President's Perspective Blog

Persevering: Small Steps Toward a Dream

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Last Friday, thousands of people gathered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial to mark the 57th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have A Dream” speech in Washington, D.C., and demand action on police reform and voting right. Yet, just days earlier, Jacob Blake, a Black man in Kenosha, Wisconsin, was shot seven times in the back by police.

The juxtaposition of these two events has been on my mind this week. Once again, we are filled with feelings of rage, grief and helplessness as the cycle begins again. What have we accomplished as we look back on the speech of Rev. King almost 60 years ago? What substantive permanence have we truly seen in our society and our world?

It is easy to feel hopeless, yet among all our feelings, I find there is still hope. Not misplaced hope—I know we still have a long way to go, and, yes, I realize I say all this from my position of privilege. But there IS hope as we move to talk about, confront and solve these crises and injustices that plague our society.

The objective is substantive, impactful and permanent change – nothing else is good enough!!! I don’t know if there will be any one major turning point, or (more likely) a series of small steps that make this happen.

I encourage all of us to first look inward to see what changes we have immediate control over and can make happen today.  At AFP, we’re examining racial, gender and other barriers within our own internal systems and governance. That means transforming our board recruitment and selection processes. For example, our 2021 Association board will be the most diverse we’ve ever had, with people of color representing almost half of the board. And of course, racial and ethnic diversity are just two of the lenses we use when looking at the makeup and demographics of our leadership.

We’re also reviewing our hiring and promotion practices. People of color represent 46% of AFP Global staff, and ensuring greater diversity at AFP has been a top priority for me since joining AFP almost 3 years ago. This is progress, but we can and will continue to push this envelope.

In addition, we are ensuring that inclusion, diversity, equity and access (IDEA) are critical elements of our new strategic plan for 2021 – 2023. One of the four pillars of our new strategic plan is focusing on the principles of IDEA. We are committed to having fundraising become a professional destination for diverse voices and segments across sectors, and we will continue to work to attract and retain more fundraising professionals who reflect the diversity of the communities served by AFP chapters and members. The full strategic plan will be available later this year.

There’s a lot more to come, of course. The 2020s is the Decade of Fundraising Leadership, and AFP will continue to lead in this most important and critical work. I will be providing updates through my weekly message on our work because we need to keep these issues top of mind.

It’s incumbent on everyone—as individuals, as organizations, and collective as a society—to take these small steps and then continue to move forward. We must keep Dr. King’s dream—and all of our dreams—alive. Because we are all in this together. And we all must be committed to change—for ourselves, each other, and the world we live in.

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Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA

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