Town Hall at AFG Conference Will Ask “What’s Next”

News | April 8, 2019

By: Natalie Zundel, CFRE

It has been five years since the Association Foundation Group (AFG) published the white paper AFG: The Next 25 Years, a special initiative to identify the unique opportunities and challenges facing association foundations for the next 25 years, with a focus on the next three to five years. It’s time to revisit this report and chart a course for AFG and our members for the next five years.  

With the benefit of hindsight, what did we get right, what did we miss and how have we fared? Looking forward, what’s on the horizon for our association foundations and how can AFG and its members’ position for success?

To answer these questions, AFG will convene a town hall meeting at the National Conference in Washington, DC on May 15th asking for your input. Register for the conference to participate, or send your questions for the future of association fundraising using our short survey.  With input from our membership, AFG will update its strategic plan and publish a new white paper about the future of association foundation fundraising in the fall (Interested in being involved in the thought group working on the report after the town hall? Email

Ahead of the Town Hall in May, I sat down with AFG past-president, and thought leader behind the original report, Barkley Payne to learn more.

Natalie: You launched the Next 25 Years discussion, and ultimately the report, during your tenure as AFG President (2014-2015). What spurred your creation of this report?

Barkley: I vividly remember looking out my office window one day on a phone call with AFG leadership discussing AFG’s 25th Anniversary. And we thought it would be terrific that the only association dedicated to this great profession would develop a white paper dedicated to ensuring a successful future for the next 25 years. And it was important to us to convene a diverse group of thought leaders in our profession to help better prepare all of us to better navigate the unique space in which we serve. I believed so strongly in this project, and was pleased to take the lead on the project.

Natalie: What was the process for pulling together the first report?

Barkley: We first surveyed all AFG members, then reported the survey results at a Town Hall meeting at the 2014 National Conference. We then launched a year long process with a small group to dive deep and assess the opportunities and threats that face fundraisers working in the association arena. We wanted to take our time, collect many diverse perspectives, and get this right. Looking back at the report almost five years, I think we did a good job and I am looking forward to continuing the conversation at the upcoming Annual Meeting. To both see how we did, where did we miss the mark – but also to look forward again and prepare our members to operate at an even higher level.

Natalie: Why should we revisit the report now?

Barkley:  First and foremost, to serve our members. To provide them with an updated tool to help them be proactive in their positions. Secondly, to make sure AFG is acting as a forward-thinking organization – the only one serving our unique niche field.

Natalie: Why is it important to include a town hall of AFG members, even after the survey?

Barkley: Who better than our members to find the pulse of what is happening in our unique space? They are uniquely qualified to speak to these issues. And AFG has always been member driven, and committed to member engagement in all of our processes. Ever since we were launched in the basement of a DC building as a brown bag lunch support group!

Natalie: Obviously, much will come from the town hall discussion on how to update the report, but what do you think are the top 1-2 issues facing fundraising in the association space today?

Barkley: Increasing the recognized value of what association foundations bring to their related organizations continues to be something I think many of us in this profession strive for, and perhaps, struggle with, on a daily basis. We’ve made strides, but there is so much more room to grow.

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