Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Women's History Month

Women have had a profound effect on the fundraising profession. Countless women have held and continue to hold leadership positions in the AFP community, from chapter presidents to chairs of our international association and various foundations. Our profession would look very different without the contributions of female fundraisers—from leading development directors and CEOs to ground-breaking consultants, authors, researchers and many more.

My own leadership style reflects what I've learned from working for leaders such as former U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee. And, of course, I take many of my cues as the interim President & CEO of AFP from my time working for our former President & CEO, Paulette Maehara. But perhaps most importantly, I am grateful for strong women leaders as role models for my eight- and nine-year old daughters.

That’s why I found the timing of our article about men in fundraising on International Women's Day to be so egregious. It is why I issued this apology immediately. Although the timing of the article's re-publication was inadvertent, it still has a negative impact. At a time when AFP is finalizing its new strategic plan with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion, the timing of the article unintentionally diminished the significance of the historic day and made AFP appear out of touch. For those reasons and many others, I am sorry for the timing and appearance of the article.

I want to assure you that AFP and I truly recognize and embrace the intrinsic value of women in the profession, and I hope you’ll give us a chance to demonstrate and prove our commitment in the weeks and months to follow. We will be examining pertinent issues within the profession—such as the gender salary gap and why are there fewer women in senior development and nonprofit leadership positions—as well as celebrating the impact of women in fundraising.

AFP’s role is to be a leader in the field, and that leadership means we need to be doing a better job of advocating for all groups and demographics within our profession, including women. Women’s History Month is the time when we should remind everyone of the impact of women’s work, particularly in fundraising and philanthropy, as well as the barriers that still exist to full equality. We’ll be doing that throughout the rest of the month. And we will continue to explore these and other issues—and not just in March, but throughout the year—to ensure that the great diversity of voices within AFP are heard, respected and celebrated.

I would love to hear from you regarding these issues. How can AFP be a better advocate for women and other groups within our membership? And what issues would you like to see us address? Email me at


Anonymous said...

What measurable steps the AFP has taken to strengthen diversity and inclusion? The "2013 Diversity & Inclusion Summit" report includes some brief action statements. But I am not aware of any further work, such as convening action committees with plans including measures of success. What has been accomplished? What are the metrics around these efforts demonstrating?

Jason Lee, JD said...

Thanks for your comment. We’ve followed up on the Diversity Summit with our Diversity and Inclusion Survey Report (, which revealed a lot about where we are as a profession and highlighted some key needs, such as stronger mentoring programs. This report is further serving to guide our future work in terms of programming. We’ve also seen great success with the Ontario Fellowship in Inclusion and Diversity program (, which we are looking to expand. Much work remains to be done, absolutely, but we continue to move forward.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing this. It sounds like, given the recent issue, that the survey findings on page #20 "Professional Association Membership" is one finding that directly applies.

Page #22 begins to approach some actions - with this unfortunate assessment not rooted in any of the data:

"Achieving appropriate levels and representation of minority groups in a profession that for many years was the domain of Whites/Caucasians is a gradual process and one that bears scrutiny periodically. "

Any process that is deemed gradual, and receives only periodic scrutiny is going to change very slowly, if at all. I challenge AFP to take this head on. Scrutinize regularly, and do not accept a gradual process. Seek out diversity across all levels of your organization and expose your vulnerabilities now around this, correction will come very quickly and so will the appreciation from membership.

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