Undoubtedly, your life has been improved by philanthropy. When you visit a hospital, attend a college or university, participate in a religious service, listen to community radio or experience the visual or performing arts, you benefit from philanthropy. From the Greek “love of mankind,” philanthropy represents the act of supporting the institutions and causes that to improve our quality of life. Can you imagine what our country would be like without the foresight of Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller? Today, Warren Buffet, Bill and Melinda Gates, Oprah and Mark Zuckerberg have all picked up the gauntlet. While we all may not be able to give to at the level of these noted philanthropists, everybody has the capacity to make a difference. Professional fundraisers help engage individuals and organizations in the philanthropic process.
As president of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Southeastern Wisconsin Chapter, I’m humbled and delighted to submit this inaugural “Philanthropic Impact and Insight” column for the Biz Times. You may wonder, “Why is there an Association of Fundraising Professionals?” and “What do fundraisers do?” I can address the first question now; but the answer to the second question takes a little more explanation and will unfold in future columns.
In a nutshell, AFP exists because nonprofits need resources to carry out their work—just like a sports team like the Packers needs training. Nationally, nonprofit financing comprises more than 5 percent of our gross domestic product (Urban Institute National Center for Charity Statistics, 2012), much of it provided by contributions from individuals and organizations. Since 1960, the AFP has inspired global change and supported efforts that generated over $1 trillion. AFP's nearly 30,000 individual and organizational members raise more than $100 billion annually, equivalent to one-third of all charitable giving in North America and millions more around the world. Closer to home, the Southeastern Wisconsin chapter has more than 300 members representing 130+ institutions and causes in seven counties.
There are more than 9,000 nonprofit organizations in southeastern Wisconsin alone, the majority of which rely upon some sort of contributed income. These organizations run the gamut from grass roots PTAs, little leagues and churches to community clinics, art organizations and community centers to universities and hospitals. Just like the U.S. Post, these organizations operate 24/7, in good times and bad, and this requires financial and human resources. Many of these institutions employ professional fundraisers to connect donors to their dreams and make our community a better place.
November is National Philanthropy Month. BizTimes and AFP share the goal of engaging more individuals and organizations in philanthropy. In the coming weeks, both organizations will present awards to community leaders in the philanthropic sector. BizTimes will host its inaugural Nonprofit Excellence Awards Program on Nov. 4 at 8 a.m. at the Potawatomi Hotel. The event begins with a panel discussion about the status of the local nonprofit sector and explaining how to connect business leaders and companies to charities. The awards will then recognize individuals, organizations and nonprofit groups that are advancing the sector. The following week, on Nov. 11, AFP will host its 36th annual National Philanthropy Day celebration at the Pfister. The event begins at 9:30 a.m. with an educational session on “Living Your Brand” by Julie Raye, Director of Brand Strategy for Brandgarten. At noon, the NPD awards ceremony, hosted by WISN Channel 12’s Joyce Garbaciak and Toya Washington, will recognize individuals and organizations that help support the nonprofit sector. Registration links for both events can be found below.
This column will continue to examine the impact of philanthropy on our sustainable future. Following the momentum generated through the celebration of November as National Philanthropy month, we’ll highlight the challenges facing the nonprofit sector and how they affect all of us…and the opportunities that we share to invest in civic improvement through philanthropy.
In the coming months, we will share how AFP advances effective and ethical fundraising and how this makes a difference for all in southeastern Wisconsin. Thank you for reading, and I hope you will return to Philanthropic Impact and Insight on Nov. 21, when we announce a local recipient of an award from AFP International.
Contributed by Amalia Schoone, president of AFP Southeastern WI and edited by Peter Zehren, vice president of communications, AFP Southeastern WI.