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Discussion: View Thread
AFP Member Spotlight - Jeff Ashley
AFP Member Spotlight - Jeff Ashley
KY, Greater Louisville Admin
Posted 13 days ago
AFP Member Spotlight
Jeff Ashley, Founder & President of Ashley|Rountree and Associates
Studying journalism, I thought I would go into media or write the "Great American Novel," anything
other than fundraising. I had a summer internship at Trinity High School, and John Grenough was the
first Director of Development at Trinity. He allowed me to come in and do work in the development
office, mainly with the newsletter at first. Through that I began to get an understanding and taste of
annual giving and what fund development was all about.
Then fast forward to graduate school, and I was working for the University of Kentucky Athletics
department doing game day, media relations and operations management work. One day, the Associate
Athletic Director overseeing the Blue White Fund asked me to go on a development call with him. And
again, that gave me a little more of a taste for fund development and donor relationships.
After that and when I began to look for full-time employment, I was fortunate to go back to Trinity in a
role with the Development Office. I eventually became the Director of Advancement and also oversaw
the Trinity High School Foundation, and that was really my first opportunity to step up into a leadership
role in the sector.
What has been one of the highlights of your fundraising career?
Honestly, it's been the work through Ashley|Rountree and Associates. Being able to work with
so many great organizations and so many great and talented people in those organizations.
Seeing missions fulfilled and move forward, and lives impacted for the better. It's always great
when campaigns meet or exceed their goal, and seeing donors fulfill their philanthropic dreams
through legacy commitments. It really is the culmination of all the work we do that is the
What is your favorite part of your work with Ashley|Rountree and Associates?
Most of the work we do is in the Greater Louisville community, and we are expanding to the
surrounding region very rapidly. With that, I've been able to see and experience progress and
things that have made a difference almost on a daily basis. My wife Holly and I have two
daughters, and today one is in college and the other in medical school. Several years ago when
they were younger we went to the zoo (as we did often), and spent some time at the Glacier
Run exhibit. The first time we saw that exhibit as a family, I was able to tell our girls how
Ashley|Rountree played a role in the effort that made that vision a reality. That and them seeing
all the organizations we have helped over the years have made a real positive and lasting impact
on my children, showing them how to give and be generous, and the impact giving can have for
the good. Giving is a learned thing, I am convinced. With over 400 clients in the last 20 years,
I'm proud we've been able to move things forward to help generate more generous people and
impactful programs for our community and others in the region.
What is one thing you wish you would have known when you started your fundraising career?
I wish I would have understood relationship vs. transaction better. I learned it along the way,
and by mistakes I made early on. It's simple I believe -- when you focus on relationships, the
transaction will follow. The other thing is not taking for granted the power of great mentors. I
had great mentors and I have great relationships with those mentors still today. Early on, I
probably didn't invest as much into those relationships, so I wish I would have recognized it a
little sooner. And finally, the power of best practices. Groups like AFP are the caretaker of
ethical and best practices for the profession. I tried to do an awful lot on my own earlier on, and
wish I would have gotten more engaged with others sooner.
Why did you join AFP?
The networking. You can't dismiss that. The access to and ability to ensure the things I do
professionally meet the highest ethical standards. AFP is the gold standard for professionals and
How have you benefited from your AFP membership?
Ashley|Rountree is invested in the relationship with AFP supporting the group financially and as
a sponsor. And to be candid, it's paid off in a big way and on multiple fronts for us. An example
is that when we post job openings, we rely on the AFP network to help get the information out
to the professional community. We have relied on AFP as a great partner over years and will
continue to do that.
What is one tip you recommend for connecting with donors?
Frankly, don't be afraid to pick up the phone and call. I see too many fundraisers who rely on
passively trying to engage through things they feel are direct communication with donors, like
social media and e-blasts. It's still about relationships, engagement and picking up that phone,
making that call is a simple but often overlooked action that can move things forward. Meeting
donors where they're at and building relationships is obviously key, but sometimes forgotten
and sometimes intimidating. I would encourage folks not to forget about that and make it a big
plan of their day every day. A great habit to think about is personal, handwritten notes. I have
this on board in my office: "A Note a Day". The impact of that, I've seen, is huge. 365 at a
minimum written over the course of a year. People remember that personal note more than an
email or text message.
Do you have a fundraising-related resource you recommend? If so, what is it?
Lots of them. AFP communications and resources are great, as are the resources provided by the
Kentucky Nonprofit Network. The Chronicle of Philanthropy is also an ongoing, great resource.
Finding three to four mentors in the field that you can personally call and bounce ideas off of.
These are key resources I count on. I rely on my team as well. We have experts in just about
everything. It's not just thinking you know it all. It's having the right attitude and openness. I
value collective wisdom.
KY, Greater Louisville Admin
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