Member Spotlight: Alejandra Amaroli
AFP Member Spotlights are a recurring series of interviews with AFP members, highlighting the unique individuals and career paths that exist within the fundraising profession. If you know an inspiring fundraising professional who deserves to be featured, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this Member Spotlight we interviewed Alejandra Amaroli, who immigrated to the U.S. from El Salvador ten years ago, beginning her career as an executive assistant. Naturally a curious person, she dove into the role, taking on more and more responsibilities, until she had created the organization’s first development department. After eight years there, she has continued to grow her career, now serving as the director of resource development at the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB).
Q: How did you start your career in the fundraising profession and what led you there?
A: I came to Washington, D.C. from El Salvador exactly 10 years ago this month. My first job in the country was as an executive assistant to the CEO of the Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School, a local D.C. nonprofit which focuses on serving more than 2,000 adult immigrant students each year, many of which are Salvadoran like myself. I valued that connectedness to my community and the chance to learn about many different areas of running a nonprofit. I am a very curious person by nature, and little by little, I found myself doing more fundraising work in that role.
I was at that organization for about eight years, growing from executive assistant to executive/development assistant, to creating their first development department, where I raised funds for the annual scholarship fund through individual giving and honed my skills in major gifts and grant writing for programming efforts. In my last couple of years, I was leading fundraising, communications, and outreach.
Q: What are you doing in your current role?
A: I currently serve as director of resource development at the National Association for Latino Community Asset Builders (NALCAB). NALCAB is a network comprised of 200 Latino-led and focused community economic development nonprofit organizations that are rooted in the communities they serve. Our members are in 46 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico. In my role, I am responsible for developing and implementing annual fundraising plans for our organization, in partnership with the president & CEO. My role includes leading and managing proposal activities, partnerships, prospect research, donor stewardship, and overseeing impact assessment. I am thrilled to be a part of an organization that is making a meaningful impact in our community.
Q: What do you enjoy most about the fundraising field?
A: As I mentioned, I am curious by nature. Being in the fundraising field, you have the opportunity to learn about each of your programs and how people within those programs share what they are passionate about — including what challenges they may face. I learned early on that being connected and building community, even within your organization, is very important to building robust programs and proposals, and creating a culture of listening. I know that all this work matters and ultimately supports the expansion of options and opportunities for Latino families across the country.
Q: When and why did you decide to become an AFP member?
A: I first decided to join AFP because I was looking for a place to connect with other fundraising professionals and access fundraising-focused training. AFP also offers a space to network with others in the field and provides various avenues to connect and ask each other about challenges.
Q: How has AFP helped you in your career?
A: AFP webinars have been very helpful, especially if you want to know about a specific area of fundraising — that information is not easy to come by otherwise! I am also somewhat of a data nerd and really enjoy and value the research reports the AFP publishes.
Q: What professional accomplishment are you most proud of?
A: In general, I am most proud of staying true to my values and being able to serve my community. Specifically, one of the projects I am most proud of was a culinary arts student exchange program between San Salvador, El Salvador and Washington, D.C., when they became sister cities in 2018. I not only fundraised to make the program happen but was heavily involved in its creation. It was such a proud moment uniting two cities that are meaningful to me. The program greatly benefited both our teachers, who were able to connect with one of the communities they serve and gain valuable cultural competence, and the students, who gained new technical skills as well as knowledge of restaurant operations in the U.S.
Q: What has been your experience with IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and access) in the fundraising profession?
A: I always tell anyone that will listen: WE NEED MORE LATINOS IN PHILANTHROPY. On both sides of it! But seriously, I find that I have been the only Latina in many rooms — which can be intimidating as well as an opportunity. As we know, philanthropy, from its inception, did not directly consider the needs and thoughts of people of color. We have a huge need for leaders and fundraisers that represent the communities they are serving. It is incredibly important not only to feel passionate about your work but to find ways to truly relate and connect with the challenges we are trying to solve.
Having a diversity of staff and equitable representation of those you serve makes for more robust organizations and more effective programs. We need to work together to distribute power more equitably. This is why I volunteered to support launching the first AFP D.C. chapter’s Latinx Affinity group last year. While it is a small group now, I am hopeful we will grow.
Q: What advice do you have for other fundraising professionals or people interested in getting into the field?
A: Don’t feel like you need to fit into a box of what a fundraiser is or looks like. Remain curious and learn the technical skills needed to succeed, but remember your lived experiences are just as valuable!