Pause, Reflect, Come Together

Pause, Reflect, Come Together

Recently, while preparing to welcome our new board members to AFP Advancement Northwest during their onboarding orientation, I was reminded how important it is that take a moment to look back in time in order to understand how we might move forward – together. Let me explain.

The founding of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) can be traced back to 1960 when three individuals came together over lunch one day in New York City. One was from Brandeis University, another from the National Urban League and the third from the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies. They had been discussing the need for a national organization of fundraisers because they had seen the impact that fundraisers have not only on the non-profit sector but on the nation as a whole.

Specifically, they saw the importance of professionalizing the work, providing leadership and ethical guidance, training and education, and providing access for those seeking to make a start in the field. To this day, the essence of those goals continues to ring true in an organization that is 33,000 members strong.

Fast forward to 2012, when seven individuals gathered representing the past, current and future presidents of two similar, but different organizations - NDOA (Northwest Officers Association) and AFP Washington. What started as a simple breakfast meal together with the singular vision, to figure out how our two organizations might work more collaboratively together, turned into the beginning of a conversation that would change how our local professional association would be known.

After a few years of shared meals together filled with aspirational discussions, reports on what our organizations were doing together, healthy debates about our sector, and updates on our families and our professional lives, this growing group of leaders (and their respective boards) reached the conclusion that our community would be better served with our combined efforts as one organization. In 2015, AFP Advancement Northwest was born.

I share these two stories because I believe they highlight a very simple, but important concept – we need communities in order to solve the world’s most pressing challenges. And that communities starts in the most basic way – by connecting with each other and in person.

As leaders, we are often turned to for our opinions, expertise, and decisions. The truth is, it scares me sometimes. But you know what always gets me through it? My community of friends and trusted colleagues that I have been fortunate to have shared a meal or two or three with. They allowed me to relax my guard, play with ideas, and perhaps even seed a few in the process. You don’t need me to tell you how important this moment in time is for our sector to shape a just, moral, and sustainable society, but perhaps this article is just enough to nudge you to pick up the phone, send a text, or message that person you’ve been meaning to reach out to. Our world is changing fast and we need you to succeed.

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