From the President: Communicating What We Need—The Fundraiser Bill of Rights
Welcome to the July issue of Advancing Philanthropy!
Our theme is communications, and we have several articles that focus on engaging and communicating with your donors and audience in different ways to create amazing relationships and connections. And make sure to read Penelope Burk’s take on creating added value through your communications.
As fundraisers, what we do is “communications,” and a critical part of communications is advocacy—though in this case, I don’t mean lobbying specifically but speaking out in support of something. You advocate all the time for your cause and your community, and in turn, AFP advocates on behalf of the entire profession. We advocate for fundraising through best practices, spotlighting and enforcing our Code of Ethics, and the development of research and documents that demonstrate and spotlight the impact of our profession.
AFP’s latest advocacy project, and one of the most important ways we are championing the profession, is through creating a Fundraiser Bill of Rights. We have created a task force, led by Co-Chairs Rebecca Lamb, CFRE, and Liz LeClair, CFRE, to guide the process—a task force that will be inclusive and diverse.
Why a Fundraiser Bill of Rights? For decades, fundraisers have been focused externally, developing standards and documents like our Code of Ethics and the Donor Bill of Rights that identify how we should act with outside audiences like our donors, volunteers, and others. You can argue that this external focus was appropriate, given that we rely on external sources for funding. We needed to show different audiences that we were trustworthy, abided by ethical standards and were dedicated to effective and responsible fundraising.
But over time, I think this external focus has not always served us well. It has led us, in some cases, to accept donor donations without fully thinking through the impact and consequences on our organizations. It has led us to “accept” behaviors from our donors that have jeopardized our wellbeing and health. It has led us to accept unrealistic fundraising goals and, as a result, suffer extraordinary pressure and stress.
There’s no question that it’s time to advocate for ourselves!
Clearly, the Fundraiser Bill of Rights still has an external focus—it is for donors, volunteers, board members, and others—but the essence of the message is internal: These are the resources, standards, values and expectations that we as fundraisers need from our organizations in order to be successful.
The Fundraiser Bill of Rights will address issues such as bias, sexual harassment, anti-racism and IDEA—inclusion, diversity, equity and access. The document will also address and highlight resources, best practices and expectations so CEOs, boards and others understand what we need to carry out our mission and—most importantly—how our organizations must INVEST in fundraising in order to be successful.
Fundraisers have spent a lot of time communicating what WE do for people, organizations and our communities. Now it’s time to communicate what WE need from others—the financial, technological and human resource investments needed for fundraising to be successful.
AFP’s work in developing the Fundraiser Bill of Rights is just beginning. As mentioned, we’ll be seeking input from a wide variety of voices, including those outside the profession who are engaged with philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. We will also give all AFP members the opportunity to provide us feedback.
I am so excited about this project and so much appreciate Rebecca and Liz for agreeing to shepherd this project to fruition. This is one of the most important ways that, together, we can advocate for ourselves, each other and our entire profession.