Advancing Philanthropy

From the Chair: Diversity Makes Us Stronger, Better

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Zoe. Luis. Miguel, Maria Isabella and Miguelín. These are my niece, sister’s partner, uncle and cousins. Born and raised in Guatemala, Nicaragua and Spain, respectively, all are identified in North America as visible minorities or people of color.

Each are critically important members of my personal community ... and yet.

While treasured family members, they also aren’t my community. Their lived experience is entirely different from mine as they walk through the world, often being treated as “other.”

This stark reality has been a primary driver of my AFP service. In sum, one powerful strategic plan objective: Create a welcoming environment for diverse fundraising professionals.

As we navigate these times of great turbulence and division across the globe, it’s an important reminder that communities define who we are, what we do, and why we do it.

Communities are made up of the people we know well—family, friends and neighbors; those with whom we work and volunteer; and curated collectives such as dance troupes or hiking clubs—as well as larger group affiliations like our chosen political party.

Speaking of politics, during these increasingly polarized times, here’s a community-building assignment, one I give myself every morning (and often fail miserably at by the way, but persistence is key!): Listen and Learn.

If someone in your community calls you out on a comment you’ve made, table that defensiveness and listen. If you feel attacked and want to fight back, put away your boxing gloves and listen. Then take a deep breath, hit the pause button and ask: What did I say and why did I say it? What have I learned? And how can I do better next time?

Above all, please remember: It’s not about you. It’s about supporting and connecting with others to build a more vibrant, collaborative, equitable and evolved community.

Along those lines, in my last column as chair, I’d like to take this opportunity to recognize a very special collective near and dear to my heart: the AFP Global Board of Directors and staff. I am eternally grateful for you and forever proud of the work we’ve accomplished together during one of the most challenging times in AFP’s 60-year history.

Removing systemic barriers to board service; requiring organizations posting in the career center to list salary ranges; and launching crucial affinity groups, including Black/African American and LGBTQ fundraisers. These are just a few of the many great strides this small yet mighty AFP team has made in building community and creating a welcoming environment. We know we have a long way to go, and I hope you agree we’ve made tremendous progress in 2020.

In closing, I’m extremely appreciative of your membership in the AFP community. Your essential work on behalf of fundraising and the social sector inspires me every day, and it has been an honor serving you. Please take care of yourself and know we’re here for you. To access some helpful coping resources, I encourage you to visit AFP Supports.

P.S. As we celebrate Ethics Awareness Month, I recommend reading the insightful article on The Intersection of Ethics and IDEA to learn more about the critically important role Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access plays in our organizations, donor relations and community.

P.P.S. Here is a compelling piece by Chair-Elect Kevin Foyle from the spring on coming together as a community; a video from our AFP ICON Summer Sessions with some thoughts on community, leadership and active listening; and a recent article on community building. Again, thanks a million and keep up the great work!

Martha Schumacher, CFRE, ACFRE, MInstF

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