Open Letter Regarding Fundraiser Bill of Rights
Sent to Mike Geiger, AFP Global on November 8, 2022

November 8, 2022

Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA
President and CEO
Association of Fundraising Professionals
4200 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 480
Arlington, VA 22203-4118

Dear Mike:

I write this open letter to you and our colleagues at AFP Global on behalf of the Chicago Chapter, our Board of Directors, and our membership. I trust that this letter finds you in the middle of carrying out AFP's mission: to empower individuals and organizations to practice ethical fundraising through professional education, networking, research, and advocacy.

I also write today on behalf of two extraordinary AFP members in Chicago: Amelia Garza, MA, CFRE, and Jennifer Holmes, MA. In addition to being active members of the AFP Chicago community, Jennifer and Amelia undertook a massive project in fall of 2020: developing a Fundraiser Bill of Rights that empowers us to engage our organizations and philanthropic partners in dialogue around harmful power dynamics in fundraising. With an approach that centers their years of experience as women of color in philanthropy, they created a document in which the values of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA) are leveraged to provide real solutions to real issues. As an AFP Chicago Board Member, I am proud that this work came out of Chicago; as a fundraiser, I'm grateful for their thought leadership, and for their diligence and perseverance in documenting appropriate protections for me in my career.

The AFP Chicago Board of Directors was also proud when Amelia and Jennifer's work was published in the April 2021 edition of AFP's flagship membership magazine Advancing Philanthropy. It was a thrilling moment for us, as a chapter and as a community, to see their brilliance reach so many others. Since that publication, Amelia and Jennifer have presented their Fundraiser Bill of Rights at multiple conferences and to multiple organizations, and their work has been shared internally with dozens of other audiences.

For these reasons, we were confused when your message in the AFP Daily from May 23, 2022, laid out the need for a fundraiser bill of rights, and outlined a plan for AFP Global to convene a working group to author a new document. We were dismayed to see Amelia and Jennifer's copyrighted work and extensive expertise erased from the conversation, particularly when we had been so grateful to see it uplifted a year prior.

I write to you now because Amelia and Jennifer have already reached out on their own behalf, both to you and to the incoming AFP Global Board Chair Birgit Smith Burton, to request that their work be acknowledged and cited-but AFP Global has failed to acknowledge it, or the harm this erasure causes. I am, sadly, aware of the irony of needing to advocate now for these two fundraisers of color, who have already done so much for their peers. Frankly, I should not need to. Their work speaks for itself, as it did when you published it.

I hope you will consider:

  • Publicly acknowledging their Fundraiser Bill of Rights as a catalyst for conversations around equity in our profession and an important contribution to ongoing dialogue;

  • Publicly acknowledging that erasing the work of our BIPOC colleagues is counter to AFP's mission and our belief in the importance of IDEA; and

  • Commit to citing and crediting Amelia and Jennifer's work in all Fundraiser Bill of Rights documents that are created by AFP Global;

  • Being mindful, in the future, that we are exactly as strong as our members and volunteers, and that their work and service are the lifeblood of AFP.

Thank you for your time, Mike, and I wish you all the best in carrying forward this important work.

Nathan Armstrong

Nathan Armstrong
AFP Chicago President, 2022

CC: Tricia Fusilero, Executive Director, AFP Chicago

The AFP Chicago Executive Committee, 2022

Ann Kora, President-Elect
Dottie Bris-Bois, Vice President, Continuous Learning Council
Christopher Chantson, Treasurer
Sarah Danahy, Vice President of Member Engagement
Tula Gogolak, Immediate Past President
lshan Johnson, Vice President of IDEA
Kelsey Nelson, Vice President of Resource
Carlos Trejo, Secretary

Amelia Garza, MA, CFRE
Jennifer Holmes, MA

Birgit Smith Burton, AFP Global, Chair-Elect

View Mike Geiger's Response to AFP Chicago's Open Letter

View Nathan Armstrongs Response to Mike Geiger