President's Perspective Blog

Identities, Ideals and the Imperative of Inclusion

mother and son

Will you join me in celebrating, tolerating and accommodating diversity? I’m passionately in search of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) champions willing to party with a purpose.

April marks Celebrate Diversity Month, where we recognize the diversity surrounding us all, and I invite you to make the wise choice to rightfully recognize and happily honor the differences and similarities within the Association of Fundraising Professionals—this month and beyond.

Likely, you celebrate that which you tolerate; and, consequently, accommodate people, principles and practices you have chosen to accept. Celebrating diversity extends beyond the spirit of an awareness month. When you make the wise choice to cheer and champion diversity, consider self-identifying as a “Lifelong Learner,” so you keep front of mind the need to check yourself before you wreck yourself.

Diversity is an amalgamated evolution that cannot be contained in a box or explained in a tweet. If you want to adequately celebrate and appropriately accommodate diversity, you must be willing to share and shift power. When you move from teacher to pupil, you reposition authority to enlarge and enable uninhibited learning. Your lived experiences have added you into certain spheres of understanding and subtracted you out of others. Your expertise plus your professional experiences always equal relative knowledge.

As IDEA champions, we must create equitable space and endless grace for diversity of thought. What you believe will influence how you behave. As you critically and ethically think about fundraising and our purposeful calling, remember all thoughts are disposed to bias. When expressed with civility and dignity, even your contrary beliefs can garner respect. You can and should be different by always adhering to AFP’s Code of Ethical Principles, which requires we “treat all people with dignity and respect.”

Within our global membership of 26,000 people are an array of isolated, intersecting and invisible identities. You possess unique qualities, beliefs, looks, expressions and a personality that is distinct and inimitable. Your presence, engagement and activism feed and fosters the differences we value in our diversified fundraising community.

As we celebrate your unique age, ethnic, national, gender, religious, ability and cultural identities, we encourage you to party with a purpose by logging into the AFP member portal and confidentially self-identify demographic information so we can appropriately accommodate differences and better recognize underrepresented similarities.

Your uniqueness never competes with someone else’s uniqueness. When we think, act and communicate in dignified and respectful ways, we all win. The celebration of diversity naturally hinges upon the acceptance of inclusion, the promotion of equity and the advancement of access.

As a “Lifelong Learner” and sector-wide IDEA champion, I thank you in advance for grooving and learning on our inclusive Love Train. Our diverse party with a purpose does not require an ability to hear music. It will never demand that you dance or even impose anything other than the principled practice of ethical fundraising.

All Aboard AFP’s Inclusive Love Train!

Tycely Williams, CFRETycely Williams, CFRE, chief development officer at America’s Promise, has inspired individuals and institutions to invest more than $92 million dollars in charitable causes. Over the past 23 years, Tycely has advanced philanthropy as vice president of development of YWCA USA, as the chief development officer for the American Red Cross National Capital Region and as association director of major gifts for the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. An active member of AFP, Tycely is a past president of the AFP Washington, D.C. Metro Chapter, and the immediate past chair of the Women’s Impact Initiative.

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