Happy National Philanthropy Day!
While celebrations are held throughout the month of November—and in some cases, during different times of the year—National Philanthropy Day®, or NPD for short, is officially recognized tomorrow on Nov. 15. The day was first acknowledged in the U.S. by President Ronald Reagan in 1986 through a proclamation (and the hard work of philanthropist and fundraiser Douglas Freeman), and the Canadian Parliament signed a proclamation in 2013 marking Nov. 15 as NPD in Canada, as well.
November is a time for thanks and recognition—when we as the fundraising profession step back and appreciate all of our donors, volunteers, and supporters for their incredible generosity, dedication and leadership. More than 100 AFP chapters typically hold an NPD event, and highlights of those celebrations are the awards and honors that thank and spotlight donors, volunteers, corporations, foundations, nonprofit staff and others in the local community.
Lots of inspirational words will be shared this month about the importance of philanthropy and those involved, especially our donors. But I want to take this week’s message to thank an important part of the fundraising process that sometimes gets overlooked. And that’s you, the fundraising professional.
Yes, many AFP chapters include fundraising professionals in their list of honors, and the presentation of our Outstanding Fundraising Professional every year at AFP ICON is one of the highlights of the conference.
But each and every one of you is such a critical part of philanthropy, and your work every day to keep your organization’s mission alive and healthy doesn’t always get the accolades and recognition it deserves.
We often take for granted that, of course, people will give. They always have, right?
But here’s the reality: Most people don’t wake up every day and think to themselves, how can I be philanthropic today? (If they do, well, there’s the volunteer leader of your next fundraising campaign!) People want to be philanthropic, but they often aren’t sure how to go about being philanthropic. Or they need to be reminded of the importance. Or need to be shown just how much they do care and how much they can truly give to a cause they support.
That’s your role—and I know it’s often thankless. You get a lot of “no’s.” You get angry responses about “getting too much mail” or “you misspelled my name/address/pet’s name.” And as needs increase, the pressure on you ratchets up to keep pace and raise more funds.
I know there are many amazing moments as well. The thrill of finishing a campaign. Seeing the look on a donor’s face when they’ve just realized how much they can give and the impact they’ll have. Watching your program affect the community in real-time. Those moments are unique to fundraising—there’s nothing else like them in the world.
But all of us at AFP Global know how much work it takes to attain those moments, and we know there’s more and more to learn seemingly every day—from technology and ethics to generational differences and new giving tax laws.
So, from all of us here at AFP Global and the AFP Foundations for Philanthropy, including our staff and boards, THANK YOU. Without you, philanthropy doesn’t occur. It’s just that simple.
On Tuesday, National Philanthropy Day, as you’re recognizing your supporters, please take a moment to step back and celebrate yourself and your team. You are why AFP exists—to support you at every point in your work and your career—and we thank you for the incredible change you create every day as part of the IMPACT profession.
If you have thoughts on NPD or anything else, please don’t hesitate to reach me via email at Mike.Geiger@afpglobal.org or on Twitter at @AFPMikeGeiger. I’d love to hear from you.
Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA