President's Message

AFP Greater AZ Chapter

Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith, CFRE
President - 2024

January - 

As the new year begins, I am reminded of how thankful I am for community. Just five years ago, I made the move from St. Louis, Missouri, to Phoenix, Arizona. Starting anew in an unfamiliar city, I’ll admit I was terrified. Aside from family, I did not know anyone in the area. Shortly after beginning my position at Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, my supervisor encouraged me to join the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Greater Arizona Chapter (AFP). This group of nonprofit fundraising professionals welcomed me with open arms. I met a few board members at my first AFP education workshop, and they invited me to join a committee and stay involved. That was the start of growing a supportive community in AFP.

Fast forward to 2024, and I am honored to be serving as President of AFP-Greater Arizona Chapter this year! I am continuously inspired and grateful to be working with a hardworking and dedicated Board of Directors. Through AFP, I have met so many knowledgeable and collaborative nonprofit professionals who have become mentors and friends.

Take that first step to grow your community and attend the AFP education workshop on January 23! Presenter Frank Velásquez, Jr. will discuss how we can engage donors through community-centered practices in fundraising. In addition to education workshops, you can get involved in various committees and network with fellow professionals. The opportunities are endless!

If you are interested in learning more, please do not hesitate to reach out to me. A new year is an opportunity for growth, and now is the time to grow your community with AFP!

February -

2024 is in full swing! This past week, I have taken time to reflect on how invigorating the start of this year has been. The AFP-Greater Arizona Chapter Board of Directors is hard at work on some exciting initiatives and dynamic programming, and their dedication and energy continually inspire me.

A highlight of the past few weeks for me was attending and participating in the AFP-Greater Arizona Chapter education workshop on January 23rd! Frank Velásquez, Jr. provided an empowering presentation and discussed how we can engage donors through community-centered practices in fundraising. Throughout the presentation, Frank facilitated thoughtful dialog and conversation with the attendees.

During a part of the workshop, Frank reminded me that  “You’re not stuck.” As fundraisers, we can sometimes become accustomed to specific processes or models that have been in place. Frank then shared another quote: “Change the formula to get a different result.” Through his workshop, Frank challenged me not to be stuck. I left the session inspired to adopt new ways of building relationships with donors that foster belonging and genuine connection by engaging them in transformative work. Frank reminded us that language matters and subtle changes can make a big difference when communicating and connecting with donors.

Every year is an opportunity to unlearn, relearn, and grow. I encourage you to continue your learning and growth with the supportive community of AFP-Greater Arizona Chapter in 2024! This month, we have multiple education and networking events that are highlighted in this newsletter. These events are at no cost to members!

I look forward to connecting with you this month!

March - 

Happy March! I can’t believe we are almost through the first quarter of 2024. Thank you to all members who have engaged with the AFP-Greater Arizona Chapter this year! It’s been so wonderful to connect with you. The AFP-Greater AZ Chapter Board of Directors has planned and provided some engaging events for members to connect and engage in meaningful conversation. 

Most recently, on February 29, 2024, the AFP-Greater Arizona Chapter IDEA (Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access) Committee Chairs Naquana Borrero, CFRE, and Ernesto Ortiz, CFRE hosted a thought-provoking and timely panel discussion, “Fundraising While Black,” to celebrate Black History Month. During the event, attendees heard from panelists Camille Ridley, Victor Yates, MPA, Naquana Borrero, CFRE, and Atasha Hill, CFRE, with the discussion moderated by Ernesto Ortiz, CFRE. Each panelist openly shared their journey into fundraising, successes, challenges, advice for African American fundraisers new to the field, and hopes for the nonprofit sector.

This conversation was incredibly insightful and important! I am so inspired by Camille, Victor, Naquana and Atasha for their passion and steadfast dedication to making the nonprofit sector and our communities stronger!

The AFP-Greater Arizona Chapter Board of Directors is committed to IDEA and impactful programming! If you would like to learn more about joining the IDEA committee and other committee involvement opportunities, click here! It’s not only a fantastic way to connect with other members, but you can also positively impact the nonprofit sector. Your experiences, skills, and perspectives are so valued!

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