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AFP eWire Printable Version: March 31, 2009

AFP Honors Top National Donors and Volunteers for 2009

Maryland businessman John Erickson, AT&T, the Greater New Orleans Foundation and youth philanthropists from Connecticut and Tennessee are just some of the recipients of the Association of Fundraising Professionals’ (AFP) annual international Awards for Philanthropy.

The awards honor individuals and organizations that through their tireless work and dedication to philanthropy have dramatically improved the quality of life for people in their communities and around the world. The honors will be presented at the AFP Awards for Philanthropy Banquet, sponsored by Bentz Whaley Flessner, at the New Orleans Marriott, March 31, 2009, 6:30 – 9 p.m., in New Orleans, during the 46th AFP International Conference on Fundraising.

Recipients are nominated for demonstrating extraordinary generosity, innovation and leadership in all aspects of philanthropy. This year’s honorees include:

  • Paschal Murray Award for Outstanding Philanthropist: John Erickson, Baltimore, Md.
  • Ketchum Award for Outstanding Volunteer Fundraiser: William Greehey, San Antonio, Texas
  • Community Counselling Service Award for Outstanding Fundraising Professional: Kenneth C. Frisch, ACFRE, Perrysburg, Ohio
  • Freeman Philanthropic Services Award for Outstanding Corporation: AT&T, Dallas, Texas
  • Changing our World/Simms Awards for Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy:(5-17): Caitlin’s Closet (Caitlin DeMars, Caitlin Wright and Margaret Allison), Bridgeport, Conn. AND (18-23): Jordan Thomas, Chattanooga, Tenn.
  • Award for Outstanding Foundation: The Greater New Orleans Foundation, New Orleans, La.
  • Chair’s Award for Outstanding Service: Jimmie R. Alford, LL.D., LH.D., CFRE, Chicago, Ill.

“Philanthropy is a partnership between charities and fundraisers on one hand, and individuals and organizations who want to get involved and make a difference,” said Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP. “Philanthropy, and the incredible changes it brings to the world, cannot happen without donors, volunteers, foundations, corporations, fundraisers and others. It is only fitting that we honor them, not only for their tremendous giving and volunteering, but for the example they set others.”

Nominations for the awards are received from AFP’s 200 chapters around the world, as well as from the general public. In some cases, honorees have received awards from local AFP chapters. This year, AFP received more than 170 nominations for its awards program.

AFP’s Awards for Philanthropy have honored outstanding individuals and organizations in the philanthropic world since 1980. Just a few of the past recipients include H. Ross Perot, Dorothy and J.B. Fuqua, James Michener, Jeff Skoll, Hallmark Cards, Inc., Bank of America, Johnson & Johnson, the Kresge Foundation and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.

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Charitable Fundraising Hit New Low in 2008

Less than half of charities raised more money in 2008 than in 2007, and fundraising gains dropped significantly across the board, according to figures released by AFP at the 46th International Conference on Fundraising in New Orleans, La.

AFP’s eighth annual State of Fundraising Survey asked charities to compare their fundraising totals in 2008 to their figures in 2007. Overall, just 46 percent of organizations raised more funds in 2008, a new low in the eight-year history of the survey. In a typical year, about 60 percent of respondents raise more money compared to the previous year. The previous low was reported in 2002 when just 49 percent of organizations raised more money that year than compared to 2001.

In addition, the percentage of organizations raising less money in 2008 compared to 2007 (40 percent) was an all-time high. Another 14 percent raised about the same amount of money in both years.

The amount of money raised also dropped substantially. Of the organizations that did raise more money, nearly two-thirds saw increases of 20 percent or lower. In addition, just five percent of respondents reported fundraising increases of 50 percent or more. In comparison, just two years ago, almost one quarter (23 percent) indicated increases of 50 percent or more.

“Based on the survey results and anecdotal evidence from our members across the country, this is probably the most challenging environment that most fundraisers have seen in their lifetimes,” said Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP. “The dip in fundraising is particularly discouraging given the increased demand for services as many people suffer from the economy.”

Fundraising decreases were seen across the board, regardless of cause, size or geography. In addition, each fundraising technique measured in the survey (direct mail, telemarketing, major gifts, planned giving, online fundraising, special events and corporate/foundation grants) saw significant decreases compared to 2007. The percentage of organizations raising more money using major gifts, traditionally one of the strongest and most resilient methods of fundraising, fell from 63 percent in 2008 to 43 percent in 2007. Similarly, direct mail success (another popular and typically successful technique) fell from 51 percent in 2007 to just 38 percent in 2008.

The only type of fundraising where a majority of respondents reported raising more funds in 2008 compared to 2007 was online solicitations. However, online fundraising typically accounts for a very small percentage of overall charitable revenue, so even this result had a very minor impact on total fundraising.

When asked to identify the top four fundraising challenge in 2008, participants overwhelmingly chose the economy. Almost eighty percent rated the economy as one of the top four challenges they faced in 2008, and 57 percent rated it as the top challenge. The second most challenging issue overall was attracting new donors, selected by 48 percent of respondents as one of the top four issues, and was selected by 5 percent as the top challenge.

Looking ahead to the rest of 2009, just 28 percent of fundraisers believe their organizations will raise more money this year than in 2008. That level of optimism is the lowest by far in the history of the survey. About one-third estimate they will raise less in 2009.

