Lately, I've been thinking a lot about the value of professional associations and how to communicate that value to members and non-members alike.
Having read that, you're probably thinking two things. One, I need to get a hobby. And two, oh great, a marketing piece for AFP.
Let me just say that you're right. On both counts. Sort of. Bear with me a moment.
I probably do need a hobby apart from fundraising. And for obvious reasons, yes, I'm always interested in increasing the value proposition of AFP to the fundraising community.
But apart from that, I've been struck by the reaction of some fundraisers to the economic challenges that charities are facing. There seems to be this "batten down the hatches" philosophy that says if we can just focus on our jobs even more intensely and go back through every minute detail over and over again, we will get through this.
The problem with this strategy is that we tend to isolate ourselves. Success doesn't happen in a vacuum. Inspiration doesn't come from doing the same routine time and time again. Long-term success comes from learning new skills, keeping updated on trends and talking with colleagues about what's working (and what's not).
In short, success and inspiration come from—yep, here's the marketing aspect of my post—your professional community! But still, I can’t shake the feeling that this ISN'T just marketing. The bottom line truth is, challenging times are when you need to improve the most—precisely so you can overcome these challenges. Challenging times are when you need your professional association the most.
As president and CEO of AFP, I hope you'll make our association your community. But regardless, understand that now is not the time to isolate yourself in your job. We all will find individual success, but it will only ever be achieved through others, working with other staff, volunteers, supporters—and in many cases, a professional community that provides training, interaction and perspective when you need it the most.
What do you think? Where do you find your inspiration? Do you think AFP is providing you what you need to succeed? Let me know!