Advancing Philanthropy

From the Board Chair / AFP’s New Vision: Educating the Profession, Changing the World

Is AFP defined by what we do or what we help make happen?

While the Strategic Planning Committee considered many important questions as it developed our new strategic plan for 2017–2019, it was this question that I think best described our thinking as we looked to the future. The twin ideas of actions and results—our skill sets combined with the impact of our work—led to the formation of new mission and vision statements for our association.

Since 1960, AFP has worked to advance the profession through “education, training, mentoring, research, credentialing and advocacy.” That’s been the core of our mission statement for many years, and the heart of our work since we were formed. It’s all about what we can do for each member: to provide you with the skill set you need to be successful.

The role we play is important and one the profession needs—an organization whose mission is to lead the way on education, ethics and a host of other critical issues. But it’s also a role that is internal to the profession and the sector. It focuses on what we, the association, do but not on what YOU do—our members who raise funds for countless causes every single day.

And what do you do? You create impact. The result of your work is change—change that improves our world one step at a time, making people’s lives better.

That’s what we want to focus on in our new strategic plan: the transformation that fundraisers help to create in partnership with our donors. It’s articulating the idea of fundraisers as agents of change. We can do a better job of highlighting this crucial role in our own work and in our communications to the public about fundraising. We can do a better job of telling the story of fundraising—what all those fundraising tactics and contributions actually mean in terms of programs and services, progress and impact.

It’s a balancing act. We remain committed to ensuring you are ready to find success, possessing the best training, knowledge and tools possible. It’s critical that we continue to do this—to ensure the highest levels of professionalism that create trust and confidence in the giving public and make sure donations are used ethically and effectively. That internal role, advancing the profession one practitioner at a time, will always be the core of our mission.

But we have the opportunity to broaden our vision. Our vision has to be about more than us. It has to demonstrate how we change the world through our work. Our current vision statement references how fundraising will be “viewed as a credible and respected profession.” That’s a noble goal, but a fairly narrow vision. I want fundraising to be viewed as credible and respected, but I think if we expand our mission and vision to talk about impact, we will see respect for fundraising growing around the world.

Our new vision statement, approved by the board of directors in October, focuses on “stimulating a world of generosity and positive social change.” And our new mission focuses on how AFP empowers you and organizations to practice ethical fundraising through professional education, networking, research and advocacy.

What does this all mean for you? We will continue our mission of educational programming and training. But we also will change how we communicate with you, the sector and the public. When we celebrate National Philanthropy Day each year, the world is inspired by the stories, speeches and insight shared at those celebrations. Now imagine us using that sort of language and imagery throughout the year. We create impact every day, and we need to recognize what we make possible and spread the story of fundraising year-round and in all that we do.

As soon as the strategic plan is approved by the board, we’ll be communicating to chapters and members about these changes. In the meantime, feel free to email me with any comments or questions you may have. Thank you for being a member of this amazing profession. We have exciting times ahead!

Ann M. Hale, CFRE

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