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Chapter Leadership Brief 9.11.2020

By Jill Scibilia, CFRE, AFP-NYC President-Elect, Vice President, Development, Phelps Hospital, Northwell Health

Nineteen is a particularly sad number this year. 

Nineteen years ago today on a Tuesday morning in early September, nearly 3,000 people lost their lives and more than 6,000 were injured.  In just a few short hours, our world changed forever. 

We are also now nine months into a global pandemic caused by a novel coronavirus called “COVID-Nineteen” that has already claimed the lives of more than 900,000 people across the globe and nearly 200,000 in the United States.  We don’t yet know the full magnitude of this pandemic or what all will change in our world as a result. We do know this will test us in ways we have not been tested before.

As professional fundraisers, we know these events can inspire people to respond in profound ways through their philanthropic giving.  Americans gave what was then a record amount following 9-11 and the story of charitable giving in response to COVID-19 is still being written.

How people respond to situations like these through their generosity can be very meaningful.  We have the opportunity—and dare I say the responsibility as fundraisers—to help people respond by connecting them with tangible ways they can support.  We may also gain the additional gift of hearing their stories and why they want to make a difference.  This is one of the reasons I love the fundraising profession.     

Our work can also wear on us.  Many of us lost people nineteen years ago or know first responders who answered the call.  Many of us lost people as a result of COVID-19 or know those who work on the front-lines.  All of us are still experiencing COVID-19, and it is important we take care of ourselves. 

One way I am going to do this is by continuing my practice of treating September 11th as a day apart. I will certainly engage with donors, but today will not be a day I initiate a solicitation. My focus will be to connect with those for whom I know today holds a special significance.  I will also take the personal time to remember all those we lost nineteen years ago, all those who responded and all those who live on.

Thank you for your leadership and commitment to professional fundraising—and for all you do to help people make a difference.

With gratitude,


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