A better title for this post would be “The Benefits of Membership in the WNY Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals.” But that’s not very compelling, is it?
Yesterday the local chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) had its now annual new member orientation. There were nine or ten new members in attendance representing non-profits large and small in education, healthcare, human services, and more — each eager to learn more about the professional group. But what was more telling to me, though, is that they were outnumbered by the AFP board members and committee volunteers who also attended. That fact reminded me about one of the best parts of AFP – that your colleagues in the field, who can be your competitors for the donor dollar, can also be your biggest fans and supporters.
They are like-minded souls who fight the same battles as you, come home beat-up by a hard day or rejuvenated from a great day like you, face the same kinds of clueless staff and board members as you but are also bolstered by the same kinds of committed teammates and engaged board members as you are. They stand tall under the daily pressures of working in the non-profit industry and do their best day in and day out to bring funds and resources to their missions, just like you.
And they support their own. They lend an ear if you want to vent, a hand if you need some help, directions if you’re lost, or a pat on the back if you feel unappreciated. They are also there to celebrate with you when you get that big win. They are peers, coaches, and mentors but, just as important, they are also learning along the way. Just like you. In the more than 25 years I’ve been a member I’ve always had someone to talk to if I needed help.
I wasn’t asked to write this piece, I just felt moved after being a part of the experience. (I might have also had too much coffee.) Yet after all this time I still remember my first AFP meetings and the handshakes and welcomes I received from my fundraising colleagues each time I walked through the door. I felt that they had my back. They did then and they still do now.
Sure, being a member of AFP gets you access to great resources, local professional development opportunities, national conferences, and more best practices than you can shake a stick at. But it’s the intangible that brings you the best value. It’s the people.
If you’re a member of the AFP already, congratulations! Use it and you will thrive. If you’re not a member and fundraising is part of your responsibilities, think seriously about joining and getting involved. The investment is more than worth it for the return you will realize. You can find the Western New York Chapter at http://afpwny.afpnet.org/