Guides & Resources

The AFP Diversity Summit

In 2005 AFP sponsored a diversity summit titled, "A Vision for Fundraising and Philanthropy in an Inclusive World." The Summit was held in conjunction with the AFP International Conference on Fundraising in Baltimore, Maryland. The twenty participants of the summit were leaders of associations in development and philanthropy or individuals that have an interest in increasing the number of individuals in development from underrepresented communities.

The purpose of the diversity summit was to gather leaders from diverse fundraising or philanthropic associations to share ideas and develop a strategy for collective action leading to greater inclusiveness in fundraising and philanthropy.

The summit’s highly focused agenda discussed the broader issues surrounding diversity and inclusiveness. Participants were asked to set a clear, specific direction for the future, below is a summary of the discussion:


  1. How can the fundraising profession better serve underrepresented communities?
  2. How do we increase the participation by underrepresented communities in the fundraising profession?
  3. How do we improve access to formal/informal education or mentoring in the fundraising profession within underrepresented communities?


  1. The Experienced Brain Drain Problem
    • There is a cultural drain to the organization when fundraisers leave
    • Costs local organization more to train people, limiting the organization’s ability to reach its potential.
    • Depletion of experienced diverse staff from grassroots and community-based organizations.
    • Organizations lose people if they cannot offer professional development.
    • Smaller organizations lose people because there isn’t a career advancement plan.
  2. Professionals Learn by Doing
    • Where are the experienced fundraisers to help the younger fundraisers?
    • Are organizations providing internships, fellowships, and/or mentorships?
  3. Building Capacity in the Field among Diverse Populations
    • Use passion as the driver for selection of potential employees
    • Membership costs for diverse populations may be prohibitive
    • Skill of negotiating Association Membership in salaries
    • Potential for groups to work together
    • Who is setting the table?
  4. Inclusiveness
    • Where is the pipeline?
    • Need ongoing research on the potential population of fundraisers
    • Where is the linkage to the formal organizational structure?
    • How is diversity defined?
    • What is the culture’s approach to fundraising?
    • The Board’s role and the Board’s makeup
    • Market definition, defining organizational/cultural barriers to access
    • Distribution of the research of the various cultures of giving
    • Exploring reciprocity
    • Explore new fundraising processes


  • Institutional acknowledgment of problem
  • Develop a “good” business attitude
  • Cross-membership opportunities
  • Sensitizing & educating recruitment services and search firms
  • Encourage program development in the sector, educational institutions
  • Profession be more malleable and adaptable, and learning to compromise
  • Don’t make diversity a separate program but integrate it into your organization (contractors, vendors, staff, etc.)
  • Increased research on people who give and why, their motivations, etc.
  • Making diversity a business imperative
  • Provide leadership for change tied to metrics
  • Build in incentives for change
  • Ask what underrepresented communities can teach fundraising professionals
  • Explore reciprocity
  • Be conscientious of sexual orientation and gather information
  • Provide workshops on other cultures and communities
  • Get the funders in the room to step up.
  • Redefine what the profession looks like – and its vocabulary
  • Include disabilities
  • How do we identify nonprofit employment as a viable career choice.
  • Put cultural competencies into our code, capacities
  • Learn to move outside the white frame of reference, re-tune the vocabulary
  • Define success/greatness and then move toward it
  • Display courage

The concept for the Diverse Communities in Fundraising was derived from the discussion of the Summit.

If interested in forming a new Diverse Community Program

If you are interested in forming a Diverse Community in Fundraising, this is what you have to do:

  1. Three or more AFP members who have identified a need for a Diverse Community can contact the AFP Diversity Program to request that an item be posted on the website soliciting others interested in forming the group.
  2. Once 25 members of that Community have been identified, an online discussion group will be formed.
  3. Additional services and support will be provided as groups grow in number (starting at 100 members). These will include Affinity Networking Sessions at the International Conference, links to relevant websites and other benefits.
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