April 11, 2010, 07:00 PM ET
Fund Raisers Look Back 50 Years
At the Association of Fundraising Professionals' 47th annual conference, which opened here today, organizers noted that 2010 marks the 50th anniversary of the organization's founding in 1960. It was not until 1963 that the organization held its first annual conference in Suffern, N.Y., drawing just 80 people. This year, 3,000 people are gathering for the meeting.
The National Society of Fundraisers, as it was originally known, was founded to increase the body of knowledge about effective fund raising, promote ethical fund raising, and enhance the public's understanding of the fund-raising profession.
Those contributions were sorely needed, as more than one speaker noted, because the organization was founded at a time when some fund raisers were involved in scandals, and many people thought that being a fund raiser was about as prestigious as being a used-car salesman.
Since those days, the association has become "a template" for similar organizations for fund raisers around the world as nonprofit organizations have been growing rapidly in many countries, said Hank Goldstein, who served as president from 1973 to 1975.
The challenge, Mr. Goldstein said, is whether philanthropy can help fill the need in countries worldwide as government aid shrinks and demand for social services keeps rising. Whatever the future looks like, he said, "fund raisers will help take us there."