Looking Back on a Decade of Difference

October 12, 2020

kelli d kelley, hand to hold

Hand to Hold is celebrating our 10th Anniversary –  a major accomplishment given that almost a third of nonprofits never reach this major milestone. According to Forbes, over half of all nonprofits chartered are destined to fail or stall within a few years due to leadership issues and the lack of a strategic plan. 

Hand to hold is the exception because of our bold vision and the dedication and steadfast support of my co-founders, Dave and Allie Alter, our board, staff, donors, volunteers and Hope 100 members, who have been with us every step of the way.

When I started Hand to Hold, I was struggling to manage two small kids. I wrote the original “business plan” in my well-worn mom’s devotional planner while sitting in the carpool pick-up line at preschool. But what I lacked in an MBA I made up for in passion and persistence and a bold vision for changing a system I felt was broken – a system that largely ignored the impact of a traumatic birth on the mental health of NICU parents and the ultimate long-term impact on the baby and family. 

Systemic, entrenched problems require long-term heroes, heroines and 100 percent commitment. Because of the dedication of our staff, board, co-founders, donors and volunteers, Hand to Hold is now one of the leading national support organizations for NICU and bereaved parents. We are transforming the way families access critical information, resources, and support during and after a NICU stay or loss of a baby. 

Over the last decade, we have had the honor to watch Hand to Hold connect tens of thousands of NICU parents annually to life-changing support to help them heal from trauma, to help them bond with and care for their medically fragile babies, and to connect with one another in a true, supportive community. We’ve witnessed families return after healing from their own journeys, now ready to give back and help others. 

Nonprofits play a critical role in building and ensuring a stronger civil society. We, the innovative, entrepreneurial, passionate change-makers, are capable of solving the biggest challenges facing our society today, but we need funding to do it. According to The Everyday Philanthropist by Dan Pallotta, less than half a penny per economic dollar is donated to charity to address the needs of the most disenfranchised and underprivileged among us. 

Someone once called me a pit bull when it comes to fundraising — and she was right. We have had to aggressively, without shame and with pure determination, work to secure every penny we could to advance our mission year over year.  I am so grateful for all those who care enough about NICU babies and their families that they are willing to open their hearts and their checkbooks to support Hand to Hold, even when I had little more than a big idea and a business card.

Your continued support has allowed us to touch the lives of hundreds of thousands of NICU parents across the country and around the globe. We have come so far and accomplished so much, but we still have far to go. We have a Bold Vision for 2021 and the decade to come, and we need your help to get there.

To celebrate a Decade of Difference, I invite you to two very special events:

Hand to Hold 2020 State of the Union Presentation

Join me for a special update on Hand to Hold 2020, how we’ve pivoted during COVID-19 to serve more families than ever before, and a look ahead to what we have planned for 2021! RSVP to one of the two presentation times:

Tuesday, October 13, 9 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. CDT

Wednesday, October 14, 12 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. CDT 

Hand to Hold’s 10th Anniversary Celebration Week

This year we’re bringing the fun to you – virtually! Join us for our 10th Anniversary Online Celebration throughout the week of October 12 – 16! You’ll get exclusive access to exciting raffle prizes, incredible auction packages, our famous Diaper Pull game, and musical cameos from Randy Rogers, The Mrs. and more, all from the comfort of your own home. Registration is free for exclusive access to these activities!

You’ll also hear touching family stories from NICU families and learn more about how Hand to Hold’s mission has touched the lives of families nationwide. 

 Register today and join us on the Facebook event page to celebrate with us!


Thank you for you for an amazing 10 years! It has been an incredible and most fulfilling journey.  

In deepest appreciation,