Skip to main content

WNC Business

Fundraising professionals contribute to nonprofit success

Dec 14, 2023 08:43AM ● By Randee Brown

The Association of Fundraising Professionals, Western North Carolina Chapter covers a wide area of the region, from Hickory to the far western corner of the state, according to Chapter President Tiffany Drummond Armstrong.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals is an international organization with many chapters covering different regions of the world. Driven by volunteers, the Association does have a global staff that provides guidance and credentials as a professional association; however, the chapters function independently.

With a mission to support fundraisers and nonprofit leaders, AFP WNC members include development staff, directors, and executive directors, most of whom are involved in their local nonprofits, according to Armstrong. Membership consists of about 135 members representing 100 to 120 organizations, and about 15 members serve on the board.

Membership benefits include monthly programming as well as two major annual events. Program speakers are often volunteers offering expertise on subjects relevant to the field such as best practices, diversifying revenue streams, fundraising ideas, ethics, and ways to integrate AI into fundraising. 

One of AFP WNC’s major annual programs is the Philanthropy Institute, focused on learning and providing opportunities for networking and building connections between nonprofit executive directors, development staff, and volunteers. A keynote speaker is present, and a series of workshops is offered on a range of relevant topics. Chapters often look to AFP Global to anticipate conversations and trends, and this information is also used to determine monthly workshops throughout the year. 

The other major annual program is National Philanthropy Day each November. This event provides an opportunity to recognize philanthropy in the community, which typically fills gaps within available government services. Local philanthropists often focus on issues including food scarcity, homelessness, and medical care as well as arts and education, and this event recognizes all the people that help make it possible 

“This event allows us to recognize and thank all the people in the community who participate in giving,” Armstrong said. “We want to make sure the people who want to give can make the right connections, and with between 200 and 250 at each event, it is more than the opportunity for organizations to recognize the people in their sphere.”

AFP WNC also offers mentoring for those new to the field, according to Armstrong. Networking and social events are also planned in addition to other programs, and participants are encouraged to get to know each other and rely on the group, as they often communicate in organically-formed small groups for support.

“We’ve been around for more than 20 years and are a huge part of professional support for nonprofits,” Armstrong said. “There’s lots of inspiration, incredible people, and generous souls, and I love being around that energy. People often speak to the learning and support of this network and the success they’ve experienced over time. Someone once said to me they truly credit AFP for their success, and joining was one of the smartest moves they’ve ever made.”

A percentage of participating members strives to earn a Certified Fundraising Executive certification, and AFP WNC helps to provide some of the educational credits required to keep the certification as well as helping fundraisers prepare for the exam.

“There are only a small percentage of fundraisers that work to achieve this certification,” Armstrong said. “It often takes years of professional development to prepare and have everything in place, and really speaks to their commitment in the field. This can take someone’s profession up to the next level, and we would support anyone seeking that.”