StarChapter of March: AFP St. Louis

Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) St. Louis is committed to promoting philanthropy in their region and strengthening local nonprofits. Together with AFP International, they promote high ethical standards in the fundraising profession in St. Louis and throughout the world. AFP St. Louis is one of the largest, most active in the nation. They seek to foster the development and growth of fundraising professionals at every stage of their careers.

  1. What was AFP St. Louis’ strategy for engaging new members in the past year?

AFP St. Louis makes a concerted effort to welcome our new members and stay in touch regularly to keep members engaged.  Upon joining our chapter, a member of the Membership committee reaches out to welcome the new member, share upcoming events, and let them know how they can plug in to AFP St. Louis.  Additional calls are made at 6 months to get feedback about services offered by the chapter and membership value and at 11 months to ask if the new member will be renewing their membership.  Our membership chair also invites new members to sit with them at events to help them connect to other new, and existing, members to help build a connection to the Chapter. A representative from the Membership Committee or the Board of Directors greets guests at events to welcome new members and promote the benefits of membership to non-members.  Given that budget issues are a concern with many individuals, we also heavily market the new member discounts offered twice a year from IHQ (usually in Mar-Apr around the International Conference and Oct-Nov for National Philanthropy Day)

  1. Tell us about a successful event/meeting you organized last year.

Last year, our Chapter listened to member feedback and offered a series of new events to respond to concerns about the cost of events and time constraints.  Our Programming Committee offered Coffee or Cocktail conversations throughout the year to reach new audiences within our region.  These more informal get-togethers gave members a chance to network, hear from seasoned professionals and ask questions in a smaller, more cost-effective setting.  Coffee and Cocktail events were offered in between our larger programming events and topics included Donor Stewardship on a Budget, Donations of Complex Gifts, Advocacy and Lobbying, and the Do’s and Don’ts of Digital Fundraising.  The cost to attend these sessions was minimal and the informal environment allowed for deeper conversation specific to the needs of the attendees.  It is our hope that the value and information obtained from these events inspire attendees to attend other AFP St. Louis events and join the Chapter if they aren’t already a member. 

  1. The AFP St. Louis network is extensive. Does the board get ideas on how to improve membership value from other chapters?

Absolutely!  We recognize and appreciate that other AFP chapters are doing amazing work and our Board is very open to new ideas.  We are fortunate to have many of our members attend the International Conference as well as the Leadership Academy and other professional development events and conferences who connect with peers and share ideas. Information gleaned at these events is shared at our local Board meetings to determine if it would be beneficial for us.  Certainly, every Chapter is unique so even if ideas can’t be completely replicated, new perspectives always inspire great conversation and reflection about what we could do differently as a Chapter to improve our membership value.    

  1. Do you have any tips/advice to share with other board volunteers?

Just as we do with the donors we work with every day, it is important to get to know your board members and find out what inspires them to help find a role that is meaningful for them and for your Chapter.  At the same time, it is also important to recognize that this is a volunteer position and each person brings a different perspective, experience, and ideas to the table.  Serving on a Board can sometimes involve difficult conversations and decisions but respect for differing ideas and perspectives from your members and gratitude is key. 

  1. What is in store for your members this year?

We are thrilled to continue offering our Coffee and Cocktail Conversations this year along with our fantastic AFP St. Louis Gateway Conference on Philanthropy.  Due to popular demand, we are excited to offer additional sessions of our Advanced Professionals Round Table in December and Fundraising 101 and 102 seminars to make these informative sessions available twice per year.  We also are proud to continue a successful partnership with our local Planned Giving Council to offer our members the opportunity to attend several planned giving seminars. 

  1. How have been able to utilize StarChapter to run AFP St. Louis and reach its goals?

Since we adopted StarChapter in late 2017/early 2018, we have appreciated the opportunity to house our events and registration process in an easy-to-use platform that is linked to our membership database.  Migrating to a new platform also allowed our Board and Marketing Committee the opportunity to evaluate the content on our previous website to freshen up the content and more closely align it with our Chapter strategic goals. In the near future, we hope to renew a Chapter blog on our website to inspire conversation, engage members by allowing them the opportunity to write guest posts, and offer another way to connect as a resource to our chapter and region.  We also hope to migrate our email platform to StarChapter and look forward to having so many of our Chapter resources in one place.  We have just scratched the surface of the benefits StarChapter can offer AFP St. Louis and look forward to continuing to learn more about the platform and how it can benefit our Chapter!

Would you like to share the success story of your chapter with other board volunteers? We'd love to feature you! Fill out this form to let us know.


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