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AFP Grows to 30,000 Members

April 11, 2008

(April 14, 2008) AFP is pleased to announce that its membership has now surpassed 30,000 fundraisers.

AFP’s 30,000th member is Basia Solarz, development officer for The Shambhala Institute in Halifax, Nova Scotia. The institute works to cultivate the leadership needed to realize the vision of more enlightened organizations by creating powerful environments of learning, dialogue, practice, and community.

“I’ve been involved with nonprofits for many years, but just recently moved into a fundraising position and knew I would need to develop a different set of skills,” said Solarz, whose membership was processed on March 27. “Everyone I spoke to identified AFP as the organization for fundraisers and mentioned a great variety of excellent fundraising programs and resources. I’m excited about joining and taking advantage of what the association has to offer.”

With steady growth since its creation in 1960, AFP now has 197 chapters, including 11 collegiate chapters, and members in 38 countries including the United States, Canada, Mexico, China, Singapore, Indonesia, Europe and elsewhere.

“Reaching 30,000 members is a great milestone because it underscores the incredible strength and vibrancy of the profession,” said Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP. “Fundraising is growing in leaps and bounds not just in North America, but around the world. People are beginning to realize just how important philanthropy and fundraising are to the very foundation of our society. It’s such an exciting time to be part of the profession wherever you are in the world, and I thank each and every member for their participation in and support of AFP and the fundraising profession.

"Our increased membership allows us to speak with an even greater voice on behalf of fundraisers everywhere,” she continued. “Whether it’s lobbying a government for charitable giving tax incentives or educating the public about percentage-based compensation or fundraising costs, we will have a greater impact through the combined strength of our 30,000 plus members. In addition, our continued growth means that members see the value of our association and they want to be a part of it.”

One of the key reasons that members join is the association’s focus on ethical fundraising. Maehara noted that the AFP Code of Ethical Principles and Standards consistently remains the top member-rated benefit, along with documents such as A Donor Bill of Rights and the recently created International Statement of Ethical Principles, which applies to fundraisers around the world. Maehara also pointed to outstanding educational resources, from the First Course in Fundraising and Essentials of Fundraising to AFP’s Web and Audioconferences, Nonprofit Management Institute and the new two-day conference at Boston College, “Strategies for Fundraising and Financial Professionals,” in October.

Members Helping Members

Many of these educational programs have been developed by AFP chapters and members, which are two of the association’s greatest strengths, according to Tim Burcham, CFRE, vice president for advancement, Kentucky Community and Technical College System, Versailles, Ky., and chair of AFP.

“AFP has always been a member- and chapter-driven association,” said Burcham. “They are the heart of our organization, and their innovation, creativity and commitment to each other and to the profession is what makes AFP so vibrant and unique. AFP will continue to serve as a forum for new concepts, ideas and techniques that will help build the future for the fundraising profession worldwide.”

That tradition of helping out colleagues goes a long way back, according to Willits Sawyer, who joined the association, then known as the National Society of Fund Raisers (NSFRE), in 1968.

“In many ways, belonging to AFP means the same thing it did when the association included only a handful of members,” says Sawyer. “Being a member of AFP is about having people to call on for creative ideas and to share problems and successes. So you don’t feel like you’re the lone sailor out there.”

Sawyer is now retired from a long and illustrious career in fundraising, including the pioneering of the electronic funds transfer for use by nonprofits. Chairman emeritus of EFT Corporation of Chesapeake, Va., Sawyer was honored earlier this year with AFP’s prestigious Chair’s Award for Outstanding Service at the International Conference on Fundraising in San Diego.

“When I started fundraising there was absolutely no training for this field, and with just a handful of people as members of the association, it was still pretty hard to say you were a professional fundraiser,” recalls Sawyer. “AFP’s growth has provided this industry a level of professionalism that had not existed previously.”

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