Advancing Philanthropy

From the President / Twenty-Five Years

Twenty-five years may not be a lifetime, but it can sure feel like it.

Twenty-five years ago, AFP wasn’t even AFP, but the National Society of Fund Raising Executives (NSFRE). We had approximately 14,000 members, not even half of our total membership now, and roughly 125 chapters. Our chair at the time, Charles Stephens, CFRE, was the first African-American to chair the association. He helped lead the rollout of the Advanced Certified Fundraising Executive (ACFRE) credential, the adoption of our revised Code of Ethical Standards, along with a new enforcement process, and started many of our diversity and inclusion programs.

The next 25 years will be greater still, and we will be by your side, pushing boundaries, highlighting the best in fundraising, showcasing innovation, and inspiring you to change the world.

Giving in 1993 in the U.S. was over $100 billion, compared to the nearly $400 billion it is now. In Canada, individual giving was roughly $3.3 billion, and now is almost triple that figure. The internet was just dawning, and social media wasn’t even in anyone’s thoughts.

As for me, I had been in the U.S. for roughly a decade after spending my first 18 years in Denmark. I didn’t know about NSFRE at the time. With my MBA in my hand and working toward my CPA, I was still trying to chart my own course. What I did know was that I already felt blessed in my life and wanted to give back in some way.

Having the opportunity to serve as president and CEO of AFP is the culmination of that desire to give back. It’s a tremendous opportunity to use my knowledge, experience, and management and financial skills to support all of you who are on the front lines of philanthropy. In this way, I feel that I am doing my part in the best possible way.

It’s quite a time to write my first column in Advancing Philanthropy as the president and CEO now as we celebrate 25 years of our magazine. Part of the issue looks back on the 25 years and how far we’ve come, but like any good magazine, most of it focuses on what’s ahead and what we might see in five years, 10 years, and even 25 years.

There’s certainly no shortage of issues for our profession to address. While the internet and social media continue to push back the boundaries of fundraising, we are besieged by any number of larger societal, demographic, political, and cultural trends that are changing the nature of our work every day. Public policy and regulation, the changing demographics of donors, the economy—all of these are forcing us to rethink what we do and how we connect with donors. It’s important that we respond to these in a proactive and thoughtful manner, ensuring that the development of best practices aligns with our ethical imperatives.

At the same time, there are internal issues within the fundraising workplace and society at large that we should not only be responding to but taking the lead on. Diversity and inclusion, gender equity, harassment, leadership development—these are issues that our profession, and the charitable sector at large, must address, and AFP is committed to be a leading voice and pushing for change.

From the day I started, I said I wanted AFP to be the organization that leads, supports, and drives the conversations surrounding effective and ethical fundraising. I want us to be inclusive, diverse, and tolerant as we strive to advance the profession through innovation and remain at the forefront of philanthropy.

For the last 25 years, Advancing Philanthropy has showcased so much of the amazing progress we’ve made and the extraordinary impact that fundraising has upon the world. The next 25 years will be greater still, and we will be by your side, pushing boundaries, highlighting the best in fundraising, showcasing innovation, and inspiring you to change the world.

Mike Geiger, President & CEO of AFP

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