Advancing Philanthropy

An Interview with David P. Whitehead, CFRE

David P. WhiteheadApproximately 250 organizations, each with nearly 3,000 members, have large nonprofit organizational memberships with AFP. One such organization is AARP, whose mission centers on “empowering people to choose how they live as they age.” Early in May, David P. Whitehead, CFRE, granted an interview to talk about the benefits of large nonprofit membership in AFP and also his dual role as AARP’s chief development officer for the past 11 years and AFP’s treasurer since January 2017.

As the old saying goes, if you want something done, find a busy person to do it. This is definitely true of David’s 30-year career in the nonprofit world. Prior to his move to AARP, he was chief fundraising officer at The Nature Conservancy, where he led a $1.4 billion campaign to protect 250 landscape-scale sites in the U.S. and 27 other countries. At AARP, which has more than 38 million members, he leads all fundraising efforts and does the same for the AARP Foundation. He oversees five senior teams, among them direct response, major gifts, and gift planning.

He describes the chemistry that links AARP and AFP as based on the code of ethical standards that AARP has adopted as policy: “This code shows up in all of our job descriptions and our individual performance objectives. It is important to our executive leadership and legal teams, and we make sure that it is current and understood.”

It’s a priority that inspires me and, in a small way, enables me to help build a better world through support to development professionals in the field. Our affiliation is important.

Whitehead adds: “We have 4 million donor members who give to AARP’s advocacy efforts, AARP Foundation’s charitable work, or both. We know that a significant percentage of our members give to a wide variety of causes, and philanthropy plays an important role in our members’ lives. We can help shepherd their generosity by ensuring that we honor the Donor Bill of Rights and support their efforts to help make the world a better place through giving.”

Whitehead is committed to his treasurer’s role with AFP and to AARP’s organizational membership: “It’s a priority that inspires me and, in a small way, enables me to help build a better world through support to development professionals in the field. Our affiliation is important.” In terms of what could be improved, he says, “I think it is important to find better ways to communicate the value of AFP to our organizations. Any additional tools, talking points, or insights could help us do that.”

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