TCT Network Ribbon Cutting Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio

Association of Fundraising Professionals:
Providing Education and Tools for Successful Philanthropy
(Helping Others Make Their Mark)

(Part Two)

By: Katie Sobiech

<< Part 1

The AFP's biggest event of the year is National Philanthropy Day on November 18th.

"We honor people who need to be honored in our community," Allen said. "It's so near and dear to my heart."

Sponsors are recognized and the audience gets to see what the program has done in the last year.

"The children in philanthropy are my absolute favorite," Allen said, "One nine year old child raised money for the Children's Hospital. She was like a little adult on a step stool reading her speech."

The same girl raised over 1,300 pounds of food for Harvest for Hunger - the equivalent of over one thousand meals.

"She's amazing, she's my hero," Allen said, "She'll rock your world."

She told Allen "I don't have a choice, I have to do this. People are hungry."

Alex Gump is another child who hasn't let age stop him in making a difference in the world.

"This little fella came in a suit and tie," Allen shared.

He raised more than $120,000 for the Cancer Society and worked with Make a Wish to raise $5,000 so that a child could go to Disney World.

"And these are just the kids…" Allen said.

Several different categories are awarded throughout the luncheon, including Philanthropist of the Year, Business of the Year, and Fundraiser of the Year.

"These people do it because they love it. They don't do it to get recognition, so the fact that we can give them recognition makes it all that more special," Allen said.

Members Only

A membership is necessary, but worth it, in being educated to improve one's fundraising potential. This includes a smorgasbord of opportunities, including access to mentoring, round table discussions and educational programs.

Michael Solosky, Donor Relations Coordinator at Haven of Rest Ministries, has attended AFP functions for six years, but just recently became a member.

"I recently joined the AFP because I wanted to engage myself in additional training and knowledge for purposes of helping the Haven of Rest," Solosky said.

"Every program I've ever attended sponsored by AFP was always excellent in quality of material and content. It pays also, in my opinion, to surround yourself with other professionals in your field. That is how we grow and improve as people and professionals. That's also why I joined. Plus they are just nice people," he continued.

Collaboration just seems to work best.

"When you look at the non-profit sector and the billions of dollars that are raised on an annual basis, it's raised through a concerted effort of fundraisers," Allen shared.

"We watch each other's back because I don't want anyone to be unsuccessful," she continued.

Career Service Institute (CSI) is another perk of membership.

This day-long event offers continuing education.

"In our business, things change quickly," Allen shared, "When you look at the needs in the community and organizations that have to raise this money, we want to be able to make sure we're doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reason."

They don't miss a thing.

"We catch all of the gossip so we have a pretty good picture of what is going on from the community's perspective," she shared.

Six months out of the year they have breakfasts with speakers who talk on the latest trends and best practices.

"This year we have a very distinct purpose in diversity. Our most recent speaker was on diversity and how you build a very diverse work force to meet the needs of a diverse population," Allen said.

Importance of Ethics

"There are ethics we hold pretty high," Allen said.

A code of ethics must also be signed by members. If violated, membership may be retracted.

"They cover a variety of topics including, but not limited to, Ethics in Fundraising. At Haven of Rest we always strive to achieve the highest standards of excellence in whatever we do. If there are better ways of doing things, I want to learn about them. AFP is one way to do that," Solosky said.

Worldwide Venture

"There are hundreds of chapters all over the world. We're an international organization and our chapter is considered a ten-star chapter, which means it's one of the top performing chapters," Allen said of the Akron chapter.

They've gained this recognition because of their diversity, in terms of ethics, and the different types of programing offered.

Some of their affiliates are even in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia.

"It's just a way for fundraising professionals to be a part of something bigger and to constantly be learning from other organizations," Allen said.

Not Selling

"The thing about fundraising is you never really sell anything…you just tell a story. I rarely ask "will you give me money?' I ask 'How do you want to help?' If I know a donor is interested in Christian education or building a camp for kids with special needs, that's my job to find that out, and then find out how they want to help," Allen said.

"Maybe its money, maybe it's time. Maybe you want to volunteer for Habitat for Humanity or maybe you want to volunteer at the Civic (Theater). We can always figure out how to make that happen," she continued.

"It's fun. I like it. I get excited about it," Allen said of her work, "We feel it's important to give back."

If you are interested in finding out more or becoming a member of this group please visit for more info.

If you are interested in finding out more or becoming a member of this group please visit for more info.

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