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Inspiring Fundraisers to be Exceptional…What Does It Mean?

Thursday, July 26, 2018   (0 Comments)
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Inspiring Fundraisers to be Exceptional…What Does It Mean?

By Jillian Day, CFRE, Strategic Change Committee Co-Chair



Before I discovered fundraising as my passionate second career, I worked in healthcare management. At that time, I learned about strategic planning as an associate supporting internal coaches on large change management projects. I remember one key lesson that stays with me to this day. Fresh out of graduate school, it was intimidating to sit in a room full of executives, expert physicians and accredited professionals. I wondered why this group needed help with strategic planning when they seemed to have it all together.


The consultant asked the executive owner of the project to define some terms the team used frequently in their planning. One of those words was “innovative.” As it turns out, his definition was not the same as the leader sitting to his left. In fact, the other members of that team had very different definitions, too. While the team reworked planning on specific priorities, that question prompted stronger alignment on the vision.


The lesson? Question your assumptions and knowledge frequently.


That kind of curiosity guided last year’s strategic planning process for the AFP-Greater Houston Chapter, a journey of several months that involved many different stakeholders. The results are here in this graphic.


The vision is engaging: Inspiring fundraisers to be exceptional. The strategic areas are thoughtful, actionable and lofty. As co-chairs of the Strategic Change Committee, Ronnie Hagerty and I are collaborating with an amazing committee of board members and fundraisers to oversee the implementation of that plan. Our guiding question has been “what does that vision mean in practice and on the ground?”


That’s why we’re excited to share this update with you, our members and fellow fundraisers. You are the stakeholders of this plan. Our focus this year is on the strategic areas about programming, leadership development and marketing. With your help and patience, here’s what we’ve learned and accomplished in the first six months of the year:

  • Partnered new management company – After completing a RFP process last fall for a new management company, we started working with Paragon Events. While we are working through some areas for opportunity as our organizations learn about each other, the accomplishments that lay ahead will drive our chapter’s success in years to come.
  • Revived affinity groups – Under direction from past board members, we’re exploring how to bring back affinity groups within the chapter. Organized around different topics, these groups will serve as touchpoints for generalists and specialists to dive deeper into a subject or share knowledge.
  • Streamlining processes – To ensure a membership experience that you get the most value from, we’re looking at ways to streamline our processes. From registering online for an educational luncheon to signing up as a volunteer, our committee, board and leadership believes strongly in asking how these can be more efficient and seamless.
  • Advanced program planning – As fundraisers, we have many obligations at different times of the year. To help with your planning, we plan to announce a majority of the 2019 programming by the end of this year. Our Education Committee, in partnership with the Strategic Change Committee, are creating a diverse menu of topics for you to attend.

A strategic plan is only as good as the stakeholders who support it. A vision and a purpose only come alive when those doing the work use it to influence their day-to-day activities. As a member of the Houston chapter of AFP or as a fundraiser in this city, this plan belongs to you. If you have an idea to implement one of the four strategic areas we’re looking at this year, please reach out to Ronnie or myself through our chapter administrator at If you have questions or comments, share those, too!


We are at a great turning point as one of the largest AFP chapters nationally in the country’s most charitable city. You are key to implementing our shared vision of inspiring fundraisers to be exceptional. Help hold our committee accountable as a key stakeholder in this plan.

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