Virginia Association of Fundraising Executives

  • Monday, September 18, 2017 3:09 PM | Anonymous

    Joystick: Guiding and Managing Your Nonprofit Business by Brydon DeWitt, Lou Markwith and Tom McCarty, along with a group of professional colleagues, is a collection of best practices for all areas of nonprofit governance. 

    A book launch reception and signing will be held Thursday, September 21st at 5 p.m. at St. Joseph's Villa. To register for the reception e-mail DeWitt & Associates.

    The success of every nonprofit organization is directly tied to the leadership of the CEO, the Board Chair, and the Board.  It is to this group of nonprofit pilots, co-pilots, and navigators that Joystick is addressed. Divided into helpful sections, each brief chapter contains specific, practical advice that applies to leadership challenges faced by those who manage and operate these charitable businesses for the benefit of others and society. Sound management and development principles are translated into pragmatic, usable guidance that nonprofit executives and chief volunteers will refer to again and again.

    Purchase a copy from the CreateSpace store or from Amazon.

  • Friday, September 15, 2017 1:13 PM | Anonymous

    You cannot do enough – you cannot go overboard – on giving your donor information on what his giving accomplished. You can easily do too little. So be alert to that. The main reason donors stop giving, give less or just go away is because they did not know that their giving made a difference. 

    Read the full article from Richard Perry and Jeff Schreifels of Veritus Group.

  • Thursday, September 07, 2017 2:49 PM | Anonymous

    Who serves on today’s nonprofit boards? How are they composed and organized? How do they conduct their work? How well are they fulfilling their many important roles and responsibilities? What impact are they having on organizational performance?

    Leading with Intent: 2017 National Index of Nonprofit Board Practices answers these questions and is the latest in BoardSource’s series of studies tracking and analyzing trends in nonprofit board leadership since 1994. Key finding of the study include:

    1. Boards are no more diverse than they were two years ago and current recruitment priorities indicate this is unlikely to change.
    2. Boards are starting to embrace their roles as advocates for their missions, but stronger leadership is still needed.
    3. Strong understanding of programs is linked to stronger engagement, strategy, and external leadership — including fundraising.
    4. Boards that assess their performance regularly perform better on core responsibilities.
    5. Chief executives and board chairs agree that the board has an impact on organizational performance, and that two particular board characteristics matter most: the board’s understanding of its roles and responsibilities, and the board’s ability to work as a collaborative team toward shared goals.

    How does your board compare to your peers in its composition, culture, and practices? Explore trends and insights about today’s nonprofit boards. And use the data to start a conversation with your board. Download the 2017 study and check out some of the other governance resources available at BoardSource

  • Wednesday, September 06, 2017 2:42 PM | Anonymous

    It's time -- maybe even crunch time -- to do your year-end fundraising. For most organizations around the world, the big money comes in December.

    A stumble at the end of the year can hurt you in a big way. So you'll appreciate this post from Fired Up Fundraising: #1 Year-End Fundraising Mistake: A Weak Ask

    In a nutshell:

    Far too many organizations are sending out too few appeals, with timid letters that make weak asks.

    Here's a two-step secret to success at year-end:

    1.      Ask more than once during your peak season.

    2.      Ask boldly, with flair, drama, and urgency.

    That's it, pretty much. It can make the difference between a poor December that you'll never get back, and one that turns any year into a good one!

    Re-posted from Future Fundraising Now.

  • Wednesday, September 06, 2017 2:39 PM | Anonymous

    Now is your opportunity to register for the new year of VAFRE's Professional Partnership Program! Applications must be received by September 15th.

    In four years 54 members have participated in the P3 program, which offers VAFRE members an annual opportunity to develop more extensive professional skills and understanding. Each group meets to discuss job-related concerns they have identified as of the greatest interest. The most succinct description I’ve heard of the program to date is “the cheapest group therapy available.” 

    Beginning July 1st, the fee increased to $75 per year, but at that price it's still, as one participant noted, "the cheapest therapy in town." 

    Click here for an application, or read more below.

    What is P3?

    The purpose of P3 is to provide an annual opportunity for VAFRE members to develop more extensive professional skills.  A team of two or more highly seasoned and experienced volunteer Leaders will guide small groups of approximately five to seven people (the Participants).

    What makes P3 so unique?

    Participants will complete an application form that provides information about their professional goals.  In addition participants will be encouraged to identify specific areas of interest – such as the annual fund, working with the development committee, managing your boss for fundraising, building relationships with program staff etc.  From this information a preliminary identification of topics of most interest will be shared with Leaders.  From there, however, it is up to each individual group to determine those job-related topics of greatest interest.  Because of the informal nature of P3, it is not expected that participation will qualify for accreditation required by the CFRE certificate.    

    How does the program work?

    The goal is that each group will meet with their Leaders a minimum of six times between October 1 and May 31.  It is recommended that each session be two hours in length.  Leaders or participants may arrange additional sessions if they desire and of interest to the group.  Groups will decide when, where, and the time of day/evening that is most convenient for them.

