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Fundraising Goes Global – Challenges and Opportunities

May 11, 2017

AFP was proud to bring together 25 CEOs and board members representing 11 different national fundraising associations from around the world for the 8th International Fundraising Summit on Friday, April 28, prior to its International Fundraising Conference in San Francisco.

The summit, held at the San Francisco Red Cross offices and chaired by Daryl Upsall, FInstF, CEO of Daryl Upsall & Associates headquartered in Madrid, Spain, included a broad and diverse array of fundraising leaders from Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Spain, the U.K. and the U.S. to reflect on and address common opportunities, challenges and solutions.

“I was so honored to be in a room with other people who are advancing fundraising in their countries, each with their own unique strengths and opportunities,” said Ana Luisa Ramirez, board member of the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy – Mexico. “For example, in Mexico, we are facing a significant leadership gap, and need more fundraisers to step up and take leadership positions. We also have charities and the public who think fundraisers are “superheroes” and can run multiple campaigns and do everything while being barely paid. We need to educate charities that they need to invest in fundraising. 

Summit participants heard from Peter Lewis, CEO of the Institute of Fundraising in the UK, how charities were addressing public trust issues there in the wake of several controversies involving fundraising over the last three years. Rob Edwards, the CEO of the Fundraising Institute of Australia, then spoke about how his country was learning from the UK experience and what the Institute was doing to better educate charities and donors.

“What struck me most is the diversity of representation, but at the same time, the commonality of the issues,” said Joe Wang’endo, president of the Kenya Association of Fundraising Professionals. “We all spoke the same language and were facing similar changes. It was also interesting how the wave of technology has also changed the way we look at fundraising. Africa and Indian were previously thought of as fringe markets, yet they are now overtaking the rest of the world in use of mobile platforms to fundraise. We can learn a lot from each other.” 

Scott Decksheimer, CFRE, chair of AFP Canada, agreed: “Globally, fundraisers and professional leaders are dealing with many of the same issues.  Seeing what is happening with technology in China, media attacks in the UK, and leadership needs in the US, helps us prepare for the challenges and opportunities that can and will emerge in Canada.  Now we need to share this with our members.”

A key part of the Summit was a review of the International Statement of Ethical Principles in Fundraising, which has been approved at the Summit in October 2006 by 24 different national fundraising associations. Summit participants went through the Statement to ensure it was updated and remained relevant to the global profession, and further discussions centered on next steps to take to increase awareness and usage of the document.

“Whether it is the challenge of fundraising being recognised as a real profession in emerging markets; the challenge of finding the next generation of fundraising leaders or addressing the challenges posed by overzealous legislation and regulatory control, we need to work together to build strong and robust cultures of professional fundraising and philanthropy based on high ethical standards around the world,” said Upsall.

At the end of the Summit, participants were enthusiastic about even closer cooperation and more communications, including future “virtual” summits hosted with video conferencing to allow for wider participation. The Institute of Fundraising in the UK agreed to host the next Summit around its National Fundraising Conference in June 2018.

“I feel that it is vital for the sector that we meet periodically and exchange experiences, ideas and learning,” said João Paulo Vergueiro, CEO of the Brazilian Fundraisers Association (ABCR). “To have AFP organize the Summit and being able to host so many national fundraisers association was a great thing. We share with our sister organizations the excitement of promoting philanthropy within our communities and developing the capacity or our local nonprofits.”

“It was a great program and very inspiring to have fundraising colleagues from around the world come together like this and work to advance our profession,” said Jason Lee, president and CEO of AFP. “Many thanks to Daryl for hosting the Summit, and to Penelope Cagney for helping to develop and coordinate the event, as well as to the San Francisco Red Cross for letting us use their facilities. The closer we can work together as a united global profession, the stronger fundraising and philanthropy will be for all practitioners.”