Melissa Buller

Visiting Research Associate

University Hall, Suite 3000
301 University Boulevard
Indianapolis, IN


  • B.S. Business Administration, with an emphasis in marketing, University of Evansville
  • M.A. Human Resources Management, with an emphasis in organizational dynamics and Total Quality Management
  • Certificate in Fund Raising Management, IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy


Ms. Buller currently serves as Visiting Research Associate. Her previous work with The Fund Raising School centered on new constituent development and cultivation. She managed the direct mail, social media, internet marketing, and print advertising for The Fund Raising School. She worked with nonprofit CEOs, foundation program managers, and conference planners to develop customized fundraising training programs for boards, staff, volunteers, and fundraising teams.

Prior to joining The Fund Raising School, Ms. Buller worked in college and university marketing at Washington University in St. Louis. She served in key roles on university strategic planning teams that focused on expanding operations without increasing or overloading staff, improving constituent relations, bringing marketing effort outcomes to unprecedented heights, and increasing diversity. 

While serving as the COO/CFO for VDS Racing Engines, Inc., the company grew from two to five employees within three years serving high net worth race car collectors from across the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Monaco, New Zealand, Australia, Hungary, and Sweden. The company tripled its physical plant after six years.

She travelled throughout the U.S. and Europe to visit with clients and make presentations at state, regional, and national conferences. Ms. Buller has also served on planning committees for state and national conferences and served as program chair for the 2013 Indiana Philanthropy Day conference.

Ms. Buller has also been actively involved in the nonprofit sector as a board member for the St. Louis Junior Chamber of Commerce, Area 7 Special Olympics, and College Mentors for Kids. She also served as a volunteer big sister with Edgewood Children’s Home and Big Brother Big Sisters of Central Indiana and as a volunteer fundraiser for the St. Louis Effort for Aids. She is currently co-chair of her church’s capital campaign and a member of the AFP Indiana Board of Directors.

Courses Taught

Interpersonal Communication for Fundraising


Indiana State Department of Health Spring Conference, Indianapolis, Indiana, March 2015
Expanding Your Funding Sources

2015 Association for Lutheran Development Executives Conference, Reno, Nevada, February 2015
Women in Philanthropy: History, Capacity and Potential

CASE Conference for the Advancement of Community Colleges, Sacramento, California, September 2014
Onboarding Your Fundraising Program

Indiana University Foundation, Indianapolis, Indiana, May 2014
Fundraising for Transformational Gifts:  Are You Ready

Alpha Phi Omega, Indianapolis, Indiana, April 2014
Applying the Three Alpha Phi Omega Cardinal Principles-Leadership, Friendship, and Service to Fundraising

Carlson Capital Management, Northfield, Minnesota, October 2013
Writing Your Philanthropic Autobiography

Carlson Capital Management, Northfield, Minnesota, October 2013
Women as Donors:  History, Capacity, and Potential

The Fund Raising School, Indianapolis, Indiana, December 2004
Interpersonal Communication for Fundraising, Co-faculty

Circle City Legal Secretaries, Indianapolis, Indiana, November 2003
Introduction to Fundraising

Association for Fundraising Professionals Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, April 2003
Overview of Interpersonal Communication for Fundraising

Indiana Grantmakers Alliance, Indianapolis, Indiana, October 2002
Overview of Proposal Writing

National Association of College Admission Counselors, Boston, Massachusetts, 1995
Eleven Surefire Prospect Turn-offs and Seven Success Stories You Can Use

Missouri Association of College Admission Counselors, Lake Ozark, Missouri, 1996
Gold Medal Tactics for Managing Your Prospect Pool

Indiana Association of College Admission Counselors, 1991
The Not So Ready for Primetime Players Welcome to the Admission Profession

Various High Schools and College Fairs, 1985-1996
The College Search Process, approximately 100 presentations annually

Other Activities

Advisory Boards/Professional Activities

Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, Indiana University, Indianapolis, Indiana

  • Dean’s Advisory Council for the Organization of the new Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, 2012-2103
  • Giving USA Internal Review Board, 2014                   

Association for Fundraising Professionals Indiana Chapter, 2013 to present

  • Board of Directors, elected to three-year term beginning January 2015
  • Membership Recruitment Committee, present
  • Chair, 2013 Indiana Philanthropy Day Program Committee        

Ivy Tech Community College, Indianapolis, Indiana

  • Chair, School of Design Technology Advisory Committee, 2011-2013

Indiana Achievement Awards

  • Annual Awards Conference and Banquet Committee, 2001-2004

Washington University in St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri

  • Venture Team, 1993-96
  • Multicultural Student Recruitment Committee, 1994-1996
  • Chair, Student Recruitment Communications Team, 1993-1996

National Association of College Admission Counselors, 1985-1998

  • NACAC National Conference Planning Committee, 1998

Missouri Association of College Admission Counselors, 1989-1996

  • Committee member, MOACAC Conference, 1992-1994
  • 30% increase in attendance                      

Indiana Association of College Admission Counselors, 1985-1996

  • Committee member for IACAC Congress, 1988-1991
  • 50% increase in attendance

Community Service

Unitarian Universalist Community Church of Hendricks County, Present
Co-chair, Building on the Side of Love Campaign and Board Secretary                               

Danville Boy Scout Troop 301, present
Committee Member

Orchard Estates Neighborhood Association, 2004 to present 
President, 2009 to present

Danville Cub Scout Pack 310, 2011 to 2014
Cub Master

University of Evansville Alumni Association, 1992 to present

  • Inaugural Homecoming Residence Life Reunion Committee, 2013
  • Alumni Scholarship Interview Committee, 2011-2012
  • Homecoming Class Reunion Committee, 2010
  • Chairperson, Indianapolis Chapter, 1999
  • Chairperson, St. Louis Chapter 1992-1994

Sheltering Wings, 2007-2010
Volunteer with children’s program

College Mentors for Kids!, 2001-2004
Board Member      

Avon Breast Cancer Crusade, Chicago, Illinois, June 2000

  • Raised funds and trained for AVON 3-DAY, walking 60 miles over three days from Kenosha, Wisconsin to Chicago, Illinois.

Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Central Indiana, Indianapolis, Indiana 1998-2000
Volunteer Big Sister

Volunteers for Peace, International, 1996

  • Inverin, County Galway, Ireland-Camp counselor for at-risk children and their mothers
  • Veaunes, France -Member of construction crew that restored historic wash house
  • Opocno, Czech Republic-Participated in environmental clean-up projects,
  • Albany, New York to Manhattan, New York Crew member for environmental festivals held along the Hudson River Valley during the Pumpkin Sail aboard the sloop Clearwater.

Edgewood Children’s Center, St. Louis, Missouri, 1990-1995

  • Volunteer Big Sister to a full-time, permanent resident who was a Ward of the State of Illinois assigned to the Safe (or locked) Unit
  • Raised in-kind gifts including event tickets for residents

St. Louis Effort for Aids
Volunteer Fundraiser, 1993-1996

  • Co-hosted Dinner for Friends, increased prospective donor pool by 400% and funds raised by 400%

St. Louis Junior Chamber of Commerce, 1990-1996
Director of Management Development, 1993-1994
Director of the year, 1993
Layout Editor, St. Louis Junior Chamber of Commerce Newsletter, 1995-1996
Co-managed two largest fund raisers in history of the organization, Fair St. Louis, 1993 and 1994, achieved gross sales of $38,000+ each year, developed and implemented recruitment, scheduling, training and recognition program for 110 volunteers who worked 1300 hours in 3.5 days