    Leaders are responsible for all communications with their groups as well as for all materials needed for sessions.  Leaders will prepare to the fullest extent possible for each session as well as handle any follow-up that is needed.  Leaders will provide best practices and advice based on their experience.  However, Participants will be asked to sign a document which will hold Leaders harmless in the application of this advice/best practice. 

    What is the cost?

    The fee for each participant is $75 effective July 1, 2017.  Fees are paid to VAFRE and are intended to cover the out-of-pocket expenses of the sessions and do not benefit the Leaders.

    Who or what group is responsible for P3?

    Ultimately the VAFRE Board is responsible for the P3 program.  The P3 program is a subcommittee of the VAFRE Program committee.  This year’s program chair is Nick Sollog of The Sollog Group.  Corey Humphrey, VAFRE Board member and Director of Development at the Virginia Mentoring Partnership, is the chair of this year’s P3 Program.

    What are the qualifications of the Leaders?

    Most of all, Leaders must be passionate about the unique concept of P3 and willing to be flexible and responsive to the interests of their group.  Secondly, there is an emphasis in selecting leaders who have had extensive front-line (in the trenches) fundraising and management experience.  To be considered, a prospective Leader should have the following experience:

    • A minimum of ten years as a development professional
    • Demonstrated experience and management responsibilities in one or more areas of the following: annual fund, membership acquisition, major gifts, planned giving, corporate/foundation relationships, donor stewardship.
    • Held a supervisory position that was ultimately responsible for the direction and success of fundraising activities
    • Created, managed budgets
    • Held positions that reported to the organization’s most senior professional (president, executive director, board of trustees)
    • Worked closely with volunteer leadership including the board of trustees and/or the development committee.

    If you would be interested in serving as a team leader, click here for the informational form or e-mail Mary Kidd at


     Contact P3 Chair Corey Humphrey.

    Sign Me Up!      

    Download the application here. 


    Thanks to our exclusive P3 sponsor, West Avenue Associates, for their support of the program! 

  • Wednesday, August 30, 2017 12:52 PM | Anonymous

    The Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities is pleased to announce a new resource for Richmond-area nonprofit organizations.  Thanks to initial funding from the Robins Foundation and fund management from the Richmond Jewish Foundation, the RVA COMMUNITY FUND FOR STANDING TOGETHER was launched on August 21st, 2017.


    This funding opportunity supports Richmond-area nonprofit organizations with financial support for rapid response services after incidents of bias, discrimination, or bullying. These incidents often require immediate interventions that are not covered by traditional funding mechanisms. As such, this fund ensures that nonprofit organizations will have greater capacity to meet needs that are increasingly urgent in today’s climate.  Nonprofit organizations are invited to apply for mini-grants of $500, $1,000, or $1,500 to support interventions including facilitating, convening, counseling, and coaching.

    Jonathan Zur, President and CEO of VCIC, says that he encourages organizations to apply for funding to support community-wide solidarity events after incidents of bias or discrimination, schools that need professional development or student workshops after bullying etc.

    The grant application form can be found online. Completed application forms can be submitted at any time to  Applications will be reviewed by an objective, diverse committee on a weekly basis, and approved requests will be funded within two weeks.

    This RVA Community Fund for Standing Together will exist until all resources are expended.


    Individuals or foundations interested in donating to support this effort can go here and select “RVA Community Fund for Standing Together” in the “Fund Designation”.

    Contact the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities by emailing with any questions and please spread the word about this opportunity!

    To learn more about Standing Together RVA go here.

  • Monday, August 28, 2017 2:51 PM | Anonymous

    from the Stanford Social Innovation Review

    Nonprofits actively court trustees from the business sector, believing their experience will add a lot of value to the organization, but many of these recruits don’t appreciate the complexity of the sector or the need to learn how to be a good trustee. As a result, they stop being the observant, motivated people they are in their for-profit roles. They stop thinking critically.

    Why does this happen? We think it’s because a lot of businesspeople who join nonprofit boards enter their role with two very wrong preconceptions: 1) businesses are more efficient than nonprofits, and 2) nonprofits are more ethical than businesses. Read complete article...

  • Tuesday, June 06, 2017 3:46 PM | Anonymous

    For more than 35 years, VAFRE – the Virginia Association of Fundraising Executives - has provided a forum for networking and education for fundraising professionals at all levels. The welcoming and collegial environment that is the hallmark of VAFRE helps development professionals stay current on important issues in philanthropy and in the Central Virginia nonprofit community.  Friendships and mentor relationships strengthen the nonprofit community.

    During the Annual Meeting and State of the Organization on June 6th Immediate Past-President Thomas Millisor, MBA, CFRE and Katherine Whitney led a discussion on the strategic planning process the Board has just completed, the plan that was adopted and the next steps identified to build an organization that supports VAFRE members and the nonprofit community.

