Member Story

AFP Member Spotlight: Ismael Paredes Ulloa

Career Development: Your Fundraising Career
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Ismael Paredes Ulloa

AFP Member Spotlights are a recurring series of interviews with AFP members, highlighting the unique individuals and career paths that exist within the fundraising profession. If you know an inspiring fundraising professional who deserves to be featured, please email

In this Member Spotlight we interviewed Ismael Paredes Ulloa, director of community partnerships, Carpinteria Children’s Project. He shared with us how he has recently started taking on more development duties at his organization and how networking with other AFP members has helped him become a better fundraiser. 

Q: How did you start your career in the fundraising profession and what led you there? 
A: I've been working in the nonprofit realm for over a decade now. During that time, I have gotten to do some sort of fundraising, grant writing, or partner cultivation in all of my roles, but it was never the primary focus of my positions. I was hired to manage programs, put on events, cultivate partnerships, recruit volunteers, and write/manage grants. However, I had colleagues that did development in their respective organizations, and I always loved talking to them about their work.

In my current position, I’ve quickly started taking on more and more development duties to support the organization, and it has really sparked joy in me. My job is looking to have me change gears and concentrate mainly on development, while still working on partner cultivation and volunteer recruitment. I've been in the position for over a year and a half and have really enjoyed the new challenges and duties. 

Q: What are you doing in your current role? 
A: Right now, we are in the midst of planning a donor cultivation event that will be happening in the last half of May. Our organization serves a specific community, the city of Carpinteria, and we are trying to get word out about what we do and the impact that we make through our work serving families and children. I am working with our grant writer and development committee to put together our first stewardship matrix and to finalize our development plan for the coming fiscal year. I am also looking to see how we can revamp our volunteer program and rekindle some of our collaborations with other community partners.

Q: What do you enjoy most about the fundraising field?
A: I once ran for office and had to do my own fundraising. I love the people I worked with on my campaign, but asking for money for myself always made me feel weird. With the fundraising field, I get to work with and support an organization that does the type of work I want to be part of. I get to take the love of the work and share it with other people in the community. I get to be a champion for the hard work that is being done on and off of our campus and talk about how that creates a stronger community for all. I also love working with other folks in the field. I've loved my time in AFP, getting to know all of these truly amazing people with their varied experiences and years in the field. They're not just folks that I go to trainings or meetings with; they are my thought partners in the work. And I hope I do the same for them. 

Q:  When and why did you decide to become an AFP member?
A: It was only a few months after I started. I started looking up tips and trainings that would help me be a better fundraiser and came upon AFP. I saw that there was a scholarship for the local chapter and decided to apply. I was so impressed by the type of trainings and work that AFP does in supporting fundraisers and knew it was something I wanted to be a part of. When I first became a manager, I was able to join a similar organization that provided intensive leadership training for 10 months and allowed us to create networks and new relationships. AFP is the same, but there is no limit to the time I can spend connecting with folks in the field through AFP. 

Q: How has AFP helped you in your career?
A: It has helped by connecting me with others in the field. I've been able to talk to seasoned veterans and others who are only a handful of years into their fundraising career. It has helped to make me more confident in the work that I am doing by being able to learn from other members involved with AFP, in both formal and casual venues.

Q: What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: To date, I think I'm most proud of the relationships I have built with donors in the community. These relationships have helped support our teachers and students in the classroom and create community events that bring folks of all walks of life together.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you and/or your peers are facing?
A: My biggest challenge has been balancing my fundraising duties with all of my other duties and making sure that they all get the attention they deserve. I'm working with my supervisor and other team members to find ways to make the load more manageable. 

Q: What advice do you have for other fundraising professionals, or people interested in getting into the field? 
A: Networks of support are so important. Making time to connect with other fundraising professionals allows everyone to keep adding to their skillset and sharpen those skills they already have. AFP and the local chapters provide that.

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