In 2001 when I took my first post-collegiate job in the non-profit sector, I couldn’t imagine nearly two decades later I would lead the philanthropic profession in my region as President of the Western New York Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP). I couldn’t have dreamed I would be a Vice President directing a team of fundraising and marketing staff; or that I would be blogging for an international organization. If someone had told me I would write a successful book on annual funds, I would have laughed.
After all, like many of the young professionals I mentor, I was nervous and uncertain, and I had so much to learn; but today, that’s exactly who I am and I owe a part of my success to the Association.
Locally and globally, the AFP provides a dynamic pathway for individuals passionate about impacting communities through funding critical missions. Back in ’01 when I began this work, there was one place I could go to learn about philanthropy, to connect with seasoned and new professionals, to share ideas, and to find resources. That was AFP. It was nearly fifteen years later, I made the leap from attending trainings to serving on a committee. I wish I had done it much sooner! Here’s why.
Your local chapter has a simple structure:
- Members gain access to trainings, conferences, scholarships, mentors, resource documents, certification classes, and more.
- Once a member, you can join a committee. Committee volunteers support the work that drives the profession. Your network expands as you become visible as an emerging leader in your region.
- Now that you are on a committee, you can express interest in the Board of Directors. The board is where strategies are set to propel the profession forward. You help answer the question, “What matters most to fundraisers and donors in Western New York today?”
- Board members can move into executive positions, making you a top practitioner in our field. This process skyrocketed me into opportunities for networking. It exposed me to donors, volunteers, and executives; heightened job opportunities; and provided the chance to connect with AFP International. It positioned me to not only lead locally, but globally.
Today’s WNY Chapter of AFP is becoming a more inclusive, diverse, equitable and accessible chapter through the work of the I.D.E.A. Committee. We seek to meet you where you are and when we cannot do that, we will create mechanisms to ensure ease of participation. For example, last year we enacted a policy to ensure all committees are accessible through conference call so members in the furthest reach of our region can volunteer.
Now is the time to get involved!
If you aren’t a member, consider joining the more than 200 fundraising professionals in WNY who take part in AFP. If you are member, consider a committee. There are many to choose from. If you are on a committee, let us know if the Board is the next right step for you. Together, we can create a fundraising community in Buffalo, the Southern Tier, the Niagara region and beyond that is a hotbed for launching careers and transforming lives through our non-profit sector.
Pamela Witter, MBA, CFRE is a three-time nationally-published author and higher education administrator. She currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors for the Association of Fundraising Professionals Western New York Chapter, member of the AFP International Content Advisory Committee, and is a columnist for AFP’s global website.