Member Story

AFP Member Spotlight: Paul A. Dunne, CFRE

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Paul Dunne

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 Paul A. Dunne, CFRE, philanthropic advisor for The Nonprofit Group. He shared with us how he got into consulting, and how being a part of the AFP Faith-Based Affinity Group has inspired him. 

Q: How did you start your career in the fundraising profession and what led you there?
A: Back in April of ’99, I was living in Denver when the Columbine tragedy happened. I had done some concert promotion along with my other career and promoted a concert with proceeds going to the victims. About 2 years later, 9/11 happened and I just realized that I needed to do something more. I had been a donor to the Denver Rescue Mission (they would receive concert proceeds) and in a donor call from their development officer, he asked me if I wanted to work for them — so I did.

Q: What are you doing in your current role?
A: I am currently a consultant after getting dragged into the field. I was on staff at different nonprofits throughout my career in healthcare, academic, and the human services arena, but was asked by peers to assist them in their fundraising and before I knew it, I was a consultant.

Q: What do you enjoy most about the fundraising field?
A: I am so proud to be a fundraiser. I get to work with so many different and impactful organizations. I sincerely believe that there would be no students graduating from universities, no patients being treated, no animals rescued, no distraught people being served, and no artistic entertainment, if not for the tireless work of the fundraisers. My fellow laborers impress and inspire me every single day.   

Q: When and why did you decide to become an AFP member?
A: A great friend of mine, DeAnn Acosta, of the AFP Colorado Chapter, introduced me to AFP. I don’t think it was ever even a thought not to become a member. My thinking always fell along the path of, “If I was a physician, I would be part of the AMA,” so as a fundraiser it was imperative for me to become a member of AFP.

Q: How has AFP helped you in your career?
A: AFP has helped me from the very beginning, in every single area of my professional life. Starting out, I needed just to know the best practices to do the job I was hired to do. As I grew in the profession, AFP has been the knowledge base for just about every single move I make, from picking direct mail companies and consultants, to searching for my next position, to learning how to be more inclusive in my daily life. I am thankful for the strategic thinking AFP puts into career development.

Q: What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: I am very thankful for the organizations that have entrusted their development growth to me.  Whether it was as an on-staff fundraiser or consultant, I never take for granted that trust. It has been my pleasure to learn about so many different types of inspirational nonprofits.

Q: How has networking with peers in your vertical through the affinity groups benefited you?
A: It has been one of the highlights of my career to be associated with the Faith-Based Affinity Group. Unfortunately, at this specific time, sometimes the word “faith” is looked at as a negative. I was so fortunate to facilitate this group at AFP ICON this past year. What an amazing group, from all areas of the fundraising profession. There were representatives from many of the major religious organizations — Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, and others — all with the same message, “We must work together. If this group of fundraisers can’t get along and serve together, what chance does the rest of the world have?” This meeting made me want to be not only a better fundraiser, but a better person. 

Q: What advice do you have for other fundraising professionals or people interested in getting into the field? 
A: I was asked once what word I would use to describe me. My answer, “I hope LEARNING.” That’s the advice I would give, be a constant learner. I would also be remiss if I didn’t say, give to the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy.  It is imperative to ensure this foundation is thriving to guarantee that generations of young fundraisers can continue to receive the guidance that is critical for their growth.

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