AFP’s Consistent Presence in a Changing World
Bleary eyed, hunched over, and exhausted. This is me, as I write to you.
The past year has had its share of highs and lows. And so much change. Some by choice, some without warning, and some well past due. All, however, heightened by the pandemic.
Without getting into too much detail, I changed jobs twice—the first was to accept a new challenge and the second was to answer the call from a dream opportunity that came knocking. I also lost my father who had been suffering with pulmonary fibrosis in June, and I lost my eldest brother suddenly in October. It’s been a hell of a rollercoaster.
Still, I’m grateful. I’m grateful that I got to say goodbye to my father in person. I managed to attend both funerals, which would not have been the case a year earlier. I’m grateful that my new job with the International African American Museum inspires me every day. And even though it is well past my bedtime as I write this, I know I will get up tomorrow and will start work with renewed enthusiasm and vigor.
I’m also grateful for AFP … for you.
This past year, AFP was one of the few constants in my life, and I needed that stability. Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to serve you as an AFP Global board member. In my role as vice chair of membership engagement, I got to work with some incredible fundraisers, volunteers and AFP Global staff. I’m particularly proud of the work we did on IDEA—Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access—and our comprehensive survey on the state of IDEA in the profession working with many of our sister fundraising organizations.
I was in awe of all of you who submitted applications to participate in the Women’s and Emerging Leaders Mentor Programs. Not only were your stories incredible, but the genuine altruism of our mentors and the drive of our mentees made me realize just how valuable our AFP community is. Thank you.
I also had the opportunity to see so many more of you during our various virtual Affinity Group sessions—each one different but full of rich conversations and human connection. The irony is that it took us being confined to our rooms and offices to actually meet. But no matter how tired and/or stressed I would be going into those sessions, I always came out feeling better. Thank you.
My gratitude doesn’t stop there. You and I connected at the Emerging Leaders Virtual Workshop, where I led the panel discussion on inclusive fundraising. This was a highlight of my year, not only because I got to lead a discussion with Juan McGruder, Jeannie Sager, and Casey Saunders, CFRE, but because I got to interact with you, answering your questions and, hopefully, lightening your burden just a bit. Again, thank you.
There was so much more. AFP ICON Virtual. Somehow we managed to feel like a united community despite the distance. And, of course, AFP LEAD, where we met, finally, in-person, the first such meeting for AFP in over two years. A bit wary and weary, but also so energized to see old friends and meet new ones in-person, not just using a computer screen.
Finally, I am grateful for my chapter, the AFP South Carolina Lowcountry Chapter. Throughout the year, my chapter has been resilient. It hosted monthly virtual programming, doubled down on its IDEA efforts, and brought us all together last month for National Philanthropy Day. Walking into the ballroom and seeing so many familiar faces, I felt a comfort that I didn’t know I needed. Thank you, Barbie, Riviere, and the rest of the Lowcountry chapter board.
Change is constant. AFP is consistent. And I am grateful. Thank you, all, for letting me be of service. I hope the AFP community was as helpful to you as it was to me throughout the year.
Marco A. Corona is the chief development officer at the International African American Museum in Charleston, S.C. He also serves on the AFP Global board of directors and is the vice chair, membership engagement.