Photography by Dero Sanford
In Cynthia’s family, growing up in Pennsylvania, she learned the concept: each one, teach one. That’s also what the Association of Fundraising Professionals does. Through education and mentoring, they encourage each person in the organizations to develop the heart of a philanthropist – to give, to share and to encourage another person to give.
After college, Cynthia had an opportunity to work for the American Cancer Society, based in Phoenix and then on the national staff of the Multiple Sclerosis Society, based in the San Jose and San Francisco areas, with responsibility for 25 states coast to coast. She returned to Arkansas and joined Arkansas Children’s Hospital as vice president of the foundation, where the CEO shared his amazing vision for pediatric care, love and hope in Arkansas.
At that time the Association of Fundraising Professionals did not exist in Arkansas. Cynthia was young and eager to learn and share, so three of her Arkansas colleagues met regularly for breakfast to share fundraising development and leadership ideas. The group included Ben Kelley from Baptist Health Foundation, Ed Shafer from Children’s Hospital and Mary Dillard from Nonprofit Resources. They decided that Arkansas needed to form a chapter of the National Society of Fundraising Executives, which later changed its name to the Association of Fundraising Professionals. So, they challenged leaders of every nonprofit organization and launched the Arkansas chapter in 1981 with great involvement from many gifted leaders in Arkansas.
The focus was to help fundraising staff become more effective, efficient and successful, so they could raise more awareness and more money for the numerous beneficial and worthy causes in Arkansas. The group grew to 100 people, and they met at lunch to hear talented speakers and workshop leaders share their brilliant ideas.
They created an annual statewide Fundraising Development Conference so more individuals could participate in numerous workshop presentations. Many civic and business leaders volunteered their time to make the fundraising conferences remarkably successful.
The Arkansas Chapter AFP leaders established an advisory board of directors to develop essential curriculum for 10 significant topics, including board leadership, financial management, major gifts, special events, capital campaigns, strategic planning, marketing and planned giving fundamentals.
The Arkansas Chapter AFP leaders decided to host the first Philanthropy Day at the Country Club of Little Rock in 1986, where philanthropists and nonprofit organization leaders were honored. During the past 40 years the Arkansas Chapter AFP has captured many opportunities to provide visionary leadership in philanthropy, to encourage people to serve nonprofit organizations, to give investment gifts of all sizes and to work with integrity. They collaborate with leaders of the Arkansas Charitable Gift Planning Council, Arkansas Community Foundation and others so Arkansas nonprofit organizations have every opportunity to be more successful in their endeavors.
Traveling across the country in Cynthia’s early work life, she recognized that developing and leading a nonprofit organization and managing it well, requires the same skills as creating a start-up business and growing it into a profitable venture. It involves identifying problems, challenges, and needs in a community and then providing the solutions. It requires tapping the right team members and having a financial plan. It includes identifying others with passion, who will invest in the venture, creating a vision and implementing a plan that will change lives.
Now, as a national consultant, She works with local and national leaders to seize opportunities and possibilities in life and connect with other visionaries. Philanthropy includes giving our time, our leadership ideas and our financial resources to influence change.