President's Perspective Blog

We Are ALL Leaders

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If there’s ever been a year that we needed leadership, it’s 2020. The combination of challenges we’ve had to navigate, the people we’ve need to reassure and inspire, the vision and resilience that has been required to stick to goals and principles—all of these have required strong, capable leadership.

And yet, even as I write these words, I have to check myself. What does it mean to be a “strong” and “capable” leader? Is strength always a sign of an effective leader?  There are so many ways to be a great leader, and so many opportunities for us to lead. Can there truly be just one set of qualities that can describe good leadership?

While I think there are some general principles for good leadership—and I’m going to explore those in a future message—I want to emphasize that we are ALL leaders, and we all have different leadership styles.

We may not all be presidents, vice presidents or directors, or even have the word “leader” in our title. But we can still be leaders. We can demonstrate leadership and make a difference to our organizations, our communities and the people we serve.

Because it’s not our titles that make us leaders—it’s what we do every day that demonstrates leadership. It is our commitment to ethics, the dedication to best practices, the connections we create, the way we treat others, and the impact of our work—to name just a few—that are the hallmarks of leadership.

In addition, I think fundraising is inherently connected to leadership. Think about what we do. We connect people to causes and inspire them to take action. We work with teams of staff and volunteers to ensure we deliver programs and services. We bring communities together to change the world because we are the IMPACT profession. THAT is leadership!

But there’s always more we can learn about leadership. There are always new skills and knowledge about leadership that we can bring to our organizations, which is especially important in this challenging time.

That’s why I’m excited to announce that we’ve just opened registration for AFP LEAD, our annual conference on leadership!

AFP LEAD is online this year, and it is going to be an amazing program, featuring 12 incredible educational sessions, two extraordinary keynote speakers in Edgar Villanueva and Chef José Andrés, and our back-by-popular-demand host Alice Ferris. You can register here!

Leadership isn’t something you’re born with. It’s a skill you develop as you get to understand yourself and learn from the experiences of others. Whether you’re a senior leader or just getting started in your career—or anywhere in between—AFP LEAD can help you become a better leader AND a better fundraiser.

I’d love for you to attend, and I look forward to seeing you online! And if you have any thoughts on leadership, don’t hesitate to email me at or on Twitter at @AFPMikeGeiger.

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Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA

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