AFP Golden Gate: 50th Anniversary Testimonial -
50 Years Young and Going Strong, the Golden Gate Chapter of AFP Celebrates Half a Century

By David Disend

2021 is the 50th Anniversary of the AFP Golden Gate Chapter. This article is part of a series of testimonials from current and former members, Board members, and other development professionals in the Greater Bay Area Community on the impact that the Chapter has made on advancing philanthropy.

My, so much has changed in philanthropic work in those 50 years! Each turn a renaissance. Here’s my, undoubtedly quirky, short list of some of what has happened. What was a predominantly male business is no more. The amount of money raised annually has more than doubled (in inflation adjusted dollars), the numbers of practitioners vastly more—there are way more of us encouraging others to be generous. Funding from California donors—individuals, corporations, foundations, and DAFs—has become the most influential and maybe even the largest statewide voice in charitable (and political) fundraising. And what a lovely trip it’s been to see philanthropy blossom in other parts of the world, too.

Because it is Independent of government control and without a profit motivation, the non-profit sector fills important spaces that neither government nor business naturally enter. The sector offers creative solutions to challenges, and it thrives in this environment: the American non-profit sector employs 10% of the American workforce, and it generates almost 6% of the GDP. At some $1.2T in size, the American non-profit sector is bigger than the economies of all but 15 countries1. The Golden Gate chapter has had its sleeves rolled up and ready in this world.

Through practice and error, and increasingly through real research conducted, many of the fundraising myths that inspired us 50 years ago proved to be false gods (not enough space here to catalog them all). The Golden Gate Chapter anchored us through these waves and helped guide us through changes in tax-laws, solicitation practices, and helping us help make our world a better place. And as the non-profit sector still churns more fundraising staff than it should, AFPGGC helped us network and land anew.

Learning is at the Golden Gate’s chapter’s core. Learn, grow, network, revitalize, recharge, refresh, connect.

But through it all, the Golden Gate Chapter has provided community, and support, and encouragement toward best practice. What 50 years ago was too often little more than a back-slapping work world has been professionalized. The Golden Gate Chapter was at the forefront of making fundraising a profession, and of creating, understanding, and promoting the value of having a community of fundraisers. In more recent years, the Golden Gate Chapter has led the effort and thinking in encouraging diversity in the field’s practitioners and donors. 

The Golden Gate Chapter has been a beacon in celebrating the achievements of organizations and practitioners that have made us proud to be in the Bay Area. Philanthropy is voluntary. Despite what some argue, my take is people do not have an obligation to give or to volunteer. The special people who step up to help may not need recognition and appreciation, but their shining examples encourage others. By spotlighting our best, the Golden Gate Chapter has called out to make philanthropy stronger.

We all stand taller because of our association.

1 The meat of this paragraph is borrowed from something I drafted in developing the DEI policy for the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners.  The policy was embraced and approved in October 2020.

David Disend is the Senior Director of Development of Planned Giving at CARE. He has planned and led fundraising campaigns that have achieved over $1.5 billion dollars in fundraising success. He and his teams have amassed 27 CASE and IABC awards, including twice winning, as CAO, the CASE award for most improved fundraising effort. David chairs the inaugural legacy campaign of the National Association of Charitable Gift Planners. David finished his term on the NACGP board in 2020, and he previously served on the AFP International board. David served on the AFP Golden Gate Chapter Board from 2008-2013, including as Chapter President from 2010-2011. David serves on the planned giving council of his alma mater New College of Florida. Concerned that philanthropy will not achieve its full opportunity if its workforce of development professionals does not look more like the communities they serve, David championed the adoption of NACGP’s DEI Policy, and he led the effort to establish AFP’s Diverse Communities Scholarship program. David endowed diversity scholarships both at AFP and CGP.