Submitted by Rikki Starich, Communication Chair
I’m definitely in a unique situation because I work for an organization that is based in a small city in Central Wisconsin where there aren’t many people who do what we do. Add to that the fact that I actually working remotely from Milwaukee most of my week and I can definitely feel like I’m on an island some days. Even though the Northeastern WI chapter is “based” a few hours from where I live and work, AFP continues to be a lifeline for me!
Does the idea of “being on your own” in the fundraising work sound familiar to you for any reason at al? Then maybe you aren’t leveraging all the ways you can connect with your fellow AFP members. I’ve learned some tricks over the years that I wanted to share with all of you.
Just like there are countless ways to connect with your donors these days, there are just as many ways to connect with your fellow AFP members.
Attend in-person programs – When you attend an AFP coffee chat, wine social, or luncheon, sit down next to someone new and introduce yourself. Small talk can be hard for many people but AFP provides some commonality. Start with questions like “How long have you been in the fundraising professional?” or “What’s the most meaningful project you’ve ever worked on?” and you’ll have connected with a new colleague in no time! If you don’t live near the program but you really want to go, maybe you can carpool with someone from another organization in your area and extend the learning while you’re in the car!
Use social media – Did you know that AFP NEWI has a Facebook page and LinkedIn community? Follow our pages and seek out people you’ve met at AFP events on social media. Maybe take it a step further and connect with new or renewing members on Linked
In! Sending them an “I see you recently joined AFP NEWI. Welcome!” message is a great way to connect with someone who works for an organization you’re interested in or who might be able to give great advice in the future.
Connect to individuals face-to-face – Maybe you’ve reached out to someone with a similar job function on social media and you want to share experiences, brainstorm ideas, or even swap horror stories. Why not schedule a time to get together over coffee and trade fundraising knowledge. The beauty of AFP is that we can all learn from one another! I recently had coffee with Amanda Moore, annual giving manager for Rawhide, Inc, while I was traveling through Appleton one morning. We have similar job roles and had a great time spending an hour swapping stories.
Connect your team to another organization with a similar mission – Have you gotten to know someone whose organization sounds remarkably similar to yours and you think your colleagues could learn a lot from one another. Work with your supervisors to schedule a learning session. My organization has done this with other health care organizations throughout the Midwest and we always walk away feeling incredibly energized! AFP is a great way to find other organizations like yours.
One last tip… Did you know that AFP has chapter rosters available to all members online? Once you’ve logged in look under the members section of the AFP International website (afpnet.org). You can see a complete roster for not only our chapter but any other chapter! Contemplating a move to a new area? Reached out to begin networking even before you move. Trying to find someone who works for your dream organization? Check the AFP directory. Switching from one type of nonprofit to another? Find others who work in your area and ask for their advice on how you can be successful in your first 30 days. The possibilities are endless.
Whether you work for an organization where you’re the only fundraiser, are the only staff member period, work in a large office but you’re the only one who does your job, or are just looking for new ways to do things, use AFP to connect with others to learn new skills and swap ideas.
If you have more suggestions on how members can connect with one another, please pass them along! We’d love to add them to the list.