    To review a copy of the plan, click here.

  • Monday, May 08, 2017 3:50 PM | Anonymous

    On Tuesday, June 6th, VAFRE will hold its Annual Business Meeting, at which time the membership will be asked to elect the proposed 2017-2018 slate of Officers and Directors and approve the proposed 2017-2018 budget.


    • President: Lynne Berkness, Northstar Academy
    • Immediate Past President: Thomas Millisor, CFRE, ChildSavers
    • Vice President: James Wasilewski, VCU Wilder School
    • Secretary/Treasurer: Jennifer O’Rourke, CFRE, Richmond Metropolitan Habitat for Humanity

    Other Directors

    • Cristina Cruz, VCU School of Dentistry
    • (new Board member) Jennifer Cunningham, Virginia Voice
    • Courtney Elliott, St. Joseph's Villa
    • (new Board member) Sarah Fernald, Better Housing Coalition
    • Natalie Foster, Junior League of Ricmond
    • Lisa Freeman, E. L. Freeman Associates
    • Corey Humphrey, VCU School of Education
    • Anne Hurt, Trinity Episcopal School
    • Kathy Laing, Institute on Philanthropy
    • Carol Anne Lajoie, VCU Institute for Contemporary Art
    • Scott Lyons, Rich Gross Solutions
    • (new Board member) Jennie Romero, John Tyler Community College
    • Nick Sollog, The Sollog Group
    • Dan Stackhouse, The New Community School 
    • Samantha Thurman, United Way of Greater Richmond and Petersburg
    • (new Board member) Robinette Tiller, VCU Massey Cancer Center
    • Harry Warner, West Avenue Associates
    • Roy Zeidman, Special Olympics Virginia

    For brief Board biographies, click here. For a copy of the proposed budget, click here.

    If you won't be able to join us, be sure to send in your proxy!

  • Tuesday, February 14, 2017 2:30 PM | Anonymous

    Congratulations to VAFRE’s 2017 Award Winners:

    • Samantha Wheeler Marrs, Nina Abady winner, and
    • Alex Wiles, Rising Star winner.

    Samantha Marrs (pictured at left) is the Senior Associate VP, Development and Alumni Relations, at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her career in philanthropic work spans nearly 25 years. Samantha joined VAFRE in 2000, when she relocated to Richmond and joined the development staff at VCU as Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations, after having served 8 years as a program manager at the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She’s been involved with the local chapter of AFP since 2003 and involved with the Association of Advancement Services Professionals, a national membership group, since 2008. Samantha is also active in the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education, an international association of educational institutions serving advancement professionals who work on their behalf.  At the core of the mission of all four organizations is the advancement of ethical fundraising practices.

    Since joining VCU, Samantha has overseen the growth of corporation and foundation funding from $5M to $23M annually; led a $10M capital campaign and managed a volunteer board of 30 for VCU Rice Center; directed staff through the 2004 launch of the University’s $330M campaign; obtained a $1.5M grant from Altria to sustain VCU’s daVinci Center for Innovation; obtained VCU’s first Howard Hughes Medical Institute funding ($2.5M over 2 grants); obtained $2.5M in grants to build the VCU Institute of Contemporary Art; developed and delivered training, in partnership with the Office of Sponsored Programs, to assist faculty in identifying and soliciting corporate and foundation funders, and; overseen the development and implementation of the University’s first moves management program and tracking system. Instrumental to the continued success of VCU’s development program has been Samantha’s investment in developing the talent and skills of current and future fundraisers and providing career growth opportunities for all development staff.

    The Nina Abady Award is the most prestigious award given by the Virginia Association of Fundraising Executives. It is presented to a fundraising professional who has demonstrated utmost excellence in the field of development. The award signifies to individuals, organizations, and the greater community that the recipient has garnered the respect and admiration of colleagues throughout the Commonwealth for professional and ethical service. 

    Alexandra (Alex) Wiles (pictured at right) joined the Community Idea Stations in 2014 as the second Major Gifts Officer on the current team of four. With her help, the major gifts program has grown by leaps and bounds, tripling in the last five years with a 92% retention rate. The annual fund program continued to grow while the station conducted a capital campaign for which Alex personally raised $38,000. Outside of work, Alex is a recognized talent in Richmond’s acting community, playing a lead role in Richmond Shakespeare’s recent production of Hamlet. Before joining Community Idea Stations, Alex worked for a year as the Development Coordinator at the Boys and Girls Club.

    The Rising Star Award is made annually to a VAFRE member who exhibits excellent potential and who has demonstrated remarkable talents at an early stage in their fund-raising career.

    Award winners are selected from a competitive field of finalists who are nominated by VAFRE members, area fund-raisers and board members. The selection committee convenes each year to review nominations and select the winner.

    For details and registration for the Awards Luncheon, click here. For Awards Sponsor information, click here.

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VAFRE • P.O. Box 6605 • Richmond, VA 23230
Office/Fax (804) 368-3398

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