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AFP: Creating Fundraising Leaders

May 14, 2012

I entered the AFP International Conference last month a mere fundraising professional, and departed as a fundraising leader.  What’s the difference? Conference sessions reminded me that I learned many of the most critical fundraisingskills during childhood.  For example, Girl Scouts taught me to “make new friends and keep the old.”  As a consultant, I help my clients identify cost-effective techniques to welcome new donor prospects into their constituencies while at the same time maintaining targeted, engaging communications with current and lapsed donors.   My parents told me, “treat other people the way you would like to be treated.” This taught me ethics, to always act honorably, and empathy, a valuable skill in anticipating the perspectives that donors and volunteers bring to their philanthropy.  Conference sessions taught me to communicate with these valuable supporters in the language that most appeals to their concerns.   And as a lifelong reader, I know that the best case for support uses words and visual imagery to show our supporters the transformational impact of their gifts.   Many of the sessions at the Vancouver conference gave me new insight on these timeless fundraising lessons.

As a fundraising professional, I apply the educational opportunities through AFP to hone my skills to improve the philanthropic experience for nonprofit organizations and donors alike.  Leadership takes this one step further – creating a vision for philanthropy within an organization — and the conference provided valuable insight on transforming to action.

Fundraising leaders employ persuasion and role modeling to implement their vision for fundraising success within their organizations, advanced by the technical skills we develop through AFP.  Fundraising leaders engage their colleagues at all levels – peers, subordinates and superiors, including the Fund Development committee and Board — on the best ways to advance philanthropy.   This includes striving for organizational success through participation in strategic decisions, advocating for resources, and sharing the educational experiences from AFP with their colleagues, volunteers and donors.

For 50 years, AFP has set the highest standards for the fundraising profession. As members of this vital and dynamic organization, we can take pride that our participation supports unparalleled leadership in the nonprofit sector and beyond.  Ellen Gilligan, CEO, Greater Milwaukee Foundation and speaker at the April chapter educational session, acknowledged the leadership role of fundraisers at our meeting.  Last month (during the International Conference),  the City of Wauwatosa elected its new Mayor, Kathy Ehley,  one of our chapter’s past Presidents.  Our leadership can take us anywhere; where do you want it to take you? And the organization you serve?

Amalia F. Schoone, CFRE

In Progress Consulting LLC

President Elect, Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter

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