Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Fundraising Giant Bill Hanrahan Passes Away

William B. (Bill) Hanrahan, one of the fundraising profession’s true pioneers and statesmen, passed away late Monday, Aug. 17.

There’s so much I could say about Bill. He was such a force in the profession and was committed to the ideals of philanthropy and ethical fundraising. I know those kinds of words get used a lot, but in Bill’s case, it’s the truth. When you have a relatively young profession like fundraising, there are people who have literally created the profession and helped develop the key touchstones of our work. Bill was one of those people.

He served in the profession for more than 40 years. He actually joined Community Counselling Service (now known as CCS) as an office clerk and worked up the ladder of the firm to become one of the principal owners in the 1970s. He helped CCS become one of the biggest and most experienced firms in the profession. His work guided some of the largest and most well-known charities in the world.

Despite all that work though, Bill always had time to mentor people, and I think that’s probably the lasting image I will have of him. If you’ve looked at CCS staff over the years, Bill was never afraid to hire good, smart young people, mentor them and let them spread their wings. It was no surprise to me that Bill and CCS jumped at the chance to sponsor AFP’s Outstanding Fundraising Professional award because he always wanted to highlight the great work of others.

I first met Bill when he served as fundraising counsel to the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) over 15 years ago. We became friends from that time on, and my respect and admiration for Bill, and his commitment to the profession, has only grown. I had the great opportunity to work closely with him during his 8 years on the board of the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy Board.

During this time, I witnessed Bill’s enormous passion and commitment to AFP and the fundraising profession. He took on many challenges during his year as chairman of the foundation, and through his influence and statesmanship many changes were made that have served AFP well over the years.

Bill was to receive the AFP Founders’ Medallion in October at our Leadership Academy, and I will be eternally sad that I will never be able to present it to him in person. No one was more deserving.

If you’d like to remember Bill, the family is asking you consider a donation to the Little Sisters of the Poor, an organization that will receive donations in his honor. Please mark "In memory of William B. Hanrahan" and mail to: Little Sisters of the Poor, 110-30 221st Street, Queens Village, NY 11420; or Little Sisters of the Poor, 2999 Schurz Avenue, Bronx, NY 10465. You can also make a contribution in his memory to the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy.

I was always honored to count Bill as a friend and colleague, and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends. He offered me advice and counsel when I needed it, and sometimes even a shoulder to lean on. He was not just as a great fundraiser, but also a great mentor and person. We’ll miss you, Bill!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Oh, Canada!

What do the Olympics, kissing a halibut and new fundraising regulations have in common? Why, the AFP Canadian Leadership Retreat, of course!

I just got back from the retreat in Victoria, British Columbia, where some 50 chapter leaders from across the country came together to plot AFP’s course in Canada over the next 12 months. I was joined by our chair, Robbe Healey, our chair-elect, Andrea McManus (who will be our first Canadian chair ever) and several of our staff.

Canada hasn’t been affected by the recession in general as much as the United States, although certain areas have been hit hard. Overall, there was a stronger sense of optimism than what I’ve experienced at U.S. AFP chapters recently, but that may just be the typical Canadian spirit as well!

I love these sorts of smaller, intensive planning events where you can really get to know your colleagues and have some in-depth and detailed discussions on issues. Hats off to Mark Climie-Elliott, the chair of the Canada Council, for leading and facilitating the discussion. (Incidentally Mark and Tania Little, the secretary of the AFP Foundation for Philanthropy-Canada, are obsessive about Facebook, so I’m sure you can find minute-by-minute details of the entire retreat on their pages !)

The theme of the event was “What if, what else and what’s possible,” and these ideas tied into all of our discussions. We had some great conversations about government relations, especially the Canada Revenue Agency’s fundraising costs guidelines. We’re planning on developing a major education initiative so that members are prepared and understand what these new regulations do—and don’t do! We also focused on media relations and how chapters can increase their work and awareness in this area, and there is a new goal coalescing around the need for create more collegiate chapters in Canada.

It wasn’t all work! Tying into the spirit of the Winter Olympics coming to Vancouver in 2010, Mark led an opening dinner session where each chapter brought up three accomplishments or best practices (gold, silver and bronze) it had achieved over the past year, in addition to silly and fun gifts for everyone. Ottawa took the cake with its little plastic bags filled with” hot air from Parliament.” In addition, an impromptu fundraising session during another dinner—with members offering money so yours truly, other staff and our chair Robbe Healey would kiss a halibut!—generated nearly $1,000 dollars for the foundation.

All in all, a great and energizing event, and many thanks to all of the chapter leaders that participated from across Canada. We’ve got a busy 12 months ahead of us!