AFP News

Missouri Fundraiser Sara Paracha, MSW Honored as Outstanding Young Professional

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(Arlington, Va.) Sara Paracha, director of development for the North Side Community School in St. Louis, Mo., has been recognized as one of five Outstanding Young Professionals by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).

The award recognizes fundraisers under the age of 31 who display excellence in raising funds, inspiring donors, managing campaigns and dedication to the charitable sector.

Sara Paracha“As an emerging professional, AFP has been a tremendous resource for me and my growth,” said Paracha. “I am so grateful to the leaders of the St. Louis AFP Chapter and those at the organizations I have worked for—they have provided mentorship and opportunities for me to learn, lead and contribute to the community in meaningful ways. Above all, I am committed to strengthening the organizations’ capacity to serve and making our community a more equitable place to live.”

Paracha is four years into her fundraising career and is already making waves. In her current role with North Side Community School, she leads fundraising initiatives to support the school’s current programs and initiatives. In her first 15 months, she raised more than $900,000, towards a capital campaign and general operations, through an overhaul of their online donation systems and by crafting an effective development strategy.

Previously, Paracha worked for the Mathews-Dickey Boys’ & Girls’ Club and assisted in raising $4.2 million in her first two years in a lead development role. She also played a critical role in increasing special event revenue by nearly 40% and raised more than $300,000 to offset the negative impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Identifying our Outstanding Young Professionals is one of the most inspiring things AFP does all year, and the work of Sara falls into that category,” said Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, president and CEO of AFP. “She has already made such an indelible impact in her communities, and has made the organizations she serves, and the people she works with, better every day. On behalf of AFP, I want to congratulate her and look forward to seeing more from her in the future.”

Paracha is an active member of the AFP community through the AFP St. Louis Regional Chapter. From 2019-2021, Paracha received the AFP Fellowship Award and participated in the local AFP Mentor Program as a mentee in 2021. She has been an active member of the chapter’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity and Access (IDEA) Committee. Last year, Paracha helped implement a city-wide survey to understand the challenges with recruiting and retaining a diverse workforce within the philanthropic sector. She was also elected to serve on the Board of Directors of her chapter as the 2022 programming committee co-chair.

In addition to her work with AFP over the past two years, Paracha has volunteered to serve as the communications lead with the American Cancer Society’s National Young Professionals Group and research assistant for the “Equity in Education in Afghanistan and Pakistan” study conducted by Washington University in St. Louis.

Paracha will receive her award at AFP ICON 2022, the largest conference of fundraising professional in the world. For more information, contact Michael Nilsen at (425) 241-4674 or


Since 1960, the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) has been the standard bearer for professionalism in fundraising. The association works to advance effective and ethical philanthropy by providing advocacy, research, education, mentoring, collaboration and technology opportunities for the world’s largest network of professional fundraisers. AFP’s nearly 26,000 members raise more than $100 billion annually for a wide variety of charitable organizations and causes across the globe. For more information, visit

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