Member Spotlight: Francis Asprec
Francis Asprec is a grants and membership coordinator specialist at the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF) in New York, NY.
How did you start your career in the fundraising profession and what led you there?
My journey into the fundraising profession started roughly over a decade ago where I was indirectly introduced to it. At the time, I think a friend or colleague mentioned fundraising to me because I liked talking to people and inviting them to support specific causes or initiatives. It would not be until 2014-2015 that I started working in nonprofit spaces where fundraising was a core and crucial element within capacity building and community relationships. From 2016 until 2019, I gained more professional experience and greater immersion within fundraising and development where I did my best to learn every important tool possible (grant writing, Raiser’s Edge, event planning, peer-to-peer fundraising, volunteer management).
Afterward, I took a break from professionally working within fundraising and did consulting work for three years within youth development where I did case management, program management, and program evaluation. While I’m grateful to have shifted gears a bit, I missed working and being in the philanthropic space from time to time. In mid-late 2021, I was able to rediscover my joy and love for philanthropy again through some key connections I made within and outside AFP which eventually started my comeback journey into fundraising, development and philanthropy overall. The missing factor that ignited my return to the field was my personal love for stewardship and cultivation!
How did you learn about the AFP Affinity Group Program?
I learned of the AFP Affinity Group Program through a current AFP member that I met in October 2021. At the time, I attended an event where the discussion was about engaging and sustaining board members. Somewhere in that presentation, I heard someone talking about how board members, along with other key stakeholders, should be seen both short and long-term as engaged allies, strategic consultants and collaborators.
After hearing that, I felt my eyes opening wider, my smile growing bigger and my heart growing fonder realizing that I needed to be connecting and talking to this person more. Following the presentation, I was able to connect with this person on LinkedIn, and we were able to have a 1:1 meeting via Zoom. Through that meeting, they told me they were part of an AFP Affinity Group called AFP API Affinity Group, and the next meeting was in November 2021. I immediately signed up and two weeks later attended the meeting. At the AFP API Affinity Group Meeting, I felt a sense of comfort, relief and gratitude that I was able to meet other folks whom I could relate to professionally and personally. It was at this meeting that I signed up officially for AFP membership!
From there, I joined another AFP Affinity Group called AFP Faith-Based Affinity Group and that also became a missing link for what I was looking for both professionally and personally. It was in both of those affinity groups that I truly felt the calling to give fundraising, development and philanthropy a second chance where one uses empathy, compassion, stewardship, cultivation, and of course, joy!
How did the program help you connect with your passion?
Through the two AFP Affinity Group Meetings I attended, I was connecting with folks who were sharing their joys and struggles within the fundraising, development and hilanthropic professions. I think the two most common topics we talked about at the meetings were that there wasn’t enough Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) representation within the fundraising and development space, and that faith-based organizations need more cohesive sounding structure when it came to greater stewardship and cultivation. I think discussing those two areas made me realize how much I wanted to be back within the philanthropic space where advocacy and social justice could be highly infused. If I was going to give fundraising and development a second try, I was going to make sure I could leverage my own past professional experiences while also embracing new elements within stewardship and cultivation, program evaluation and quality data control.
How has AFP helped you in your career?
AFP has helped me in my career thus far specifically through the AFP Affinity Groups, online Forums and free webinars that are offered. AFP membership is a serious time and financial investment where I want to continue strategically aligning myself with key folks in the field, along with getting more valuable and relevant professional development tools to make me more effective in this field.
What is a current challenge you or your peers are facing in your professional fundraising career?
Right now, I think fundraising during a pandemic can always be a challenge because it tests your will, capacity and capability to still perform well despite unpredictable and unexpected moments. Yet, I’m inspired and motivated when I hear stories about organizations who have successfully fundraised or met their goals despite encountering major obstacles. I think the true spirit of charity is the spark that makes fundraising even more crucial and vital both professionally and personally.
Another challenge within the fundraising profession is that the representation of minorities within the fundraising space (especially AAPI) is still disproportionately low (less than 10% according to a 2018 Demographic Report done by AFP). During my first phase of working within fundraising and development, I was the only AAPI person on my team, and at times it was hard to find someone I could relate and empathize with. Fast forward to now, I’m thankful to be in a different space where I’m finding folks whom I could relate to both professionally and personally. Yet, there is still more work to be done where we must continue to break and dismantle the stigmas, biases, -isms, and barriers so that people of color can feel more inclusive, belonging, accessible and valued within the fundraising profession. We still have a long way to go, but I remain both hopeful and optimistic that the representation of minorities within fundraisingcan be above 10% within the next five to ten years.
What accomplishment are you most proud?
In relation to fundraising, my greatest accomplishment is my annual birthday fundraiser on Facebook where I fundraise for my favorite nonprofit organization in New York City (Meatloaf Kitchen – University Community Social Services). Over the past five years, I’ve noticed that not only are more folks contributing to Meatloaf Kitchen (the last one being close to $400), but also how folks want to be more proactively involved. It truly warms my heart that my own love for fundraising is translating to the spirit of folks wanting to be a positive agent of change for our communities, our society and our world.
How has AFP and the community (AFP Global and/or your chapter) helped you with your success?
At the end of the day, it’s about strategically aligning myself with key folks, along with being involved in any and every event possible (especially if it’s free!). If it wasn’t for that meeting where someone told me about the AFP API Affinity Group in Fall 2021, I would not be embracing and enjoying my new opportunity at the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families. The lesson learned from the time I joined AFP in November 2021 was to always believe in yourself, bet on yourself, trust yourself and never give up.
What is your dream job?
I’m already living the dream now as a grants and membership coordinator specialist at the Coalition for Asian American Children and Families (CACF). In the long run, I foresee myself being in a position such as either chief philanthropic officer or chief program officer for any youth-based development organization.
Other thoughts you would like to share with the AFP Community?
Thank you for letting me be a part of this incredible space. It took a long time (more than 5-10 years) to finally be a member and realize this is where I should have been all this time! I look forward to growing further in the AFP community even more!