Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Ringing in 2017 With Certainty in Uncertain Times

Happy New Year! I hope you and your families had a great holiday season. So many of you were working right down to the wire on December 31st, inspiring last-minute gifts—I hope that you had some time to relax and recuperate before getting back to work in 2017.

The New Year always brings it shares of predictions for the next 12 months, and you can read any number of those posts from some great fundraisers across the Web (you can check out a few of those in this week’s AFP Top Ten).

Of course, any prediction comes with a bit of uncertainty, and that word, “uncertainty,” certainly seems to define 2017. It’s difficult to recall another year with so much uncertainty about the economy and government policy towards charities and philanthropy. In the current environment, it is possible that Congress could make significant changes to the tax code, including the charitable deduction. With a different approach to economic policy from President-Elect Trump, we are curious to see how that will impact giving levels, especially at a time when we’ve seen strong growth in recent years. 

Meanwhile, we continue to push for new giving incentives in Canada, but we have much work ahead of us as we encourage Parliament to enact those incentives, such as exemptions from the capital gains tax on gifts of publicly traded securities.

Despite this overall uncertainty, there are a few things you CAN be certain of this year. And they start with your fundraising community: AFP. Throughout the year, we are going to:

  • Offer new training and education, including pre-conference workshops, the International Advanced Diploma, and webinars and e-courses focusing on innovations and the skills you need to succeed;
  • Implement an advocacy campaign to ensure that charitable giving incentives are not only protected, but also strengthened and enhanced in North America;
  • Strengthen the work of our three Foundations in the U.S., Canada and Mexico;
  • Provide communications focused on you, your expertise and your level of experience; and
  • Highlight the impact of fundraising to the public, bolstered by a new strategic plan and new mission and vision statements. 

The last point is particularly important. Having gone through a series of branding studies and surveys, we’re shifting about how we talk about the profession and the work you do. We’re not going to stop providing top-notch education and training—if anything, that’s going to increase. But we’re also going to emphasize the societal change that you help create.

Donors certainly want to know that fundraisers are ethical, trained and professional—that’s without question. But what ultimately matters to them is impact: how they can work with your organization to make a difference. After all, that’s why they (and you!) got involved in philanthropy in the first place—to help change the world.

And that’s what we want to celebrate. The impact you have on your communities through your professionalism and training—through the skills and knowledge you use with every donor, and the ethical standards and best practices you uphold every day. Fundraisers are the catalyst—the engine—that drives philanthropy, and it’s that link that we want to spotlight throughout 2017.

There’s a lot of uncertainty heading into 2017, but we’re excited about bringing all of these new changes and programming to you, and being able to help you inspire donors and create impact throughout the year. As we roll out new programs and communications, feel free to drop me a line anytime and give me your feedback and opinion. You are our partners and the heart of our association, and I always want to hear from you.

Let’s work together to make 2017 an exceptional year for fundraising and philanthropy.


tlittle said...

Sounds like this messaging shift is moving to focusing on how we support and facilitate donor's investments and their impacts on communities and society. Long overdue - congrats!

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