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AFP's CEO, Paulette V. Maehara Speaks About Hurricane Katrina

September 2, 2005

Dear AFP Member:

All of us at AFP International Headquarters send our thoughts and prayers to the residents of cities affected by Hurricane Katrina (especially our members in the New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Alabama Gulf Coast and Mississippi chapters and others in the affected area). We hope all of our members' families and friends are safe and well.

AFP has automatically extended the memberships of all its members in areas devastated by the hurricane for six months. In addition, we will match any monetary contributions AFP employees make to the relief efforts. We acknowledge and encourage the generosity of all AFP members in this time of great need.

Even as we grieve, we must acknowledge that the fundraising community faces many challenges, both short-term and long-term, with respect to Hurricane Katrina. However, philanthropy and the charitable sector have proven to be quite resilient, and with proper preparation and training, charities can overcome these challenges.

First, the United States Postal Service (USPS) has restricted services in some of the areas hit by Hurricane Katrina. Several zip codes are currently not receiving Standard or Periodicals Mail. For updates on which areas do not have postal service, members can check a special page on the USPS website. Many thanks to the Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers for alerting AFP to this page.

Second, a few scam artists will undoubtedly try to take advantage of the strong emotional pull Hurricane Katrina and the relief efforts will have on donors. AFP has issued a press release providing donors with tips and guidelines on giving, and I encourage you to use and share this information with your own donors and volunteers.

Third, we must realize that millions of people will want to support the relief efforts. It is likely that non-relief charities will experience a decrease in contributions in the short-term. Katrina may also have a longer-term impact upon the American economy. What this may do to consumer optimism and willingness to give as we approach the busy giving season is unclear.

However, if Sept. 11, 2001, and the 2004 Southeast Asia tsunami are any indicators, donors will continue to give to all different types of charities, and some organizations will see strong results over the next few months. Guidance and advice that AFP received from AFP members and the American Association of Fund Raising Counsel (AAFRC) regarding fundraising post-Sept. 11 will again be relevant during this time. In addition, the AAFRC provided a useful chart showing the resiliency of charitable giving during crises and natural disasters. AFP also has set up a special blog to track breaking news and information about Hurricane Katrina fundraising efforts and donations.

The bottom line: organizations can succeed in their fundraising during even the most difficult of times. In fact, it is during moments like these where the professionalism of fundraisers and their training and experience shine through for their organizations.

Be calm. Look at the larger perspective. Stay the course, but be sensitive to the needs and desires of donors. We still have a job to do. Our clients, our organizations and our faithful donors expect nothing less from us.

Sincerely,

Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE
President & CEO
Association of Fundraising Professionals

P.S. If you have any comments, perspective, stories or advice you'd like to share, please email me at pmaehara@afpnet.org.

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