AFP News

Paul Pribbenow Named Outstanding Fundraising Professional

Paul Pribbenow

(Arlington, Va.) Paul Pribbenow, Ph.D., CFRE, president of Augsburg University in Minneapolis, Minn., has been named the Outstanding Fundraising Professional by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP).

The Outstanding Fundraising Professional award is the highest honor that AFP bestows upon one of its members, recognizing effective, creative and stimulating leadership, as well as the practice and promotion of ethical fundraising. Pribbenow will receive the award on April 2, 2019, at AFP’s International Fundraising Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

Since joining Augsburg University in 2006, Pribbenow has helped triple the institution’s annual fundraising—from just $10.5 million in his first year to almost $35 million ten years later. Under his leadership, the university surpassed its $50 million capital campaign goal for its new Center for Science, Business and Religion one year earlier than planned. Giving across all measures has increased significantly—number of donors, size of gifts, legacy gifts and alumni engagement—and nearly every gift to the capital campaign was the largest gift the donor had ever made. Currently, Augsburg is engaged in its largest campaign in history – the Great Returns Campaign in honor of its 150th Anniversary.

Equally important, Pribbenow has transformed the culture of philanthropy at Augsburg. He helped faculty and staff shift Augsburg’s fundraising messages from deficit-based, focused on what the institution was lacking or the current condition of buildings, to asset-based, emphasizing Augsburg’s unique strengths: its diversity, academic strength, focus on equity and steadfast foundation in Lutheran intellectual traditions. Supporters, students, alumni and the public now see Augsburg as not a perpetual underdog, but rather as a bold leader shaping the future of higher education.

This kind of fundraising transformation has occurred everywhere Pribbenow has served as he has followed his philosophy of making philanthropy—the work of building relationships, telling stories, and raising funds—an integrated part of the teaching and learning mission of his communities.

Prior to coming to Augsburg, he served as president of Rockford College in Rockford, Ill., from 2002 – 2006. There, he worked with faculty and staff to launch several new initiatives and campaigns, including raising funds for the Jane Addams Center for Civic Engagement.

From 1996 – 2001, Pribbenow helped Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Ind., raise more than $136 million for a capital campaign as its dean for college advancement. His efforts led to the campaign raising 92 percent of the campaign goal in half of the planned time. He has also held fundraising positions at the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago earlier in his career.

“It has been my great honor to make the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) my professional home throughout my career,” said Pribbenow. “Here I have found colleagues and friends who share my deep commitment to AFP's mission: promoting effective and ethical fundraising.  Here also I have found an organization dedicated to serving the public trust.  I am humbled by this recognition and grateful for the noble work we have been able to do together.”

Pribbenow is more than just an extraordinary fundraiser and leader—he has committed himself to the advancement of the profession, especially in the area of ethics. He is an internationally recognized expert on ethics, philanthropy and public trust and served for many years on the AFP Ethics Committee, including two years as chair. He has written numerous articles and contributed to several books about ethics in fundraising. He is also a leading voice for continuing research in the profession, having chaired the AFP Research Council as well.

Pribbenow gives back to the profession in many other ways. He has been a faculty member and lecturer at Augsburg University, St. Mary’s University of Minnesota, the Nonprofit Management Institute at DePaul University, Wabash College, and the Managing Institutional Advancement Program at the University of Chicago. He served on the AFP Global Board of Directors and is a member of the Leadership Society, which recognizes significant giving to the association. He is also one of just a handful of members in association history to be honored by two different chapters: the 1994 President’s Award for Professional Leadership from the AFP Chicago Chapter, and the 2015 Outstanding Professional Fundraiser from the Minnesota Chapter.

“The impact of Paul Pribbenow on the organizations he has served is only exceeded by the impact he has had on the entire fundraising profession,” said Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, president and CEO of AFP. “It is fair to say that fundraising—and how we look at ethics and philanthropy—would look differently without the contributions of Paul. His work will serve as one of the cornerstones of the profession for years to come, and all of us at AFP are so excited to be able to recognize his extraordinary work and contributions at our conference in San Antonio.”

For more information about Paul Pribbenow and AFP’s International Conference on Fundraising, contact Michael Nilsen at (425) 241 – 4675 or

For interviews with Paul Pribbenow, contact Gita Sitaramiah, director of PR and internal communications Augsburg University, at (612) 330-1476 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 33,000 members raise more than $100 billion annually for a wide variety of charitable organizations and causes across the globe. 

Augsburg University offers more than 50 undergraduate majors and nine graduate degrees to 3,400 students of diverse backgrounds at its campus in the vibrant center of the Twin Cities and nearby Rochester, Minn., site. Augsburg educates students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. An Augsburg education is defined by excellence in the liberal arts and professional studies, guided by the faith and values of the Lutheran church, and shaped by its urban and global settings.

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