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Monday, March 2, 2020

Alice Ferris to Receive Founders’ Medallion From Largest Community of Fundraisers in the World

Alice Ferris, ACFRE, CFRE, MBA will receive the AFP
Founders’ Medallion at AFP ICON in Baltimore on March 29th

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the largest community of fundraising professionals in the world, will honor long-time fundraiser Alice Ferris, CFRE, ACFRE, with its Founders’ Medallion for her extraordinary contributions to the organization and the fundraising profession. Congratulations Alice! We are so proud of you!

(Reprinted from the

(Arlington, VA)  The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the largest community of fundraising professionals in the world, will honor long-time Arizona fundraiser Alice Ferris, CFRE, ACFRE, with its Founders’ Medallion for her extraordinary contributions to the organization and the fundraising profession at its upcoming international conference, AFP ICON 2020, in Baltimore, Md.

The AFP Founders’ Medallion is presented to members who, through their dedication to the principles of ethical and effective fundraising, honor the legacy of AFP’s founders: Harry Rosen, Benjamin Sklar, Abel Hanson and William R. Simms. Recipients must have been members for at least 20 years, served with local chapters and at the international level, and worked to foster the development of the profession and the fundraising community throughout their careers.

Ferris is the founding partner and chief executive of GoalBusters, a consulting firm in Flagstaff, Ariz., focusing on small nonprofits. Through her consulting firm, she is currently supporting fundraising activities for KAWC Colorado River Public Media and Border Radio in Yuma, Ariz., the Experimental Aircraft Association in Oshkosh, Wisc., and Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Ariz., among others.

Prior to launching her consulting firm, Ferris served as director of development and similar positions for a variety of organizations, including Lowell Observatory, Flagstaff Medical Center and KNAU Arizona Public Radio, all located in Flagstaff. At each organization, she vastly increased membership and fundraising numbers, such as leading KNAU to its first $1 million fundraising year.

Ferris has more than 30 years of affiliation with public broadcasting and has appeared on numerous public television and radio pledge drives, including national PBS fundraisers for Downton Abbey, Ken Burns: America’s Storyteller and Suze Orman’s Financial Solutions for You.

"It was a total shock to get the call from AFP President and CEO Mike Geiger asking me to accept this honor,” Ferris said. “Honestly, I thought he was calling me to serve on a task force to select the next recipient! AFP has been such an ingrained part of my professional identity for so long that it has always felt natural for me to volunteer and give back. The list of members who have received the Founders' Medallion includes people whom I consider part of AFP's fabric, and whom I respect as fundraising trailblazers and change-makers. And, luckily for me, a few of them I consider mentors and friends. I'm sure that they, like myself, did not commit to service to AFP and the profession for the recognition—my volunteerism is an inherent part of my calling to be a fundraiser. So this is an unexpected privilege and a gift."

An active volunteer with AFP for decades, Ferris has served as president of the AFP Northern Arizona Chapter on three separate occasions over the last twenty years—as well as every other chapter position, including multiple times as chair of the AFP Arizona State Conference. On the international level, she was on the board of AFP Global for eight years, including two years as vice chair of member and chapter services. Over the years, Ferris has held leadership roles in all areas of association operations, including credentialing, awards, membership, chapter development and fundraising.

Ferris was the 90th professional to receive the Advanced Certified Fund Raising Executive (ACFRE) credential, the most rigorous certification process available to professional fundraisers and which has only been conferred to 114 fundraisers around the world. She is also a three-time recipient of the Northern Arizona Chapter’s Fundraising Professional of the Year award.

“When you think of service and AFP, Alice Ferris comes top of mind,” said Mike Geiger, MBA, CPA, president and CEO of AFP. “She has contributed so much to AFP over the years, and her efforts have improved so many different aspects of our association and the community of fundraisers worldwide. This honor is so well deserved, and on behalf of the board and staff of AFP, I want to thank her for everything she has done for fundraising.”

Ferris earned her Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Radio-TV-Film and Economics and her Master of Business Administration with a double major in Accounting and Management from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She obtained her Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) in 1999 and is certified through 2020. She received her ACFRE in 2010 and has been an AFP Master Teacher since 2006.

The 21st AFP member to receive the Founders’ Medallion, Ferris will receive the honor during the Opening General Session of AFP ICON 2020, the largest gathering of fundraising professionals in the world, March 29, in Baltimore, Md.


Sunday, May 26, 2019

Ikigai and the Modern Fundraiser

Cute, but not a way to live.
I love my work. Really, I do. 

Like me, most of my friends who have made fundraising a career like their work overall. But I see far too many of us scampering on the big hamster wheel, trying to keep up with the continual demands of the charitable sector. There's always another budget number to hit, another event to manage, another proposal to write, and "other duties as assigned."

