Member Story

Chapter Profile: AFP Western New York Chapter

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It’s the Spring of 2017 and AFP-WNY had recently announced a new scholarship program for Young Professional Fundraisers.  This opportunity would pay their first-year AFP dues in full - both international and local - if they became engaged and joined an AFP-WNY committee.  Our key partnership for promoting this was through our local chapter of the Young Non-Profit Professionals Network.

YNPN hosted a regional non-profit summit that drew more than 100 local professionals and, for the third year in a row, I was invited to present the talk on fundraising.  After my session, I was approached by two attendees who were holding a flyer promoting our chapter’s upcoming roundtable breakfast.  We talked about the event, our local chapter and the scholarship.

Laura was working in advancement for the University at Buffalo’s Office of Annual Giving in a newly created Annual Giving Fellows position. We talked a while that day and then got together again the following week for coffee – which was followed by a donation to UB.  What I didn’t know then, but learned last month when Laura and I got together to discuss this article, was that she had only been in that role for a month, was looking for additional ways to connect with like-minded people (and perhaps was just itching to get out of the office for a day).  She had reluctantly applied for that role after working for UB in alumni engagement but was looking for her next challenge that would use some untapped energy. She didn’t think that she wanted to be a fundraiser because asking for money was challenging and let’s face it, can have an “ickiness” associated with it, but was encouraged by multiple leaders and colleagues and now she “loves it.”

Laura DawidowiczLaura was one of the first recipients of our Young Professional scholarships, joined AFP and has been extremely active ever since.  In January of 2023, Laura Dawidowicz will become the next President of the Western New York Chapter of AFP – less than 6 years after she attended her first AFP-WNY roundtable breakfast.

  1. How does the Chapter engage emerging leaders?: The AFP Western New York Chapter, like many chapters, is going through a revival of sorts. What was working or in place before the pandemic simply isn’t working anymore. The make-up of our fundraising community has changed so how do we respond? The Western Chapter continues to create networking opportunities because we feel that is one of the best benefits of being a member in the chapter. These networking opportunities are standalone or in conjunction with professional development events. We also have plans to create programming that relates to your experience in the profession, either beginner/emerging, mid-level, and executive level. We believe in promoting our CFRE study group, mentor program, and participation in committee work as a way to identify those rockstars and possible board members down the road. 

  2. What is your proudest accomplishment related to the program?: I am so proud to be a product of the Young Professionals Scholarship. I was reluctant to begin a career in fundraising and found myself at a local AFP event desperate to meet people and make contacts. Heard about the Young Professionals Scholarship offered and the required committee service component and thought what a great opportunity to get everything I was seeking. Began service on the Professional Development committee, rose up to Conference Chair, VP of Professional Development, currently the President-Elect and preparing for the President position in 2023. I am always a proponent of you get what you put into it. I know I would not be where I am without this scholarship and the chapter community that I am surrounded by.  

  3. Why is this important for the profession and the community?I think providing opportunities to engage the emerging leaders in the area is paramount to the health of the fundraising community and our Chapter. Early engagement keeps talent within the sector and helps us identify who could be champions for the Chapter through board service. I believe maintaining relationships with the movers and shakers keeps our AFP Chapter in high visibility as well, as the go-to for anything fundraising related. 

  4. What scholarship programs do you have for emerging leaders: The Young Professionals Scholarship is the best way for emerging leaders to get involved. Committee service is required, and you are paired with a mentor. I also have ideas on how to expand this with a more-cohort feel. In addition, there is a CFRE scholarship, as well as a National Philanthropy Day Rising Star Award every other year which provides a $1,000 scholarship, courtesy of Russell J. Salvatore, a local businessman and philanthropist.

  5. How has this program helped your chapter, and the profession as a whole, with leadership development and succession planning?: The Emerging Leaders program has enabled us to identify the dedicated volunteers who believe in the value of their work, what they bring to the table, and how that pushes us forward as an organization. Pipeline development is integral in the health of our Chapter and Emerging Leaders is a pillar of that. 

 

 

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