Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Broadening Who We Are...And Our Impact

This was an unusual summer for me – and for all of us at AFP International. With all the change AFP has been undergoing, we had a unique opportunity to use the more deliberate pace of the summer months to think critically about the AFP we are today, and to plan creatively for the AFP we want to be in the future.

We have initiated conversations with new friends and loyal mentors to talk about AFP’s position—and potential—in an evolving philanthropic sector. Members, peers and sector influencers had important things to tell us about our relevance and our influence. These candid conversations helped us refine our strategic priorities for the next three years in categories such as Education, Ethics and Advocacy, Capacity-Building and Diversity and Inclusion.  They even influence the language we’ll adopt later in the fall for our mission and vision statements, as well as our guiding principles.

One of the key principles we’ve gathered from these conversations is the sense that the AFP community has to be broader than what we are right now—both in terms of people and ideas. There is a heightened sense of urgency in our community to keep pace with social innovators who are upending traditional philanthropy by infusing unprecedented funds into charitable issues. The words “fundraising” and “fundraiser” carry connotations that don’t necessarily represent the knowledge, ethics and impact of the work our members do.  It doesn’t represent the sense of personal responsibility many AFP members and others feel about acquiring more knowledge, more experience and exercising more creativity to advance the promise of Good the world over.

That principle is already being integrated into some of our programs—like our annual Leadership Academy happening next month in October. We’ll continue our tradition of meetings to support chapter leaders in their important work, but we’re also transitioning the Academy into an experience that addresses contemporary leadership and professional career development challenges sector-wide. We want to help newcomers to the profession with education and empowerment to pursue an ambitious career path, while also supporting seasoned professionals in building the kinds of skills that position them to advance into CEO and board leadership posts.

It’s not just about members raising more money—it’s about being able to serve as fundraising literacy ambassadors who can influence cultures of philanthropy within their own organizations.

It’s not too late to register for our 2016 Leadership Academy in Portland, Oregon, October 20-22.  You don’t have to be an AFP member to register (but members receive a substantial discount…think about it!)

You’re going to see more of this sort of thinking in the coming months. After several months of research, we have now tremendously valuable insights about the way members see AFP’s unique value proposition.  I want to thank all of you who participated in our focus groups and online surveys. This new data on the DNA of AFP informs the way we will build on our brand equity and represent the true contributions we make to the profession and to philanthropy in general.  You’ll hear more on this in the months ahead as we cultivate a brand promise that speaks to our role as catalysts for philanthropy.

Let’s keep the dialogue going, and I look forward to seeing you in October.

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