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Getting to Know Emily Mapes – From AFP Collegiate Chapter Member to Development Coordinator, Thanks to AFP Connections

Emily Mapes 200x299Emily Mapes was your typical college student, interested in making a difference but not quite sure how. Enter AFP and the International Conference on Fundraising. Now she has a new job and a great fundraising network. Read on to find out how it happened and what you can learn for your own career!

1.)   What made you have such an interest in fundraising and nonprofits?

I’m from a very small town in Oklahoma and a lot of my friends in college made fun of me because I originally had no idea that you could make a career out of working for nonprofits—despite the fact that I volunteered for nonprofits in high school. I attended University of Oklahoma (OU) and they had a student group and a program revolving around nonprofits, so I got involved that way. Originally, I entered OU as pre-law because I just knew that I wanted to make a difference. But once I found the nonprofit sector and figured out that it was a profession, I knew it would be a more direct way to make a difference.

2.)   How and why did you get involved with AFP?

During the spring of my freshman year is when they kicked off the AFP OK, Sooner Collegiate Chapter at OU. My college advisor said, “If you want to be involved in nonprofits, you have to know about fundraising”—it made sense! By my sophomore year I became president of the AFP collegiate chapter. I found that it was the gateway to having success in the nonprofit world.

3.)   Can you tell us a little bit about your current role at CASA?

CASA of Oklahoma County is a national nonprofit, and the largest CASA in our state. It serves three times as many cases as any other CASA programs in the state. I’m the development coordinator—the one person doing all the fundraising and marketing, with some minor assistance. We have 17 employees with about a $900,000 budget. To build my experience, I worked through college and fundraised for OU making cold calls, and then got an internship for the university’s annual giving program and working on their social media. My chances of getting jobs in the fundraising and nonprofit sectors throughout college were increased due to my contacts through the local and collegiate AFP chapters.

4.)   Do you feel as though it would have been hard to get a job right out of college if not for your contacts through AFP?

ABSOLUTELY. Going in to some of these interviews, the organizations were probably surprised by my age. But because I had spent so much time talking-the-talk and walking-the-walk from what I learned through AFP, I was able to show that I knew the ins-and-out, and so they took me more seriously. Because of AFP I was able to skip the entry level position. I probably never would have gotten the job I wanted right out of college without the guidance and experience from AFP.

5.)   2012 marked your first conference with AFP. What sparked your attendance?

The Numrich Endowment Collegiate Scholarship sent me to the Vancouver conference. I received amazing support from the AFP Oklahoma Chapter, specifically Damon King, CFRE, who encouraged me to apply and even helped me through the whole process of finding flights—a daunting task for a girl from a small town. The chapter even helped with travel costs. I worked my way through college—two jobs—to pay for things, so I didn’t have the means to go on my own. I’m so thankful for having been given that opportunity to spark my career in the nonprofit sector.

6.)   What was your experience at your first conference? What did you gain from attending?

I got to meet with the other chapter collegiate members, which was great. I remember that Andrew Watt [President and CEO of AFP] walked in the room and we were all in awe—that was pretty cool. I met a ton of people at the AFP Tweet-up, and before I knew it the AFPeeps were tweeting out, “@Emthesooner needs a job, she’s graduating!” I couldn’t believe how much it blew up.

I learned so much through the professional chapter and my collegiate chapter experiences, but my experience at the conference was especially important because it gave me the edge to apply for jobs that summer. I learned so much from talking to people in the field at the conference about how to apply and what to do and say. It helped to talk to them beforehand—and even after I got the job, I continued referring to them as a resource to help me through the whole process.

7.)   You came back to the conference in 2013. Why? How was it different this time around?

I learned SO much in 2012 overall, and because of the people I met last year I wanted to come back. I knew some would be returning, and that there would also be a chance to meet new people.

I love the conversations. As a small development director you can feel a little alone in the world. Coming to the conference shows you that you’re not alone—there’s a whole community available to you. In 2012 I was really new to fundraising and I was so fortunate because of the guidance offered, whereas this year—going back as a professional—the conversations were different because I had actual fundraising experience and issues to talk about and was actually able to contribute to the conversation. I felt like I was actually able to give back, which was my whole goal.

8.)   You are quite the supporter of the AFPeeps. Why do you think it’s important for you, and your generation as a whole, to have such a presence on social media?

I think for fundraisers especially it’s such a resource. I can get daily career development—I do, on my lunch break—to give me a mini-burst of energy, and it helps me evolve throughout my day and gives me guidance. As professionals social media is important because it connects us. Some people do use it irresponsibly and people have to remember that it’s a conversation and you need to be respectful and mindful. I use it as a tool to give back and mentor my peers.

9.)   Do you plan to continue to be involved with AFP and attend conferences?

Yes, I definitely plan to stay involved. I’m currently on the National Philanthropy Day committee at my local chapter. I’m also submitting to present with two other speakers at the 2014 AFP International Conference on Fundraising in San Antonio! The camaraderie from the members at the chapter is so important. It’s not just about the educational portion but the networking. It’s a family and a community. I love attending the events at the local and national level so I can share with those in the sector and community.

10.)   If you could say one thing to your peers as to why it’s so important to be involved, what would you say?

Talk to as many people as you can. Learn from your peers, and the connections you make at AFP. It’s essential to your success in the nonprofit sector. 

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