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My Experience with the International Advanced Diploma on Fundraising—I Chose to be a Guinea Pig, But Why!?

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Simone Joyaux is already an ACFRE (since 1994, I might add), and described as “one of the nonprofit sector’s most thoughtful, inspirational, and provocative leaders.” Why, then, did she feel the need to take it one step further and go for the International Advanced Diploma in Fundraising? This is her ‘why’, ‘how’, and ‘what’ she’s learned so far. Her advice for you? Don’t wait until you are an ‘advanced fundraisers’, do it NOW! She wishes she had.

Simone Joyaux May 2014I don’t think I’ve ever participated in a beta test before.

Actually, I think I’ve always avoided any opportunity to be the proverbial guinea pig. So why did I say “yes” this time? I actually volunteered! Self-initiated guinea pig-dom.

But why?!

The answer starts back in 1984, when I first joined AFP.

I joined a professional association of fundraisers, attended chapter workshops, volunteered for my local chapter and acquired my CFRE certification. All that because that’s what professionals do. I also got involved at the international level of AFP: Board, committees, task forces and presenting.

Thirty years later—in January 2014—I began my 27th year as a fulltime consultant. I’ve written three books and will soon start another. I present all over the world and teach at a university.

All that because I joined AFP in 1984. All this because I believe in a profession and professionalism.

But we’re not yet as professional as we need to be. Read on.

Body of knowledge

Together our field has been creating and documenting the body of knowledge. But there’s more to do. We need more research. And we need to prove—academically—that this is a true profession with a true body of knowledge.

Just being practitioners won’t cut it—as great as many of us practitioners are. The partnership of practice and academia is essential.

The International Advanced Diploma (IADF)

Pretty impressive title, eh? It inspires me.

And how about this, the aim of the IADF: To help participants lead organizational growth. To double, triple, quadruple fundraising income in less than 10 years.

Who wouldn’t want to enroll?

I worked on AFP task forces preparing this exciting new program. Finally: academics. Finally: linking fundraising to formal academic research in various arenas like psychology, marketing, systems thinking and more.

I already read an enormous amount outside of fundraising. Then I interpret and apply the readings to my work. Lots of what I read comes from academia. My intuition tells me that the stuff is useful for my work and the sector.

But through the IADF, I’m learning why something applies and how to apply it better. The IADF justifies my intuition and enhances my current application.

The IADF introduces me to new concepts—and at greater depths than my own independent work. Even though I’ve been working in the field since 1975, I’m learning new stuff—which improves my service.

Here’s my vision for fundraising

The highest levels of respect for the field…Colleges and universities around the world conducting research…Easy to secure funding for academic research in fundraising…Doctoral candidates growing by leaps and bounds. Many of the authors I read in Harvard Business Review expanding their research and writing to include the fundraising field.

We’re not there yet. We’re not really close yet.

In my vision, fundraisers know the right stuff to raise more money, thus helping organizations fulfill mission and produce greater impact. And I’ll say it again: despite the great fundraisers we have, fundraisers can (and must) do better. Academics and practice go together.

If I could go back in time

It’s 1975. I couldn’t find a job teaching French and English, my career goal. I was dumb enough and smart enough to apply for the job of executive director at a small arts organization. They hired me (dumb and smart of them, too.)

I had to learn fast. Conferences, workshops, books. Almost a decade later—and 1200 miles away—I discovered AFP. More learning.

I fell in love. I fell in love with the nonprofit sector. This is my life’s work.

And if I could recreate my fundraising-learning path, I’d enroll in the IADF in mid-career. I knew then that I aspired to the advanced level. I knew then that I wanted to be really good, one of the best.

I know lots of you who are the right candidates for this program. Get in the pipeline now!

Don’t wait till my point in your career. You deserve this earlier. You’re the inspiration for this program.

And the truth is

The IADF is lots of work.

This is almost like going to graduate school while working fulltime. Not quite as much work—but lots of work.

The IADF is a diploma program: pass with distinction. Pass. Fail.

Don’t give up during the program. Keep going. We guinea pigs—the first cohort—are learning. We’re testing ourselves and our experience will make it better for you.

Fundraisers deserve the IADF—that way we can be stronger professionals generating more charitable gifts for the nonprofit sector.

Fundraising—the profession—requires the IADF. That way we grow philanthropy and build a stronger nonprofit sector.

The time is now. I chose to be a guinea pig. It’s your time to choose to participate in the next cohort.

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