In terms of strategy for 2009, a large percentage of organizations will be increasing their activities in major gifts, planned gifts, online solicitations and corporate and foundation grants. These activities are typically less expensive and/or focus on existing donors who already have strong connections to a charity. In contrast, very few organizations said they would be increasing their direct mail, telefundraising and special event efforts, which are typically more expensive and typically are used to attract new donors.

“Charities have been through difficult times before, most recently after the events of Sept. 11, 2001, and many weathered that storm,” said Maehara. “We must learn from those lessons and ensure that we don’t panic, but focus on the long-term and emphasize donor cultivation and stewardship. Make no mistake, this is a very challenging economy, but charities should remember that they still retain control over their circumstances. With the right planning, strategy and implementation, charities can overcome these challenges, and AFP is committed to providing resources to the sector to help organizations find success.”

A full report about the results will be available later this year.

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AFP Offers Fundraising Tips, Guidance in Difficult Economic Times

AFP has developed a new guidance document that contains tips and advice for charities trying to raise funds in the current economic environment.

Fundraising in a Difficult Economy, developed by AFP senior leaders and members of its Communications and Marketing Committee, contains 11 key points and perspectives, along with numerous strategies and tactics, which charities can use to connect with donors and raise critically needed funds. The short document is available free of charge on the AFP website.

“We’re committed to ensuring that all members achieve fundraising success, even in this difficult environment,” said Paulette V. Maehara, CFRE, CAE, president and CEO of AFP. “While we can’t provide unique and individualized guidance for each member, we can provide resources that members can use to increase their chances of success.”

Maehara noted that the guidance wasn’t meant to be exhaustive and that some organizations may find the guidance more useful than others. “We see this document as the beginning of a conversation about how to respond in the current climate and best practices that organizations can share.”

AFP is asking for feedback, ideas and success stories that it will share via its website and possibly another guidance document in the future.

The document can be found in the Attachments section below.

Additional Resources

The association has also created an online fundraising toolkit—a collection of the best fundraising stories and columns on the Internet—that organizations can access to get additional ideas and inspiration. The link for the toolkit and other resources can be found on the front page of the AFP website (

Another way AFP is trying to help members succeed is by offering its Ready Reference Series free of charge to members. The booklets are practical, how-to guides containing tips and advice on a variety of subjects including board development, major gifts, capital campaigns, special events and reviving a donor file. All nine booklets (including six in Spanish and one in French) can be downloaded and printed for free by logging into the Member Gateway on the AFP website and clicking on “Member Resources.”

“The value of a professional association lies in its ability to help members grow and learn and support them when times are tough,” said Maehara. “This is certainly one of those times, and we are committed to doing everything we can to help members raise the funds their organizations need.”

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Photo Gallery ~ AFP 46th International Conference on Fundraising

The Photo Gallery has images from each day of the 46th International Conference on Fundraising. Click on “About AFP” and then “AFP News and Press Releases” to see photos and all the happenings from the conference.

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Second Annual Boston College/AFP Event: "Wealth and Giving in the Current Economic Crisis"

The Center on Wealth and Philanthropy at Boston College and the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) are pleased to offer a conference at Boston College on June 9 and 10, 2009, specially designed for wealth advisers, estate planners, fundraising professionals, directors of planned giving, vice presidents of development, and CEOs and board members of nonprofit organizations.

This conference will help you understand and to successfully deal with the economic climate of 2009 and beyond. Backed with the most recent research and strategic thinking, participants will learn how to approach critical funding for their organizations in the current economic climate.

Presenters will paint a picture of the current economic landscape nationally, and internationally. Hear economists and investment managers from Barclays Wealth in London and explore what has happened, what is happening now, and what may happen with wealth and giving. In addition, hear from foremost scholars and experts from Boston College about the implications of the current economy on fundraising and philanthropy. Find out how to best present options to major gift donors given the new and changing financial landscape and the resulting psychology. Don’t miss this powerful seminar on a pressing topic—the economy!

Registration Rates:

Early Bird Rates (Effective until April 24, 2009)

  • Early Bird Special Rate: $995 for full registration
  • Early Bird Registration Plus AFP Membership: $895
  • Early Bird Rate for AFP Member or Boston College Affiliate: $595

Regular Rates (Effective April 25 and after)

  • Full Registration: $1195
  • Regular Registration Plus AFP Membership: $1095
  • Regular Rate for AFP Member or Boston College Affiliate: $795

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Two AFP Webconferences You Won’t Want to Miss!

*Go online to to register. Go to Education and Career Development and click on AFP Web/Audioconferences.

Fun, Entertaining and the IRS!

Fun and IRS updates don’t usually go hand in hand but Paula Goedert does an amazing job of demystifying IRS regulations while keeping you entertained. Register now for Avoiding the Legal Pitfalls: What Fundraisers Need to Know on April 7 at 1 p.m. EDT.

Major Gift Bloopers!

Save your organization from the most common mistakes in major gifts by learning how to avoid them in a fast paced session with author and veteran fundraiser Julia Walker. Twelve “Deadly” Mistakes of Major Gift Campaigns and How to Avoid Them! April 23 at 1 p.m. EDT.

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