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Creating a Balanced Educational Program

Balancing your educational program: Flexibility and focus

The challenge to the Chapter Education Chair is to balance and juggle. You will be required to consider time of day and geographic location; learner skill level and previous experience; depth as well as breadth of instruction; philosophies and concepts versus specific skills and strategies; expert presenter or skilled peer facilitator; seminar or roundtable; short program versus half day workshop ¡V just to name a few.

There is no universal "correct" program plan. You can only succeed if you assess and periodically reassess learning needs, ensure a balance of formats, teaching styles, presenter backgrounds and program goals. In any given program, you will not please all prospective learners; but by focusing on the long term goal of balance for all programming aspects, you will provide something for everyone over time.

In addition to your structured planning, be flexible. Be open to opportunities that "drop in your lap." If a national or international trainer/author/speaker happens to be in your area for an agency or client, he/she may be available at a very reasonable rate. Do not be a slave to your preplanned schedule; be open to including him/her on your program. If changing political, economic or community factors means you need to address a "crisis" or unexpected topic, postpone the planned program and develop a forum to address the local issue.

Combined, your foresight and flexibility will allow you and your chapter to support the development of philanthropic fundraising professionals through high quality, learner-centered education. The Model Program Matrix will give you a comprehensive view of a program specifically designed to deliver maximum program to the most carefully defined member segments. By using the Program Matrix Template you can record your own programs and analyze where you may want to add or modify plans.

  • Download/print the Model Program Matrix and Program Matrix Template under Attachments, below

Utilizing needs assessment results

First, evaluate all data to identify the major segments of your constituency. Do you have a lot of beginners, or perhaps an under-utilized corps of advanced members? Do your members represent grassroots organizations, or are many of them consultants? Then, look at which topics are most frequently requested, but also look at who is requesting them to determine what level or aspect of those topics are needed.

Finally, look for common concerns among open-ended responses: What are your members' plans and hopes for their careers, the community and the future of philanthropy? List all the segments, topics, and themes you want to address and, using the Model Program Matrix, organize them into a comprehensive plan.

Chapter Ten-Star Award

The Chapter Ten Star Award recognizes those chapters that have accomplished many of the key objectives outlined in AFP's Strategic Plan. The award encourages chapters to perform specific activities designed to increase professionalism within fund raising, and public awareness of the importance of philanthropy. Every chapter that meets 10 of the 15 outlined criteria is eligible for the award, which honors chapters that have demonstrated a deep commitment to the goals and ideals of AFP.

Many of these activities can be incorporated in creative ways into the overall educational programming plan:

  • Ethics workshops: The AFP Ethics Committee has developed an outline and materials for presenting half- or full-day workshops on understanding and applying the principles embodied in the AFP Code of Ethical Principles and Standards of Practice. All chapters are encouraged to offer at least one such opportunity to their members each year. The committee's materials may be obtained from the President's office (800) 666-3863, ext. 444).
  • Diversity activities: The AFP Diversity Committee has developed a set of programming suggestions and sample tools for chapter diversity programs. The package is available from AFP Chapter Services at (800) 666-3863, ext. 473 and is also downloadable from the website. Also see: San Francisco's award-winning diversity program.
  • First and Survey (CFRE Review) Courses: Chapters are also encouraged to periodically offer these workshops in fundraising basics, as part of their overall educational program. The First Course in Fundraising, aimed at new (0-3 years) fundraisers, is a great way to attract new members to your chapter. The Survey Course: AFP's Review Course for the CFRE Exam is targeted to practitioners with 3-5 years of experience, and was recently updated to address the practice domains covered by the CFRE baseline (5 years) certification examination. Taken together, these 2-day seminars can serve as the beginning and ending terminals of a comprehensive, long-range education plan spanning 2-3 years, with the goal of helping members prepare for and achieve the CFRE.

Educational standards

AFP's Educational Standards Checklist provides a handy summary of the steps to be taken for approval through the Continuing Education Approval Program. If your chapter plans to apply for approval of its major educational programs, use the list in developing your work plan and timeline, to ensure all the standards are addressed. 

Not all programs (brief chapter meetings, for instance) warrant the level of planning required by the approval process. Even so, the checklist is useful for any type of session as a means of ensuring that quality is built into planning. Just because an activity is small does not mean that quality doesn't count!

The Fundraising Core Curriculum

AFP is currently in the process of developing a curriculum framework for education of professional fundraisers, based on the AFP Practice Analysis completed in 2002. The targeted completion date for the curriculum framework is in early 2004.

Read more about the Core Curriculum project.



Program Matrix Template (Word) — DOC Format, 52224KB

Model Program Matrix — PDF Format, 116164KB

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