President's Perspective Blog

Mike’s Monday Message: The Sky is NOT Falling

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The Sky is Falling Headline

As many of you know, I love a good dad joke, so when I saw the title of one of last week’s AFP complimentary sponsored webinars, I laughed, and then kicked myself for not being the one to think of it. The webinar was called “Chicken Little Called…And She Wants Her Headlines Back”. The purpose of the webinar was to reassure the fundraising community that, no, the sky is not actually falling. 

What do we mean by that?

Well, if you’ve read any of the fundraising news this year, you might (justifiably) be under the impression that things aren’t going very well. The AFP Foundation for Philanthropy’s Fundraising Effectiveness Project and GivingUSA reported a decline in 2022, not only in donors, but also in dollars raised, causing organizations to be concerned about their dependence on major donors. Then, AFP’s annual Compensation and Benefits Report was released, and though salaries increased significantly, they still barely kept pace with 2022’s high inflation rates. Add to that, consistent news about burnout, high-turnover rates, and expectations of “doing more with less”, and it’s easy to see how fundraisers are left with the impression that our metaphorical “sky” is falling. 

But is it?

I would like to say no, and not just because I’m an eternal optimist. As I have noted in past messages that discussed this data, there are still plenty of opportunities for organizations to overcome these challenges, if they are willing to invest in positive change. 

Some of that change can be done at an organizational level, with the same tactics that you employ to retain and recruit donors and the culture you create that fosters a more inclusive workplace. However, in order to change the bigger picture for our industry, we need to work together as one community. 

Coordinating that kind of systematic change is difficult, and it doesn’t happen overnight, but I am excited to say that AFP is taking a major step forward towards that goal with the introduction of a new program, AFP CATALYST. 
If you are an advanced-career fundraising professional (however you define it, we won’t make you date yourself 😊), and you’re interested in meeting with your peers and participating in sector-shifting conversations, then AFP CATALYST is for you! 

AFP CATALYST is our sector leadership forum, this year immediately following AFP LEAD in Philadelphia, October 22-24. Unlike other professional development opportunities, this experience is about more than just “upskilling” your own knowledge. This event will pool the collective expertise of attendees, as well as our facilitator, Dr. Gloria Chance, and guest speakers, to brainstorm solutions for some of the industry’s biggest challenges. 

One of the major topics that we’re going to be discussing is “belonging in the workplace”. Cultivating a sense of belonging has the ability to positively impact recruitment and retention of top talent, overall job satisfaction, employee morale, and the financial bottom line in any organization — all key issues our sector is worried about. Looking at belonging through an IDEA and mental health lens will also help us develop more culturally competent leaders, capable of bringing everyone to the table for problem-solving well beyond these initial discussions. 

We know that these problems won’t be solved overnight. But I firmly believe that if we put our heads together, we can keep the sky where it belongs for a little while longer. 

In the meantime, as always, please feel free to email me at or connect with me directly on X at @AFPMikeGeiger. I’d love to hear from you.

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