145: Breaking the Fundraising Mold: Empathy and Design Thinking in Action with Sheryl Cababa

This episode is sponsored by:

watch on youtube


“Human centered design, I think a lot of people assume, like, there’s an equity component built into it, but I don’t actually think there is. If you’re just focused on end users, you’re not really thinking necessarily about fairness, which is a big component of equity, right? Fairness across differences. ”

– Sheryl Cababa
Episode #145


In this episode of What the Fundraising Podcast…

Do you want to enhance your design practices and create more equitable outcomes for marginalized communities? Are you seeking a solution to incorporate human-centered design into your nonprofit organization? Look no further! Our guest, Sheryl Cababa, will be sharing the key to achieving improved design practices and fostering greater equity in the nonprofit sector. Join us as we explore how to create meaningful impact and drive positive change within your organization, resulting in more inclusive and equitable outcomes for all.

Sheryl Cababa is a staunch believer in human-centered and equity-centered design. Pioneering her way through the design landscape, Sheryl currently leads as the Chief Strategy Officer at Substantial, a transformative design studio ensuring that design solutions are informed by the real lived experiences and contexts of the end users. With a design background shaped by industry giants like Microsoft and Philips, she has a unique ability to understand and weave the intricacies of design thinking with profound empathy for human experiences. Sheryl is particularly focused on uplifting historically marginalized voices in the education sector, crafting tools and solutions that approach the user experience innovatively and equitably.


Sheryl Cababa


  • Many thanks to our sponsor, Constant Contact for making this episode possible. Our friends at Constant Contact provide nonprofit leaders like you with cutting-edge email and social media management tools. Want to craft emails that shine on every device or manage your social media effortlessly? And for those moments you’re at a loss for words, their AI Content Generator, powered by ChatGPT, delivers engaging messages in mere seconds. For a platform that amplifies your marketing, saves time, and drives growth, look no further than Constant Contact. Get started with your risk-free trial using the promo code ‘MALLORY’ for 30% off your first three months. Discover more at www.constantcontact.com/mallory.
  • If you haven’t already, please visit our new What the Fundraising community forum. Check it out and join the conversation at this link.
  • If you’re looking to raise more from the right funders, then you’ll want to check out my Power Partners Formula, a step-by-step approach to identifying the optimal partners for your organization. This free masterclass offers a great starting point

Brought To
you By:




Get to know Sheryl Cababa:

Sheryl Cababa is the author of Closing the Loop: Systems Thinking for Designers. She’s a design researcher and strategist, and is the Chief Strategy Officer at Substantial, an education-focused research, Her focus is on using equity-centered design to help clients reimagine education. She also teaches at the University of Washington’s Human Centered Design and Engineering program, helping to introduce systems thinking to the next generation of designers.


Other episodes you would enjoy



I teach nonprofit fundraisers to bring in more gifts from the RIGHT donors… so they can stop hounding people for money. Fundraising doesn’t have to be uncomfortable.


Scroll to Top

You're one step away from getting my favorite tools!

Just put in your name and email to let the magic begin….