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Change in Definition, Change in Focus

August 17, 2012

It’s not enough to focus only on recognizing differences. We have to welcome and include those differences if we are going to best reflect and represent fundraising, philanthropy and all of society.

That’s why, according to Wayne Steer, director of fund development for Fresh Start Recovery Centre in Calgary, Alberta, and a member of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, AFP has moved to change its definition of diversity in fundraising.

“AFP has long acknowledged the importance of diversity and recognizing the differences that we all bring to the table,” says Steer. He points to one of seven key goals in AFP’s current strategic plan that focuses on diversity: “AFP, a community of inclusion, will seek, embrace and engage diverse individuals, groups and organizations with a broad representation of experiences, perspectives, thoughts and cultures within the fundraising profession.”

“Diversity recognizes the differences in people, but inclusion is the idea of bringing everyone together and welcoming their passion, talents and the contributions they can make,” notes Steer. “We have this idea of inclusion in our strategic plan, but it wasn’t included in our definition of diversity, or even in the name of our committee that addresses the issue. We ended up changing the name of our group from the Diversity Committee to the Diversity and Inclusion Committee.”

The new changes that the board approved are as follows:

AFP Diversity and Inclusion Philosophy Statement

AFP believes that diversity and inclusion create a strong, vital and unified force for the effective pursuit of an organization’s mission and achieving philanthropic success.

AFP Definition

Diversity and Inclusion in Fundraising—seek to achieve a broad representation of experiences, perspectives and cultures to ensure that the best possible thinking, ideas, opportunities and solutions are considered; intentionally create a respectful and welcoming environment that is open to all; and appreciate the unique contributions of every member of the community.

The new definition and philosophy statement were developed after several months of work by the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and with significant input from other members. “There’s been a lot of discussion and contributions from members throughout AFP, and I really appreciate the input and passion they’ve put into this project,” says Steer. “I particularly want to recognize Sandra Renner, John Bull and Kathy Compton for their efforts, as well as Lori Gusdorf.”

Steer explains that the committee’s goal in reviewing the definition was to take a look at the fundraising community and provide a guideline for mirroring that community in AFP. “We wanted the definition to be reflective of our community, of course, but we also wanted to be welcoming to anyone, regardless of what our community might look like, so that AFP would get a full array of ideas and perspectives from those individuals who had a burning desire to contribute,” he adds.

Steer feels the new definition and philosophy statement will allow the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, as well as AFP overall, to move forward with greater clarity with regard to diversity and inclusion. “We have to make a conscious effort to foster greater diversity and inclusiveness in all possible ways, and this is an important step,” he says. “As we move toward a more diverse society and being an increasingly global association, this definition will help ensure that we welcome and hear from as many viewpoints as possible.”          

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