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Raising the Next Bunch of Diverse Fundraisers

December 3, 2013

As AFP has a strong belief in diversity and inclusion, it is only fitting that we honor our chapters that show the same strong, vital and unified force for diversity and inclusion in philanthropy.

Introducing your 2012-2013 AFP Charles R. Stephens Excellence in Diversity Chapter Award winners:

  • For the 51-100 chapter grouping size – the AFP FL, Miami chapter
  • For the 101-250 chapter grouping size – the AFP PA, Eastern chapter
  • For the 251-400 chapter grouping size – the AFP OH, Greater Cincinnati chapter
  • Special award honors go to the AFP ON, Ottawa and AFP Toronto chapters

AFP defines “diversity and inclusion in fundraising” as the seeking and achieving of a broad representation of experiences, perspectives, opinions and cultures to ensure that the best possible thinking, ideas, opportunities and solutions are considered.  Each of these chapter honorees took it upon themselves to embody AFP’s vision of diversity and inclusion—helping to raise a future of diverse fundraisers.

The AFP Greater Cincinnati chapter took that quite literally when they created a program called “New Faces of Fundraising.” Through this program, launched in the fall of 2011, the chapter recruited diverse college students with an interest in fundraising and “raised” them to be the next generation of fundraisers.

Meghan Cummings, CFRE, president-elect and chair of the chapter’s diversity committee, knew first-hand how hard it was to hone your fundraising skills, gain experience in the field, and land your first development gig. Cummings was also acutely aware that their chapter was struggling to recruit diverse members—at the time, only three percent of their chapter’s members identified as African-American, with less than one percent identifying as Hispanic.

Why not kill two birds with one stone—recruit the next generation of diverse fundraisers AND mentor them towards their passion of becoming a fundraiser? The diversity committee partnered with diverse members of Cincinnati’s charitable community, both fundraisers and others, to create a program that would foster a new diverse world of fundraising, while also providing an opportunity to diverse students to break into the field of fundraising. Thus was born “The New Faces of Fundraising.”

A Beginner Fundraiser’s Dream

The diversity committee set out to find juniors, seniors or graduate students with at least a 2.8 GPA who were racially or ethnically diverse and already involved in making the community a better place. After an application process and thorough interviews conducted by the diversity committee, the applicants were narrowed to three African-American females, one male of Pakistani descent who grew up abroad, and an Orthodox Jewish female from Israel.

With a generous grant from The Greater Cincinnati Foundation, the chapter and committee were able to bring their program to fruition. As part of “New Faces of Fundraising” each of the five students received: 

  • Free tuition to AFP’s Fundamentals of Fundraising Course
  • Seven additional complementary educational sessions which cover other important areas of fundraising, ethics, career and professional development
  • A one-year “young professional” membership to AFP
  • A mentor from the nonprofit field to provide advice, coaching and networking opportunities
  • A paid 120-hour summer internship opportunity in the development department at a local nonprofit

In a nutshell: a beginner fundraiser’s dream.

“Fifty organizations applied to work with the students!” exclaimed Cummings of the internship opportunity. “The students were given the chance to get great experience and apply their skills right away. It was amazing to watch the class bloom—they came in as students and left as colleagues.”

Two of the graduates from the program went on to graduate with their Master’s degree and landed their first fundraising job. One of the two even went on to create a collegiate chapter in Cincinnati!

Starting an Epidemic of Diverse Fundraisers

The AFP Greater Cincinnati chapter hopes the “New Faces of Fundraising” program can become a national model for diversity recruitment in all AFP chapters. “We know fundraising is a great and rewarding career, and the more we can let new students know about that and start them off with all the tools and networks they need, the better the path we’re putting them on for success,” says Cummings.

The diversity committee spent hundreds of hours developing the materials and organizing this program—recruitment packets, applications, course descriptions, timelines, internship applications and evaluations—all of which can be easily replicated for other chapters.

“The more viewpoints you have at any table, the stronger you are,” says Cummings. “We know our field will be stronger when we can mirror the people we’re serving. We’re doing it—five students at a time!”

“The fact that AFP recognizes programs like this and recognizes initiatives that are helping to move our profession forward in this way is wonderful,” says Cummings. The chapter is continuing their “New Faces of Fundraising” program and has just secured a second round of funding from The Greater Cincinnati Foundation. Join them—raise your own team of diverse fundraisers.

This is just a taste of the amazing work that the chapter honorees are doing to further diversity and inclusion in the fundraising profession. Stay tuned for more inspiring stories of diversity—and tips on how you too can advance an all-inclusive fundraising world. 

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