AFP Minnesota Statement in Response to AFP Greater Toronto Chapter

To Minnesota fundraisers & resource-movers:

As incidents of racism and discrimination have come to light throughout the AFP-Greater Toronto Chapter (AFP-GTC), the AFP-MN Board of Directors stands in solidarity with not only the BIPOC individuals affected by the inexcusable acts of AFP-GTC leadership, but BIPOC fundraisers and changemakers everywhere. We call on AFP Global to take the actions called for by the BIPOC fundraisers who were harmed.

As a Ten-Star Chapter of AFP, we take our commitment seriously to promote inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA), promote relevant and high-quality fundraising education, increase capacity and strengthen community, and champion ethical fundraising practices. However, none of these activities can be successful in the face of systemic racism, especially when it’s perpetuated by our colleagues.

We recognize that to promote and live out the values of IDEA we must unlearn racism, repair harm, and rebuild relationships and systems. This commitment is challenging and long-term. However, we accept that challenge and invite each fundraiser in Minnesota to come along with us and embrace a future of fundraising that is representative of the identities and experiences of those who have historically been left out of the philanthropic conversation.

Inherently, the road to achieving equity and anti-racism is one that will have bumps along the way and we recognize that, as an organization, we will make mistakes. However, we will own our missteps, be open to new perspectives and healthy conflict that inspires dialogue, and most importantly, listen to and believe in BIPOC fundraisers. Moving forward, we view owning mistakes as an act of bravery – bravery to try something new and learn from the experience.

However, the pain caused by leaders in Toronto is not a mistake. It is representative of a culture where racism, discrimination, and complacency is permitted. While we have seen a number of statements of solidarity issued by others such as Veritus Group and AFP-Global, we have yet to see public accountability taken by the individuals who have caused so much harm to our BIPOC colleagues. We implore them to take ownership and urge them to invest in their personal IDEA journeys so that they can do better in the future.

While AFP-MN is disappointed by the inaction of AFP-GTC to support Black fundraisers, we want to focus on what our chapter values, how we will stay accountable, and how we will move forward. Here are our current commitments to our fellow fundraisers:

  1. The AFP-MN Board of Directors (or a working group thereof) will create an escalation and safety policy that clearly states how members of AFP-MN and those associated with its events, programs, or materials can report acts of racism and other harm without fear of retaliation. This policy will be made public and accessible upon approval.
  2. The AFP-MN Board of Directors will continue to invest in consistent IDEA education and workshops and incorporate IDEA values into all programs. We will provide ongoing budgetary support for the IDEA Fellowship and other events that uplift BIPOC fundraisers.
  3. AFP-MN will make its programming as accessible as possible by continuing to offer “pay-what-you-can” pricing options for events and through our recent reduction of the Minnesota chapter portion of AFP-MN professional membership dues from $85 to $0. These financial options are not solely for BIPOC individuals, but we recognize the systemic and historic economic barriers BIPOC communities continue to face, and seek to make AFP-MN’s programming available to all – regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, disability status, socioeconomic status, and beyond.
  4. Continue to review and invest in governance structures that support and promote diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility throughout AFP-MN.

Our journey is long, but we believe that investing in and prioritizing IDEA work is the best path forward to create a healthy and vibrant community of fundraisers. For the sake of current and future generations of money movers, we are obligated to move this work forward and create safe and brave spaces where BIPOC fundraisers can not only succeed, but thrive.

While AFP-MN commits to the previously stated actions, we also want to provide ways you can take action and/or learn more right now:

  1. If you feel passionately about helping AFP-MN move forward and sustaining IDEA activities, please consider joining one of our seven committees.
  2. Stand in solidarity with the BIPOC members of AFP-GTC by learning more about their experiences and supporting them in their healing journey.
    1. Read the petition to remove AFP-GTC’s Ten Star Gold status
    2. Read Nneka Allen’s University of British Columbia lecture, “Us and Them, What it Really Means to Belong.”
    3. Listen to the two-part episode of the Giving Black podcast that features Mide Akerewusi, Nneka Allen, and Múthoní Kariuki. (Part 1 & Part 2)
    4. Read Mide Akerewusi’s recent LinkedIn article to learn about his vision for the future of AFP-GTC.
    5. Read Birgit Smith Burton’s recent LinkedIn post regarding Mide’s appointment as the Interim President of AFP-GTC.
  3. If you do not identify as BIPOC and aim to be an ally, educate yourself on ways to go farther  –  whether it’s attending a training on how to mitigate bias or simply supporting a BIPOC colleague during a meeting, we encourage you to take steps both big and small on your IDEA journey.

This statement is just one facet of AFP-MN’s commitment to fully embracing inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility. Moving forward, we invite you to share your feedback with the board of directors or our chapter President, Tricia Wright, so we can continue to improve.

In solidarity,
Tricia Wright, Board President of AFP-MN, and the AFP-MN Board of Directors*

*This statement was co-written by Tricia Wright, Courtney Backen, and Alyssa Whalon, and approved by the AFP-MN Board of Directors on June 20, 2023.