Chapter Leadership Brief 9.13.18

By Gary Laermer, AFP-NYC President

I am often asked about the qualities I look for in hiring development professionals. In fact, as Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations at Pace University, I’m in a hiring phase right now. I have spent my whole career in this crazy and wonderful industry, starting back when there were few university programs to train fundraising professionals and donor databases were on index cards! Despite all the changes that have come to our profession since then, I still believe now what I believed then—that the most important quality for success in development is enthusiasm.

I look for those who come in every day excited about the work, the organization, and their co-workers.  Effective communication skills are also critical. Gifts are closed, donors are stewarded, and presentations are made by talking. Sure, we write and print a great deal, but at the end of the day this is still a face-to-face business—donors are motivated through conversations with gift officers. I look for staff that can communicate effectively one-on-one, in small groups, and in large groups. The first test might be how well they translate their education, experiences, and background (even those with no fundraising experience) into a value proposition for the organization.

Of equal importance is resilience. I ask how they celebrate the successes and overcome the disappointments. And how, after overcoming the disappointments, they can redirect the project and reverse the outcome.

Lastly, I strongly believe that whatever our educational or professional backgrounds and experiences are, a commitment to lifelong learning is a key indicator of someone who wants to grow and perform at a higher level. That’s the great benefit of AFP. The Professional Advancement programs at AFP offer an affordable and accessible platform for continuing education. It not only helps us learn and grow, but it also prepares us for what’s next in our careers. 

As Board President, I would like to express my sincerest thanks to all of the AFP volunteers who work diligently to put together a calendar of excellent professional advancement sessions. Truly, our volunteers are essential to the growth and success of AFP as an organization and to our collective success as development professionals. 

I look forward to seeing you all at our upcoming Professional Advancements and wish our members great success in their careers and future endeavors.


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