Youth in Philanthropy Newsletter (Summer 2013): AFP Chapter Spotlight AFP Alaska Chapter
It’s All About the Shoes
I was admiring a rather nice pair of shoes I had just purchased the day Ann Hale, the newly elected chair of the membership services division for AFP international, called. And I’ve learned, when Ann Hale comes calling, it’s with something meaningful, something with purpose and vision and something that would require sturdier shoes than these.
“I want you to solicit the chapter board to create a Youth in Philanthropy board position,” Ann said. Now, I was on the comfortable downward slide of my board service for the chapter after having served two years as the chapter’s Interior Alaska Representative and then the chapter president. I was enjoying my year as immediate past president—looking forward to other ways to serve AFP Alaska and AFP international. I was relishing the fact that I had finally traded in my comfy clogs (the ones that allowed me to run at full speed for the chapter) for these flashy, girly shoes. But, Ann beckoned, “It’s a priority in our strategic plan.” Enough said.
Alaska Curriculum Participants Raise Dollars by Lifting Weight
The winning team in the Alaska Chapter’s YIP Program’s “Lift-a-Thon”
Senior Aaron Betts and junior Garrett Bennett show their hand-made weight-lifting medals
A group of high school athletes at North Pole High School in Alaska, participated in the AFP Alaska Chapter’s Youth in Philanthropy program, Making a World of Good© during the spring semester of 2013.
The participants identified two areas of need in their town: community cohesion and hunger. Recognizing that, in a small town, the North Pole High School Football Team does a lot to bring the community together and increase community spirit, the group decided they wanted to raise money for a needs-based scholarship for a local student to be able to play football. They also decided to raise awareness about hunger, especially teen hunger.
After learning about philanthropy, giving and community needs, the students created their fundraising project, the "Lift-a-Thon." They secured pledges for donations based on the amount of weight they planned to lift and also asked for a similar amount in food donations. They held the event on a Saturday and recruited the entire football team and all the coaches to participate. They divided into three teams and then started off with light weights, doing as many repetitions as they could, then built up the weight from there.
The students raised $750 in donations and 226 pounds of food, all while learning about making a difference in their community through philanthropy.
I sighed as I placed my new lovely shoes back in their box and slid on my comfy clogs. I put forth a proposal to add a board position for the 2010 AFP Alaska Chapter board election and volunteered to be the first chair. I joined the Youth in Philanthropy Subcommittee of the membership division and soon learned that the simple act of creating a board position for Youth In Philanthropy put us ahead of the curve.
For years, AFP Alaska has been giving out a Youth in Philanthropy Award during our National Philanthropy Day® (NPD) celebration—for 16 years, in fact. But until two years ago, it wasn’t part of the Youth in Philanthropy program. Until two years ago, Youth in Philanthropy was just that, an award. Now, armed with a massive toolbox of all things YIP from the AFP website, www.afpnet.org, (including a proven curriculum, the AFP international strategic plan and the AFP Alaska strategic plan) and my comfy clogs, I set out to engage the next generation about fundraising and philanthropy.
The first year was hard. However, I didn’t have to convince the Alaska chapter board of the importance. That was the easy part. The position came with a volunteer—me—which meant no extra work for existing board members. The hard part was convincing educators that they needed philanthropy in their classrooms. Public school educators are so busy working to meet state and national standards that getting a foot in the door was difficult. Trying to convince Anchorage educators (calling long distance) was impossible. I had to get in front of people, but the Alaska chapter is a statewide chapter—360 million acres—and my shoes are not THAT comfortable. So, since I live and work in Fairbanks, I started small and focused on my community’s private schools and youth-focused organizations. I was off and running!
We like to say that Alaska is the biggest small town in the country, and like fundraising, it’s all about connections. A door into the public school system was finally opened for me by a colleague whose former high school classmate was now the career education teacher at their old high school, North Pole High School. My colleague opened two more doors and suddenly I was presenting in the three public high schools in Interior Alaska. Utilizing these connections, I conducted nine Careers in Fundraising presentations in two weeks (I should have worn my clogs). And they wanted more!
“Many students didn't know these types of occupations existed and were excited to know that there are careers related solely to people skills, communication and technology.”
- Lindsey Pender, Lathrop High School, Career Education Teacher
On the heels of the classroom presentations, I presented the AFP Alaska’s monthly luncheon program (Youth in Philanthropy) to our members. There were lots of new faces in the crowd that day, all with great ideas, connections and enthusiasm for engaging our youth in the important work we do as fundraisers. This turned out to be a great way to create new contacts for schools/youth-focused organizations, to request nominations for our YIP award and recruit new AFP members.
In this third year, we’ve expanded the YIP program into Anchorage with the addition of a co-chair who lives and works in Alaska’s largest city. We introduced the semester-long AFP curriculum, Making a World of Good: A Hands-On Learning Experience with Philanthropy, Fundraising & Making a Difference©, in Fairbanks/North Pole High Schools this past spring and hope to make inroads into the Anchorage schools next fall.
So here’s what I’ve learned:
- Create a new board position; don’t assign the job to an existing board person. For those not ready to create a new board position, establishing a YIP committee first is a great way to get started.
- Recognize what you’re already doing as part of your Youth in Philanthropy program. Do you honor youth in philanthropy at NPD?
- Use the YIP Toolbox; everything’s already there and done for you.
- Start small: a lunch presentation, an award, a career day booth.
- Use your connections.
- Recruit a co-chair and committee members.
- Get out your comfortable shoes.
Gretchen Gordon, CFRE, is the Youth In Philanthropy chair for the AFP Alaska Chapter and member of the AFP International Youth in Philanthropy Subcommittee. In her day job, she works as the assistant general manager/director of development and outreach for KUAC TV/FM, public broadcasting for Interior Alaska—wearing fabulous shoes.