Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Charlottesville

I sent a message on Monday to all the AFP staff regarding the horrible news from Charlottesville. As the situation has continued to develop, I wanted to share that statement and expand on it for all of our members, partners and supporters.
Good afternoon, everyone. I hope that you had a good weekend. It obviously was a very eventful news cycle with the somber news coming from just down the road in Charlottesville. I want to be clear that individuals who preach hate and intolerance, like those seen in Charlottesville, will never be welcome at AFP. That repulsive stance has no place here. 
Our recently approved vision statement affirms that AFP will “stimulate a world of generosity and social good.” Per the strategic plan’s guiding principles, to help accomplish that goal, we will “welcome and support a diversity of individuals and offer pathways for them to succeed.”
As a staff team, we can take pride in our diversity, whether that be our ethnicity, orientation, background, political beliefs, etc. Our strength is that we all bring very different talents and perspectives to the table while accepting and embracing those differences. Our strength is that we are inclusive, not divisive.
The very core of fundraising is all about bringing people together, regardless of differences. Working together, we can better understand each other and through that understanding, make our communities and our world better places for all—even if we don’t agree on everything.

The role of AFP means that we have individual and organizational members representing causes that may be opposed to other missions. We draw membership from individuals across many spectrums who do not see eye-to-eye on numerous issues. But we disagree with respect and tolerance, because we know that philanthropy means working together and respecting every member of our society. This is an issue that rises beyond politics or partisanship and is not bound by geography. There is no room for hate or intolerance—anytime, anywhere.

AFP is firmly dedicated to the ideals of diversity and inclusion, and the worth and rights of every individual. Anything less is a failure of our profession and our sector.


Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Moving Fundraising Forward in the UK

Ann Hale
MA, CFRE
Chair, AFP
Special Guest Post 
Ann Hale, CFRE, Chair, AFP

I had the privilege of attending the Institute of Fundraising’s 2017 Fundraising Convention in London earlier this month. It was a wonderful conference, and you can read some of the highlights from the conference here.

There was an upbeat feel to the conference and attendees were very positive. However, it’s clear that a lot of fundraisers in the UK are still feeling the effects of the past two years and the relentless criticism of the profession and the sector (and a lot of it unfounded).  A popular theme was “it’s been a tough two years, but we’re moving forward and better for it in the end.”

I’d have to agree with them. If you’ve been following the work of the Commission on the Donor Experience, which was created in response to the controversies affecting the sector, you’ve probably seen some of the excellent work that’s come out of some very honest, sharp, insightful discussions about our profession and our responsibilities to our donors. Fundraising in the UK is going to be even more effective—and more responsive to donors—because of the Commission’s work, and there’s a lot that fundraisers around the world can learn from the tools and papers that have been developed. I encourage you to read the highlights of the Commission’s report, then look at the full resources on the SOFII website.

In several of the sessions, I was struck by how advanced charities in the UK are with regards to branding and marketing to the general public. One of the sessions mentioned a recent study in the UK which found that 80 percent of bequests left to charities were made by people the charity didn’t know! People in the UK seem to know and trust charity brands more than in North America, perhaps with the exception of the largest charities. I left the conference thinking that if my own organization could do more with our branding and marketing, merging it with our fundraising efforts, we would be more successful, especially with acquisition fundraising. One more item to put on my to-do list!

There was also a lot of focus on street fundraising, telemarketing and special events—raising many small gifts from many different people. It was interesting to see the differences in the types and numbers of sessions that were offered compared to the ones presented at a typical AFP conference, something which speaks to the unique experiences and strengths of fundraisers in different regions of the world.

On the other hand, there were a number of popular sessions that mirrored well-attended sessions at the AFP International Fundraising Conference. For example, sessions about ethics, building a culture of philanthropy, and storytelling were very popular. Another prevalent topic was change management—how we address and respond to changing donor attitudes and desires, and how we can better report the impact of our work and their contributions. Creating diversity in the profession and attracting a diverse workforce were also common themes.

The fundraising profession in the UK has experienced more than its fair share of turmoil lately, but is clearly on the way back up, thanks to the work of the Institute of Fundraising, the Commission and hundreds of committed fundraising and charity leaders. Their work over the last two years is a model for nonprofit sectors around the world, and I encourage everyone to see what the UK has done with the Commission and other projects.

Thanks to IoF’s president, Peter Lewis, its chair, Amanda Bringans, and everyone at the Institute for their great hospitality and an outstanding conference.