Celebrating Our Countries’ National Days

boy celebrating 4th

Over the past week, we’ve celebrated both Canada Day and U.S. Independence Day. Both are opportunities to honor the founding of our countries and the principles and values they espouse.

But this year, there are so many questions about what it is our countries represent. What does it mean to be “free,” and what does a just, fair and equitable society look like?

I’m originally from Denmark, but was born an American citizen through my father, a World War II veteran. I moved to the U.S. at the age of 17 and chose to stay here because there are so many opportunities available. I so much appreciate what this country has given me, and the 4th of July is an especially important and poignant time for me.

I think the U.S. and Canada are incredible countries, and there are few places that are better suited to address issues related to racism and social justice. Our democratically elected governments and strong nonprofit sectors help to ensure that different voices are heard. I’m heartened by the recent Independent Sector survey that found that more than 80% of Americans are confident in nonprofits to help strengthen society. We have a critical role to play in the conversations that are happening in our countries now.

But there is so much work to do—to unravel centuries of dramatic inequality—and our organizations must be prepared to do far more than what we have done in the past. It has to start internally as we look at traditional systems and processes that have propped up inequity and inequality. We need to be willing to look at what we can do in our spheres of influence. For example, what can AFP do to maximize impact in the areas we can do the most good—namely the fundraising profession and the philanthropic sector?

Our conversations about the impact we can have will continue this month with our AFP Global Board and AFP Canada Board Meetings, all happening virtually. And I hope you had a chance to participate in our recent anti-racism town hall—you can listen to the recording here. I will keep you all updated on these discussions, and more importantly, our goals and plans moving forward.

We all love our countries, and with good reason, but it should never be a blind love. We can and should celebrate everything our countries have done while still being aware of where we can do better—where we MUST do better.

I hope you enjoyed celebrating your country’s holiday, and as always, feel free to email me with any comments, concerns and questions.

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