welcome to the giant squid group

Chicago native, ATX resident, fundraising obsessed.

I'm Catherine, the founder of Giant Squid Group, and I love asking people for money. 

Stay with me - I've been fundraising since right out of college when I started working at a private school helping with alumni relations. I wrote an appeal letter and I was hooked - I caught the fundraising bug , finding joy in telling the story of a dynamic school with a great mission!

Since I started fundraising I've raised millions of dollars though writing grants, creating corporate sponsorship programs, planning events, writing solicitation letters, and making face-to-face major donor asks.  I still love fundraising but over the last five years I also learned that I love helping other people learn about fundraising, too. 

While I was fundraising by day, I started freelancing by night, helping small organizations raise money through grant writing, crowdfunding, and more.  I saw a common theme: many start-up organizations needed a fundraising road map, and they didn't know where to find it.  After dozens of conversations with great organizations who were hitting a rock when it came to raising the funds they need, I launched Giant Squid Group to help folks in the nonprofit world find the fundraising help they needed.

Today, Giant Squid Group serves nonprofits of all size, offering no-nonsense management training on fundraising best practices, resources, and more. And, if you're wondering where the name Giant Squid Group came from, that's what happens when you get three writers together at a dive bar and start brainstorming.

Happy Fundraising!


P.S. Questions? Shoot me an email at Catherine@GiantSquidGroup.com and we'll figure out the best fundraising roadmap for you. 

the giant squid group team

Catherine Ashton, Founder and Principal Consultant

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Catherine started her fundraising career at the Chicago Waldorf School as the Development and Marketing Associate. She caught the fundraising bug, and went on to work with several other fantastic Chicago-based organizations, focusing on using data to drive fundraising strategy and implement moves management processes. Catherine is an evangelist for donor cultivation and stewardship, and believes that saying "thank you" is the closest thing to a fundraising magic bullet. Catherine holds a BA from Kalamazoo College, and is pursuing her Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE).  Today, Catherine lives in Austin, TX with her husband, daughter, and their rescue animals and spends her spare time hiking, cooking, and drinking whiskey. 

Steph Carll, Consultant


Stephanie Carll is a central Texas-based writer/director/producer/make-believer who knows the nitty-gritty side of growing a small nonprofit from just duct tape and a dream. As founder and Producing Artistic Director of Present Company, an Austin theatre collective, Steph is well-versed in balancing artistic vision with the administrative grind of nonprofit management: grant writing & fundraising, marketing & PR, event management & design, and the hundreds of other random duties that fall at her feet. Using this first-hand experience, Steph supports clients at Giant Squid Group in all stages of their fundraising journeys with the mantra "Be bold, and mighty forces will come to your aid." When she is not asking people for money or telling actors what to do, you’ll find her sitting in the San Marcos River with her partner and their baby girl, while her two cats diligently hunt scorpions.

Madeleine Herzog, Assistant

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Madeleine is the administrative guru who keeps Giant Squid Group partner's databases in tip-top shape, mailing lists spic-and-span, and day-to-day operations running smoothly. She cut her teeth expediting passports and making sure customers were able to go on the trips they'd planned. She saw first-hand how important customer service, a strong administrative assistant, and a well-organized to-do list were the keys to success. She lives in Boca Raton, FL with her boyfriend and their two fat dogs and even fatter cats. 

Amanda AuBuchon, Art Director/Graphic Designer


Amanda is an art director and graphic designer living in Chicago. She holds a BFA from Savannah College of Art Design and completed advertising portfolio school through Northwestern University. She lives with her husband Tim, her dog Annyong (Annyong!) and her daughter Elinor. She loves dogs, vintage furniture, yoga, dogs, 19th century British literature, gin and tonics, traveling, and dogs.