Beth Kanter and Aliza Sherman's book, The Happy, Healthy Nonprofit: Strategies for Impact without Burnout, highlights some incredible stories of how badly things can go when nonprofit professionals ignore self-care. Yet we continue, as a sector, to emphasize that our passion and drive to change the world is enough.

While there are a lot of discussions about finding "your why" and focusing your passion, in reality, it's not just about that. To make a sustainable difference in the world, we need to take care of ourselves.

In Japanese culture, there is a concept called ikigai, loosely translated to "your life's purpose." If you Google this word, you'll find many articles about applying this concept to your life, including this one on Medium

Illustration from Toronto Star
The basic idea of ikigai is that to feel fulfilled with your life's purpose, you need four spheres in balance:

  • What you love to do
  • What you are good at
  • What the world needs
  • What you can be paid for

If you are able to do what you love, and you're good at it, you are pursuing your passion.
If you are able to do something you're good at, and you can get paid for it, you've discovered your profession.
If you can be paid for something that the world needs, you have a vocation.
If you are doing what the world needs, and you love it, you have your mission.

I've been presenting on this topic for the last year and struggling with it personally for much more than that. When you're thinking about your life's purpose, what's missing for you? What sphere is out of balance?

I've been using several tools over the past few years to work on my personal sense of ikigai. I'm writing a series of blog posts in the coming weeks to highlight each tool and provide tips on how to work on your own ikigai. To be notified when the next post is available, subscribe to this blog on the right, or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

Friday, September 28, 2018

Lessons from an Extraordinary (Donor) Journey

The #DonorJourney Crew, clockwise from top left:
Guy Mallabone, Sue McMaster, Jenny Mitchell, Stephen Pidgeon
"Do you have time for a quick call? I have a time-sensitive item to discuss with you."

This short message from Guy Mallabone was the start of an adventure that brought me to Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg and Saskatoon. All in five days.

The Extraordinary Donor Journey, presented by Global Philanthropic Canada, brought together Guy Mallabone and Sue McMaster from Calgary, Jenny Mitchell from Ottawa, Stephen Pidgeon from the UK, and me, the token American, for a curated conference for non-profit organizations across Canada. When we convened in Halifax, it was like being at the start of a school trip--you don't know most of your group well, and you certainly haven't traveled with them!

The pattern began: present the program all day, pack up the stuff as quickly as you can, take transportation to the airport, grab dinner, fly to the next city, slog on to the hotel, rinse, repeat.

Five days. Five cities. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything did not go perfectly. But thanks to the adaptability and team spirit of our mighty band, we thrived and, I think, came to truly care about one another in a short period of time.

While I learned many things from the program content of my fellow presenters, my strongest takeaways are from behind the scenes....
  • How you think about money affects everything. I am grateful that Jenny shared the Sacred Money Archetypes model in her session. Jenny's explanation was, "If money were someone standing alongside you, what kind of person would it be?" Would it be supportive? Judgmental? Petulant? Rebellious? What the conference participants didn't know was that Jenny had all of us do the quiz at the start of the journey. Initially, our call backs to our archetypes were opportunities to tease Guy, but as the week evolved, I found that the context of money mindset was useful in understanding each other and our values.
  • Trust begets trust. In reality, we didn't know each other well at the start of the week. It would have been easy, and expected, to be guarded until we got to know each other. Guy set the tone early, however, because of an unexpected family situation. He had to let down his guard and trust us. His ability to persevere under difficult circumstances led us to not only to deepen our connection with Guy, but with each other. This led to open and fulfilling conversations that I had with each of my colleagues, and I am better for it already.
  • If at first you do succeed, try, try again. Halifax was the first time any of us saw the others' presentations. While the core parts of each of our presentations was the same in each city, we thrived off of drawing from each others' content and making small improvements from city to city. In many respects, we were accepting Stephen's call to focus on "the concept"--how can you think sideways to get at the core message? The chance to refine the same presentation every day for a week was a great way to challenge myself.
  • It can be rewarding to be a sherpa. There's a lot of stuff involved in presenting a conference! At first, Guy carried all the banners and Sue carried all the other materials, but those barriers broke down relatively quickly. Pitching in and helping where needed felt far more rewarding than just watching others do the heavy lifting. By the end of the week, we were "Global Philanthropic sherpas," and proud of it!
As I write this, I'm still in Saskatoon; most every one else has gone home. I am exhausted, but grateful, for the opportunity to spend time with some amazing people. I've learned so much in five days, and hope to have a chance to do this all over again. To Sue, Guy, Stephen, Jenny, James, Steve and Jeff, thank you for an experience I won't forget.


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