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Board Approved Governance Changes – Proposals Head to Delegate Assembly

Imagine an organization that has grown by more than 120 percent since the last time it reviewed its governance structure, and whose fiduciary responsibilities are spread out among more than 400 people. Picture the difficulty the typical member might have in accessing leadership or truly feeling ownership of the organization.

AFP currently finds itself in that very situation, which is why the association created a Governance Task Force to review its internal infrastructure and leadership capacity. The task force, led by Steve Batson, Ed.D., CFRE, a past chair of AFP, has made several recommendations that will ensure a more transparent governance system allowing for greater member participation and ownership.

The task force has proposed changes to the board of directors and the Committee on Directorship and recommended the creation of a Leadership Academy. The proposals were approved by the AFP board in July and now head to the Delegate Assembly for final review.

Regional Board Representation

Under the task force’s proposals, the composition of AFP’s board of directors would change dramatically. In addition, the full membership would directly approve the slate of nominees to the board.

Under the new governance system, 12 board members will be selected through AFP’s new district plan. Eighteen more will be at-large members, two will be chair appointees and three will serve ex-officio by virtue of office (e.g., the chair of the Ethics Committee).

One director will be elected from each of the twelve new districts, which were created solely to be used in the selection of association board members. These new districts are based generally on the number of chapters in a particular area and are as even in members as possible. They will not affect the traditional role of chapters as local facilitators of the AFP membership experience.

The 18 at-large board members are not district-based, but as new districts are formed, the number of at-large seats on the association board will be correspondingly reduced. From the pool of 18, the board will select the nine individuals to serve as officers.

How the Process Will Work

Nominations for any board position (except for chair appointees and ex-officio members) can be submitted by:

  • self-nomination
  • any member of the association
  • chapters, and
  • the committee on directorship.

Note that members can nominate someone in a different district, regardless of where they reside.

The Committee on Directorship will continue to receive and vet all board nominations, although its composition will also change. Every district will now have one member and one alternate on the committee.

The committee’s members will be chosen by a new Chapter Presidents’ Council, which will consist of the presidents of every AFP chapter, including collegiate chapters. In addition to selecting the Committee on Directorship, the council will serve as a body through which AFP leaders will receive and exchange information and discuss the latest issues affecting the association and chapters. The Chapter Presidents’ Council will also annually choose one of its members to serve as an at-large director for one year on the association board.

The Committee on Directorship will review nominations and create a slate of proposed board members for the year, including one candidate for each district. That slate will be distributed to all AFP members for an up-or-down vote, in a manner similar to the current system under which only the delegate assembly votes for new directors.  

The Leadership Assembly

Another key change would be creation of the new Leadership Academy.

The Governance Task Force has heard from many members that the delegate assembly is too large to be effective, but, at the same time, it offers a great networking and leadership training experience for AFP members.

With that in mind, the board has endorsed restructuring the Delegate Assembly into a new “Leadership Academy” dedicated to nurturing emerging leaders while addressing the needs of experienced practitioners.

The programming at the Leadership Academy would be substantially improved to create an intensive leadership and career development experience through formal sessions on such issues as:

  • membership acquisition and retention
  • program development and implementation
  • marketing and branding
  • public relations and community involvement
  • recruitment strategies to ensure continuing progress toward enhanced diversity and inclusiveness

All chapters would be expected to commit to sending chapter leaders to the Leadership Academy—the chapter president at a minimum. The board also would establish a pool  that members, chapters and other interested parties, including foundations, could support to provide stipends for academy participants on an as need basis.

Although the formal “metro” groupings would be discontinued, like-sized chapters, as well as new “affinity groups,” would continue to meet during the Leadership Academy and at the International Conference to discuss issues and challenges.

The net result of these changes to the annual leadership gathering would be a meeting similar to the current delegate assembly—without diffused governance responsibility and accountability and with much improved education and training programming.

The Net Effect: Flexibility, Diversity and Better Member Service

The overall recommendations from the Governance Task Force would create an organization that is more flexible—better able to react to change and be more responsive to member needs.

The newly restructured board would better represent all AFP members and provide all members with an opportunity to directly participate. With these changes, the board is confident that many more AFP members would be better informed about the work of the association and feel empowered to engage directly with a clearly defined AFP leadership.

The AFP board of directors has endorsed these recommendations with the hope that they will provide for the continued uninterrupted and effective functioning of the leading association of fundraising professionals in the world. In addition, once implemented, these proposals would ensure AFP’s ability to achieve its organizational mission and strategic goals.

Recommendations and Other Resources

Below members can find several resources to help them understand the changes recommended by the Governance Task Force. Members are strongly encouraged to read the memorandum detailing the proposals. The Q&A document and comparison charts are also helpful.

  1. the memorandum reporting the recommendations endorsed by the board
  2. the questions and answers document
  3. the comparison chart

If you have any questions, please contact the task force at

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