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A Roadmap for the Future: The 2016 Emerging Fundraising Academy

July 5, 2016

New professionals and students interested in fundraising gathered together in Orlando, Fla., in June to create a model for how young people can learn and engage with the fundraising profession and ensure they receive the training and networking they need to remain committed.

The Emerging Fundraising Academy featured a variety of speakers designed to provide insights into the journey and culture of fundraising, data and trends on giving and inspiration for young professionals still seeking to find their place in the sector.

The Academy was supported by a generous grant from the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation, with additional support provided by the AFP Central Florida Chapter and the AFP Florida Caucus.

“When we started our Collegiate Chapter program and Young Professional membership category, I’m not sure we truly understood the impact it would have on the profession and our community,” said Taryn Gold, director of chapter administration for AFP. “Engaging young people in their teens and early twenties was something we had to do to keep our profession relevant and vibrant. But it’s been so exciting to see the inspiration and passion they have brought to AFP and the profession. They’ve provided a jolt to all of us, and they keep surprising us with new ideas and perspectives.”

Gold also thanked the Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation for its support, saying that the foundation “truly gets” the importance of reaching out to young people and how it creates the underpinning for a career devoted to philanthropy and service. “They’ve been great partners—as has been the Central Florida Chapter and the entire AFP Florida Caucus,” said Gold. “I want to thank them all for their support.”

Solidifying Commitment to Fundraising

Crystallizing and clarifying their dedication to the profession was a common theme heard from participants.

“This experience solidified my thinking that this is what I want to be doing; I want to be involved in making a difference in people’s lives through working within the nonprofit sector,” said Caitlyn Diroff. “Most likely I will continue to work in fund development, but now I am sure that this is what I want to be involved in and make a career of.”

Rob Caldwell echoed this sentiment. “Being a part of the conference helped me realize how promising the nonprofit sector will be in the future. Being able to purposefully pursue a career in the industry is a dream of mine, and there is no better time to do it!”

Participants were also very pleased to be able to share information about programming, training and collaborations that can help inspire young professionals and others interested in fundraising to become and remain engaged. “I was able to learn about the various programs and initiatives of other AFP collegiate leaders, which helped formulate my approach for The Ohio State Chapter in the upcoming year,” said Caldwell.

The impact of programs like the Academy and AFP’s collegiate chapters isn’t always easy to measure in pure numbers, but stories—like this one from member Jeff Howard—are increasingly commonplace.

“If I hadn’t join AFP as a collegiate member for Flagler College, I know I wouldn't be where I am today as a director of fundraising events and volunteer engagement,” said Howard. “Being able to go to AFP conferences and learn from seasoned professionals was crucial to me getting my first job out of college.  I have worked in development now for five years and I know that this is the field I will work in for the rest of my life.  I owe my entire career to joining AFP as a college student.  For those that are currently there and going through the same thing I was, take it seriously and learn everything you can.  It may just become your life!”

What’s Next

Resources and information about the Academy—including handouts from sessions, as well as links to Facebook and LinkedIn groups to continue the connections and conversations started in Orlando—are available here.

In addition, EFA participant Samir Goel blogged about his experience at the Academy and what he learned about storytelling and fundraising. You can read his full post here.

Ideas, thoughts and perspectives gleaned from participants during the Academy are being compiled by AFP staff and will help guide the association in its outreach efforts in the future.



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