Chapter Updates and Event Summaries

Couldn’t make it to that interesting brown-bag lunch or education session? Want to stay up to date with AFP-MN updates? Don’t worry! Check this space for updates on AFP-MN activities, and summaries of past events. Our goal is to ensure that all fundraisers in our community can benefit from the knowledge and content shared. Read updates and summaries of our recent events below.

The panelists and participants had a robust discussion about how to have important conversations with donors, supervisors and colleagues, even though the topics may be uncomfortable.

Watch the conversation here.

Key Take-Aways:
Alignment of values: The panelists talked about this in terms of between the fundraiser and their employer and between the fundraiser/organization with the donor. This is a big umbrella that many additional themes play into and influence. Ultimately, the big questions are: Do your employer’s values align with yours? Do the donor’s values align with yours and/or the organizations?

Support from leadership: Leaders and colleagues, especially who are white, need to continue educating themselves. Leaders should encourage others to pursue learning opportunities to be better allies. Leaders have a responsibility to create space and have conversations to let your fundraisers know that you support their work and their boundaries, allowing them to take the opportunities to have uncomfortable conversations with donors.

Know and respect your own boundaries: Trust yourself and your own experiences. Recognize when you or your community are being put in an unsafe position. Exit situations as needed. Again, support from leadership and alignment of values can be critical to sustainability/retention of staff and feeling safe as a person.

Power dynamics in fundraising: There is a power dynamic between donors and fundraisers that needs to be disrupted. Fundraisers have felt the need to appease donors and be thankful all the time. But we need to start looking at donors as our partners. It isn’t just about what the donor can offer us, but what we can also offer to the donor. Education might be one of those things! Have those uncomfortable conversations!

Learn more:

Most days, I feel so fortunate to be a fundraiser.

I see this work as a calling, not just a profession. I always say that fundraising is about connecting community needs with community resources. It is a partnership, with the recognition that we are all in this together. The success and the survivability of our community is dependent on each member contributing to their full ability.

It is no secret that we are experiencing an incredibly challenging time for our global community. As an organization, and as a country, we are being asked what we truly value, and how we represent that.

When I joined the AFP Minnesota board, I was the only Black woman – in fact, I did not know a single other Black fundraiser. It was clear that AFP Minnesota did not represent the growing diversity of the nonprofit sector and was not doing enough to support the fundraisers of color.

While we built on a foundation of service and expertise created by the many fundraising professionals that came before us, change was needed.

I’m proud to say that as a result of a commitment to access, AFP Minnesota leadership decided to “put our money where our mouth was” and invest in Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) work. We are committed to investing in real solutions and intentionally reaching out to fundraisers who have been left behind in the past.

AFP Minnesota leadership and other volunteers listened to member needs, participated in Diversity, Inclusion, and Access trainings, and over several years developed a range of opportunities, including the IDEA Fellowship program, for fundraising professionals who identify as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, or People of Color).

As part of this work, we realized that the time had come for us to research, clarify, and share our values as a chapter.

Like all values, there is an element of aspiration – these are the values we seek to uphold in our quest for a more equitable future. You might say its overdue, but I know things happen at the right time. You can learn about our chapter values, and the future we commit to here.

I step into my role as President for 2021 – 2022 as the current longest-serving member of the AFP Minnesota Board of Directors. It has been a journey to get to the place we are at today – and there is much work yet to do.

I am proud to lead AFP Minnesota into the next 50 years, and I am grateful you are here to stand with me. Thank you.

Michelle Edgerton, MA

AFP Minnesota President 2021-2022

Aaron began by describing John Winthrop’s 1630 sermon, “City on A Hill.” In this famous sermon, Winthrop, a Puritan and a founder of the Massachusetts Bay Colony, spoke about building community and protecting the group from external threats. In creating and defining his community, Winthrop was also defining those who did not belong, an “outgroup.” This was the first of many examples Aaron shared in which a community group’s altruistic intention carried a dark underbelly. Aaron described how this became a pattern in American history: white leaders created community hierarchies that positioned white people at the top consolidated power solely with white, upper-class people, and defined an “outgroup” based on fear.

Voluntary associations, the precursor to the non-profit, proliferated in mid-nineteenth century America. These organizations leaned heavily on fundraising strategies we use today, such as donor societies and public recognition. Following the pattern Aaron described, many of these associations were very successful using altruism to control and harm poor, immigrant, and Black communities.

The insidious effects of these white-led voluntary associations helped prop up harmful class assumptions about an uneducated labor force, and launch the class structure that we still experience today. Organizations such as museums, orchestras, private colleges, etc. raised funds successfully, and cemented exclusive power for intellectual and wealthy elite classes.

This history continues to affect the philanthropic landscape, and profession, today.

Watch Aaron’s full presentation here

Key Take-Aways:
Aaron reminded us that movements are built when we win people over through hearts and minds one at a time. As fundraisers, we can use our skills as relationship builders to help move folks further in their journey. He suggested we consider action at three distinct levels:

Individual: How can we incorporate things that challenge our views into our daily life?

Organizational: Recognize the power we have access to in our workplaces. Fundraisers interacting with senior leaders, donors and boards can advocate for anti-racist policies. How can we use our positions of power within our organizations? Question the tools: does your organization’s mission allow you to talk about race with regard to your work?

Systemic: Start with learning our histories; personal, organizational and place-based.

Learn more:

  • The Revolution Will Not be Funded, Beyond the Non-profit Industrial Complex. INCITE, Women of Color Against Violence.
  • Decolonizing Wealth. Edgar Villanueva.
  • Philanthropy and Cultural Imperialism, The Foundations at Home and Abroad. Robert F. Arnove.
  • Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. Anand Giridharadas.
  • Contact Aaron via email for further conversation:
  • Look for a follow up session on this topic in April!

Neil challenged us to recognize the power of metaphors and reimagine our role as fundraisers in the future through the use of metaphors. Neil has graciously provided a recording of this session, which you can access here. Please note the disclaimer around sharing/engaging with the content at the beginning of the recording. Click here for a chat transcript from the session.

Key Take-Aways:

  • A metaphor is comparing one to another thing that it isn’t
  • Metaphors change how people think (e.g., equity vs. equality) and help build the world we want
  • Use this exercise to reimagine your role as a fundraiser:
  • Be [metaphor]: what fundraisers are (agent)
  • [Metaphor]ing what activity fundraising is (action)
  • To [Metaphor]: what the purpose is (purpose)

Explore the resources below to learn more: