Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Leading into the Future

Special Guest Post 
Ann Hale, CFRE, Chair, AFP

Ann Hale
MA, CFRE
Chair, AFP
By now, you’ve hopefully heard the announcement that Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, will serve as AFP’s new president and CEO starting today, Nov. 1.

Helping to select a new leader is one of the most important things any volunteer board can do, and it’s certainly the most critical thing that I have done during my time as chair of AFP.

It’s also a rare moment, as AFP has been blessed with stable leadership, starting with Patricia (Pat) Lewis serving from 1991 – 1998, Paulette Maehara through 2012, then Andrew Watt leading us until last year, and most recently Jason Lee serving as interim president and CEO for the past 17 months.

While I knew our search process would be long and comprehensive, I don’t think I realized how challenging, intense and emotional it would be. All of us on the search committee felt that way, because AFP is so important to us. We have all had moments where our membership in AFP, and our connections with AFP colleagues, made a huge difference in our career.

So, we wanted to get the selection right. With the help of a team from Campbell and Company, a leading association executive search firm, we determined the key qualifications, factors and criteria we would use to evaluate the candidates.  We evaluated 100 initial candidates, narrowed it down to 10 and then focused on a finalist group of six qualified candidates.

It was an all-encompassing discussion, and often we were challenged with different perspectives. But we were dedicated to having an inclusive search that would identify a final candidate that had the best set of assets and qualifications. We had a diverse search committee and a diverse pool of applicants. And in the end, the lengthy process and occasional struggles were well worth it, as we ended up with an extremely qualified individual who can lead us into the future.

Mike is a seasoned association executive and has a great array of skills and experiences that can lift the AFP community to the next level. He is not a fundraiser by training, but he understands, appreciates, and “gets” fundraising, having overseen fundraising in other programs and participated on development teams. He has strong financial expertise and deep experience in running a membership association, providing education opportunities, putting on conferences, advocating on public policy and ensuring members have the resources and knowledge they need to be successful. That’s the sort of leadership we need in our changing fundraising and association environments, and we’re very confident that he’ll do a great job.

You’ll learn more about Mike in the coming weeks as he introduces himself through articles and blogs. And hopefully you’ll get to meet him in person as he attends different chapter meetings and our International Fundraising Conference next year in New Orleans, April 15 – 17.

Finally, I’d like to thank Jason Lee for all his work leading AFP over the last year and a half. Jason stepped in at a very challenging time and helped to stabilize the organization on many levels—solidifying our financial base, refocusing our efforts on member value, building important partnerships, and re-energizing staff and volunteers. He’s done so much, and I can’t express my appreciation and gratitude enough for his leadership, support and dedication.

We’re excited about the future of AFP with Mike leading us, and I hope you are too. If you have any questions about the search process, don’t hesitate to let me know.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

The Time to Act is NOW!

I’ve been talking a lot about public policy throughout 2017, pointing to later in the year when a couple of key moments in the U.S. and Canada were going to occur.

Those moments are now. And your action is needed!

In the U.S., a tax reform bill has finally been introduced, something we’ve been waiting for all year. The plan, called the GOP Tax Reform Framework, isn’t great news for charities. While the charitable deduction remains intact (one of the few deductions that does), the plan would likely lead to a reduction in giving because the standard deduction would be doubled. That change would cut the number of taxpayers who itemize (itemizers account for 82 percent of all giving) from 33 percent to just 5 percent—or in real numbers, a loss of 30 million itemizers!

Just how bad would the impact be? Research by the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy and Independent Sector found that doubling the standard deduction would reduce giving by $13 billion annually. That figure represents a significant decrease—more than 6 percent of all individual giving—that would dramatically affect charitable program and services across the country.

Fortunately, there’s a solution: the universal charitable deduction. That same research shows that adding in a universal charitable deduction to the increased standard deduction results in increased giving of almost $5 billion. The powerful effect of the universal charitable deduction is enough to overcome any loss in giving when the standard deduction is doubled.

What can you do? Right now, Republican House leaders have set up a public survey to get basic feedback about the Framework. I urge every AFP member to go to the survey and submit your comments about concerns about the impact. Consider using a few of the talking points here.

It’s critical that our voice is heard while changes to the plan are still being considered. Please submit your comments today!

Meanwhile, in Canada, we are approaching our Day in the Ridings Event, where chapters across the country are going to meet with their Members of Parliament (MPs) in November. While we’ve been very active in Canada on specific federal and provincial issues, this is the first time we’ve ever held such a massive grassroots event.

I’ve been very excited to see the enthusiasm with which our chapters have been volunteering for this initiative. Toolkits and other materials are being prepared for each meeting, and chapters will be discussing a variety of issues with their MPs, as well as introducing themselves and offering to be a resource for legislation and policies related to fundraising and philanthropy.

If you are interested in participating, contact your chapter president and see how you can get involved. Many thanks go to the Canadian Government Relations Committee, and especially the chair Dan Brunette, for their work in putting the event together.

Fall is always an important time for fundraising, and this year it’s turning out to be doubly so with these important public policy moments. Whether you’re in the U.S. or Canada, I encourage you to participate so we can ensure that our laws and regulations support our work and the countless missions that our organizations represent.