President's Perspective Blog

Mike’s Monday Message Takeover: Fundraising: The Impact Profession

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First, thank you to the many donors to the AFP Foundations for Philanthropy. AFP has three foundations located in the U.S., Canada (EN, FR) and Mexico all raising funds for the fundraising profession and their role in the broader philanthropic sector.

What’s the difference between AFP Global and the AFP Foundations for Philanthropy? I’ve been asked that many times. The way I like to think about is that AFP Global thinks about its members first. Of course, they serve the broader profession, but as they make decisions, it’s with the member in mind first.

On the other hand, the AFP Foundations for Philanthropy think about the philanthropic sector first and in the reverse, AFP members receive the benefit of that work, but as decisions are being made, it’s the broader sector that is the focus.

What does that mean for you as a fundraising professional? It means you have two organizations who partner on many initiatives that are thinking about how we can provide important resources for you to make the world a better place.

As the AFP Foundations for Philanthropy, it is our responsibility to think ahead about what trends and issues our sector will be facing. That’s why leadership development was identified as a priority several years ago and the AFP Leadership Institute came to fruition earlier this year. This is a great example of identifying a strategic issue, partnering with the association to come up with a solution and raising funds to make that happen.

What’s the next big issue? We don’t know the answer to that yet, but the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy has a strategic plan 2023-2025, where one of the goals is to identify what the next big thing is for the sector. We must be thinking about this now, while it is still in infancy and while we continue to work on our current big thing, leadership development.

Some of the areas that I see on the forefront are:

  • Research: The Fundraising Effectiveness Project (FEP) which has been around since 2006, is now a collaborative program with GivingTuesday. What makes this research different than any other out there is that it includes current data, based on anonymized transactions that our data providers collaborate on for the greater good. Another unique aspect to this research is its longevity. Having more than ten years of data allows for longitudinal analysis like no other. 

    But is FEP enough? No. If we are to be strategic as a sector, we must promote and provide resources for the creation of new research through grants to researchers, that is then translated into practical use for fundraising professionals.  
  • Unrestricted Funding: This is an issue that will and is affecting many small nonprofits. As donors make larger gifts, they want their funds designated for a specific purpose. That’s where the donor’s passion comes into play, but we must change the narrative and make sure that donors understand that we must raise unrestricted dollars to run the nonprofits that provide so much in our communities.
  • Leadership Development: We are knee-deep in the leadership gap affecting the sector. As Baby Boomers retire, it is strategic that we have qualified fundraising leaders to step into the senior positions at nonprofit organizations. This doesn’t necessarily mean the CEO position, it can, but at a minimum the fundraising professional needs to be at the senior staff table. Connect the dots. If we don’t have qualified fundraising professionals to replace those retiring, the nonprofits won’t raise as much money, which means they won’t be able to offer as many programs, and that can affect quality of life for our communities. We must make sure that doesn’t happen!

Ensuring the health of the nonprofit sector requires urgent steps to better connect the community of donors to the needs that they hope to fill. Doing this requires that the fundraising professionals working at the intersection between nonprofits and the philanthropic community have the tools needed for success, the vision to lead, and the skills to help raise the sector to higher levels of effectiveness and productivity.

Your investment helps with the development and implementation of high-quality programming and resources to address the critical challenges facing the nonprofit sector.

Thank you for your support, it truly makes a difference for the profession in which you have invested in both financially and through your ethical participation.

If you would like to make a gift, whether it is your first-time, or an additional gift, here are the links.

AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – U.S.  

AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Canada

AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Mexico

Thank you.

Lori Gusdorf, CAE
Executive Vice President
AFP Foundations for Philanthropy

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