This April, I was the fortunate recipient of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) Charlotte Chapter Scholarship, allowing me to attend the AFP International Conference in New Orleans. Aside from the obvious perks of being in New Orleans in April (beignets and crawfish pies and no humidity!), the highlight of the conference was meeting and learning from fundraising professionals in all stages of their careers. I especially enjoyed connecting with women from YWCAs across the country, from YWCA Clark County in Vancouver, WA to YWCA Central Alabama. I now have an ongoing group e-mail with these awesome YWCA women, where we’re able to bounce ideas off of one another and ask for and give advice.
From attending the amazing sessions to having the opportunity to hear one of my heroes, Bryan Stevenson, speak, I left the conference feeling inspired and energized to continue this important work. If you have not already, I urge you to watch Bryan Stevenson’s Ted Talk and to read his book, Just Mercy. Moreover, I challenge each of us to follow his “four steps to change the world”, starting here in Charlotte: 1. Get proximate (to people who are suffering); 2. Change the narrative (recognize and call out harmful, false messaging when we hear it, whether in the media or in your own space among peers, friends, family and coworkers); 3. Stay hopeful (“injustice prevails when hopelessness persists”); and 4. Do uncomfortable things (change will not occur if we continue to accept the status quo and do not purposefully step out of our bubbles).
I’m grateful to AFP for choosing to highlight Bryan Stevenson’s work, and for giving me the opportunity to learn and grow. I look forward to using what I learned about fundraising to move YWCA’s mission forward.