President's Perspective Blog

Mike’s Monday Message: #OneAFP and the AFP Community

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I’m going to start my first message of 2021 the same way I ended my last message of 2020: #OneAFP.

#OneAFP and the AFP Community are phrases I’ve been using a lot lately. They have a number of meanings, but really unify all the things that we want AFP to be, and all of our goals heading into 2021.

Its significance hit me in the middle of last year as we were well into addressing the impact of the pandemic: members were struggling with working from home, with some losing their jobs, their livelihood; AFP Global was pivoting to an entirely online menu of programs and services; chapters were starting to redefine who they were, their role and how they could best support their local members.  

At the very same time, we were all struggling with social unrest and racial injustice and learning how we could support each other in the best and most appropriate ways possible without reinforcing what we were trying to dismantle.

This is our reality and our challenge wrapped into one very complicated year.

I realized very quickly that the most important and helpful role for AFP would be the one we are uniquely suited to play as the largest community of fundraisers in the world – namely that of reinforcing and uniting our amazing community. One community, working in different areas, but unified, needing each other to thrive—because what affects one of us, affects all of us, directly and indirectly.

The idea of AFP being a community isn’t a new one—it’s one of the reasons we were founded in 1960—but the importance of having an authentic community has never been more vital, even urgent, right now. So many of us have been isolated without access to the tools and resources we typically have at our disposal. We’ve had to discover new ways of doing things, and that’s meant creating new networks of people or changing our existing networks and how we use them. We’ve had to learn how to support each other in different and meaningful ways, to take care of each other. That’s what communities do.

My number one priority for 2021 is to build on that spirit of community—to focus on the vital connections that exist between us all.

The AFP Community means creating and maintaining services that you need to flourish in 2021—and not just fundraising education, but programs that keep you feeling strong, optimistic and connected to your colleagues. This year will be a difficult one to navigate, and we will all need the support, both professionally and personally—from AFP Global, your chapter and other members—to find success.

Speaking of success, the AFP Community means ensuring that no matter who you are, no matter your age, race, gender, ethnicity, or any other factor, you will be welcome in our community—and that you will have access to all the tools and resources you need to be successful in fundraising. Fundraising is a profession for everyone, and we need new voices and new perspectives to represent and advance the communities we serve. That’s why I’m so energized about our inclusion, equity and anti-racism initiative that we intend to launch at this year’s ICON, our international conference, scheduled for June 28 – 30 in Minneapolis, Minn.

And speaking of ICON, the AFP Community means hosting a great conference that has both an online component and (hopefully) a safe, in-person experience. ICON is the largest gathering of fundraising professionals in the world, and I’ve heard so many attendees say how the experience changed their professional lives and how they felt about fundraising. We moved ICON 2021 back from its regular time in the spring to late June in hopes that we’d have a better chance of having an in-person conference, and we know a lot of people are excited to be able to go to Minneapolis.

I want to assure you of two things. One, we’ll hold an in-person conference if, in consultation with city officials, health experts and others, we believe attendees will be safe and healthy. And two, the AFP Community will gather regardless because we’re going to offer an amazing online experience where you’ll be able to hear any session you want and have new options for networking with your friends and colleagues from around the world. We will come together because that’s so crucial for all of us, our work, our mental health and our success.

Change happens all the time, but it’s clear we’re entering an entirely new world that none of us imagined a year ago. It’s during times like these that you need a community.

AFP Global and our more than 240 chapters around the world can—and should—be your community for fundraising. We were there for you in 2020, and I promise you that we’ll be there for you in 2021 —working together to find new ways to achieve success.  

Thanks for being a member, and I look forward to working with you throughout the year.

#OneAFP

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Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA

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