,” Clolery added.

Paskow was a long-time (he said suffering) fan of the football Giants in New Jersey. Born in Newark, N.J., he held onto his season tickets even after having relocated to Florida.

Prior to forming Mitch-Stuart, Inc., Paskow was national communications director at the Jewish National Fund where he became the first fundraising executive to promote a philanthropic institute as a commercial product via innovative television and print campaigns. He and Cohen created the Frequent Funder Awards Program® — believed to be the first charitable giving program of its kind in the nation — for which they were recognized in national news media, including the front page of The Wall Street Journal.

In 1993, while working with Cohen on fundraising ideas for the same nonprofit organization, the pair created and managed the American Airlines AAdvantage Fundraising® program, which introduced the unique concept of using airline miles as a nonprofit direct mail incentive and as donor premiums.

The following year, the colleagues officially formed Mitch-Stuart, Inc. and it became a full-service company, providing direct marketing consulting and creative services to charities. In 2005, their Destinations of Excellence® no-risk auction travel program opened a new avenue for fundraising while helping the ailing hospitality industry. The industry took note and honored the company with a Freddie Award (named in honor of aviation magnate Sir Freddie Laker) in 2005 for distinguished achievement.

Paskow served on the Small Business Administration Advisory Board and the New Jersey Hotel Association board of directors. He is former owner of the Harbor Island Spa Hotel in New Jersey and held the position of assistant professor of hotel management at the New York Institute of Technology where he helped to coordinate the school’s hotel management program.

He was a founding member, creator and former board member of the International Arid Land Consortium. The members are the Jewish National Fund, Arizona State University, Israel, Jordan and Egypt. Its purpose is to assist farmers in desert areas of Sub Sahara countries to use Israel-developed technology to successfully farm arid areas in the Middle East.

Paskow served on the Incentive Customer Advisory Board for Fairmont Hotels & Resorts. He was recognized as a lifetime member of Strathmore’s Who’s Who global registry and network of outstanding professionals for his leadership in the travel incentive industry. He received a B.A. in political science from Washington & Jefferson College in Pennsylvania and then attended Penn State, where he received an A.A. in hotel management.

Paskow was buried on Sunday in Doral, Fla., within 24 hours of his passing. Post COVID-19 memorial details were not yet available.