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!