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Three Cities United

Three Cities United

Chapter Leadership Brief

By Steve Jacobson, AFP-NYC President and CEO, JCA, Inc.

Yesterday, I had the distinct honor and pleasure of participating in a webinar with two other AFP chapter presidents.  Why was this webinar so special, you might be wondering?  After all, webinars are everywhere these days and, yes, I’ve been on a number of them.  Well, it wasn’t just one thing; it was a number of things. 

It started with an invitation from Steve Ragan, the president of the AFP Greater Detroit chapter.  He thought that it would be great to get together the chapter presidents from New York City, Detroit and New Orleans, three of the cities hardest hit by Covid-19.  We could talk about the cities, where we are in recovery and how our fundraisers have adapted to the new normal.  I immediately said to count me in.

As we started our more in-depth planning, we realized that our cities had more in common than just the coronavirus.  Each of our cities had suffered through a catastrophic event.  New Orleans had had Katrina, New York had had 9/11 and Detroit had had a gut-wrenching, wallet-busting bankruptcy just five years ago. We remarked that each event was essentially local, but the support we had all received had been national.

But, this time it’s different.  The catastrophe is national in scope, but the experience is local.  As such, we now share a common bond where we understand each other’s pain from a first-person experiential perspective.  But, we all realize that it’s just a bit different given the varying make-up of our communities, the inherent safety nets we have and the different lifelines available.  The one constant across all three cities is the indomitable, unbreakable spirit of our fundraising family.  Whether it’s being on the front lines with our health care workers, helping to load food onto trucks or opening up our wallets, we share a spirit of selflessness.  No matter how bad things get, we just dig down a bit deeper, drawing on the resolve we’ve steeled from the past catastrophes we’ve each endured.

One of the questions raised on the webinar was: What does the short-term and long-term future look like for fundraisers?  We were quick to answer that, overall, the future is hard to predict, but the one constant that has come out of each catastrophe is that philanthropy will endure.  The spirit of giving that we have seen time and time again here in New York is not based upon some fleeting thoughts.  No, it’s ingrained in each of us.  It’s what we do. It’s what makes our fundraising community strong.  It’s what will carry us through these challenging times and whatever lies ahead on our path forward.

So, remember, as we try to unwind from another frenetic and stressful week, we’re doing purposeful, meaningful work, and that your AFP family in Detroit, New Orleans, New York and elsewhere is right there with you.

Have a good weekend and stay safe!

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